Wylie's Baths is a tidal pool at the south end of Coogee Beach. It was established in 1907 by Henry Alexander Wylie, a champion long distance and under water swimmer. Wylie's Sea Bath, as it was originally known, was opened on 12 December 1907. The pool is situated beneath a steep crescent shaped cliff which faces north east. This area is a natural sun trap and is also sheltered from the south and west winds, making it very attractive for year round bathing. The pool has a natural rock base with concrete sloping walls around four sides. Originally a metal fence with double hand rail ran along the eastern edge of the pool. At some stage this was replaced with a timber and metal rail which enclosed the pool on three sides. The pool is approximately 50m long and 30m wide.
In 1907 the change pavilions were constructed on an elevated timber deck. The deck was boomerang shaped running along the line of the cliff face and served as a promenade and viewing platform.
Wylie's Baths was very popular and was the first in Australia to offer mixed bathing, known as dual then later continental bathing. The Baths also provided a venue for the relatively new sport of competitive swimming. It was in fact the venue for the inaugural Australian Swimming Championships.
Wylie's daughter, Wilhelmina (Mina) Wylie, (1891 - 1984) was a well known swimmer and was one of the first female swimmers to represent Australia at an Olympic Games. She won a silver medal in the 100 metres freestyle at the Stockholm Olympics in 1912.
On 5 November 1959 the lease was transferred to Mr Desmond Selby who renamed the baths "Sunset Pool" and proceeded to upgrade the facilities.
The buildings and pool were badly damaged in May 1974 by high seas and the pool was closed to the public. Another storm occurred in 1977 causing further damage. In 1978 the Baths were reopened under the control of Randwick Municipal Council and renamed Wylie's Baths.
In 1992 the deck was declared unsound and Randwick City Council closed it to the public. However in 1994 the pool was renovated and restored. In 1995 architects Allen, Jack & Cottier were awarded the Greenway Award for Conservation by the Royal Australian Institute of Architects for their innovative restoration of Wylie's Baths
In May 2001 a life sized bronze monument of Mina Wylie was unveiled as part of the Centenary of Federation project. The monument was designed by local sculptor Eileen Slarke and based on a photograph of Mina at the 1912 Olympic Games.
List of References
- Wylie's Baths
- Joan Lawrence, Pictorial History: Randwick, 2001
- Eileen Slarke, A Century of Wylie's Baths, Coogee: a cultural history, 2001