• August 23, 2019

The force of community is strong in the Inner West and here in Balmain we’ve just witnessed people power at its best, with residents banding together to save the iconic Dawn Fraser Baths.

Built in 1882, making it Australia’s oldest public baths, the heritage-listed landmark features a tidal saltwater pool, a sandy beach at low tide and a view of Sydney Harbour that’s nothing short of spectacular. However, despite its long and colourful history, the site’s future has been in doubt.

Now, thanks to some passionate lobbying by locals, funding has been secured for a multi-million-dollar makeover of the baths. A masterplan released last year noted that the pool was likely to become unsafe for public use without immediate restoration works estimated at almost $7 million. Inner West Council said it could only provide $4.5 million towards the works, however now the State Government has announced it will fund the additional $2.2 million.

The upgrades will focus on the ageing infrastructure surrounding the pool, including creating easier access, more changerooms, better lighting and raising the boardwalk to sea level. The work is expected to take 12 months to complete, pending planning approvals.

Council is currently investigating options to keep at least part of the baths open over the 2019-20 summer period while the works are being undertaken. Figures show that during the 2016-17 season the baths only attracted around 2.5% of all visitors to aquatic facilities in the Inner West. Hopefully this upgrade will restore some of the Dawnie’s former glory and it will once again become a much-loved meeting place for locals. One thing’s for sure, community spirit has once again prevailed.

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