Prince Alfred Park Pool, Surry Hills.
I’m not sure if I’ve been living under a very large beach towel but the opening of Sydney’s latest inner city outdoor pool completely passed me by. This week my accreditation as a self-proclaimed ‘swimming pool guru’ has been called into question for not yet visiting the newly opened Prince Alfred Park Pool.
So on a surreal Saturday afternoon where the Sydney skyline bared more resemblance to Manila thanks to heavy smoke haze, I turned left at Central station and explored a new sort of swim experience I thought did not exist in this city.
Leichardt Nonnas, Bondi beards, Darlinghurst gays, Camperdown students. Like some sort of social experiment every stereotype was today on display, lounging, sunning, splashing, frolicking and just generally loving this beautiful new space.
Think 1950s Los Angeles this 50 metre heated pool is all palm trees, pale blues and veuve clicquot yellows. My biggest gripe with retro 50s is it’s traditionally all hard surfaces and sharp corners. This place is all modern comfort and curves, but keeps the vibe of nostalgia. A wood-panelled grandstand and grassy knoll provides both sun and shade for the crowds. White sunloungers are strategically placed under trees, rectangular yellow umbrellas helps the sun smart and a fabulous café seems to be doing a roaring trade on fish burgers, bircher muesli and mango frappes.
Designed by Sydney architect Rachel Neeson who has just been commissioned to complete the new visitor centre at the Sydney Opera House, I can’t wait to see what she does to Australia’s most beloved piece of architecture. City of Sydney you have done yourself proud.
High points: It offers such a new vibe to the inner city, who knew you could swim just five minutes from Central Station. Fountain play area for kids, large clean change facilities, decent café menu. In every way refreshing.
Low points: It was pretty busy, mostly based on the hot weather and free entry fee so there was a fair bit of traffic in the slow and medium lanes. My efforts to swim 30 laps never got beyond 10.
Attire: Purple hair, paperbacks, bike helmets and beach bags
Entry fee: free until November 12 then it will cost $5.70 for adults.
Best for: Almost anyone – inner city office workers, mums, Surry Hills natives, homeless
Overall rating: 8.8