Since living on the north side of the Harbour for the past two years, I’ve come to appreciate the tranquillity and beauty of the Harbour views from our balcony, which we exchanged for the beach. Another positive aspect of living on the north shore is being close to the North Sydney Swimming Pool. It was built in 1938, five years after the construction of the Bridge, and three years after the opening of Luna Park. Situated between the monolithic grandeur of the Bridge to the east, and Luna Park with its playfulness to the west, it has borrowed some of the features of these two icons in its architecture. The graded arches on the facade mimic those of the Bridge, and it has picked up the “funny” features of Luna Park–with its famous face and Chrysler Building towers–and in its art deco details of frogs, a seagull and a lizard.
In its heyday in the 1950s to the 1970s, many famous Olympic swimmers trained here. There’s a hall of fame with names such as Lorraine Crapp, Dawn Frazer, John and Ilsa Konrads, and Shane Gould enshrined there. It was on or near this site, too, that the Australian Crawl was first developed in the harbourside Lavender Bay pool.
The Pool was designed in an art deco style that can be defined as “stripped classical”.
The original indigenous inhabitants of this land, the Cammeraygal, were described as a very powerful people. They used to paddle across the Harbour to the present-day site of Farm Cove to perform initiation ceremonies. One of these was recorded to have occurred in 1795. The Cammeraygal survived the worst effects of the disease that wiped out a lot of the indigenous population in 1789. However, by 1800 traditional social structures had been profoundly changed by colonisation.