Yamba Swims Into History
Yamba is surrounded by water so subsequently swimming is a way of life here, as it has been for other communities for thousands of years. Going back into history public swimming pools were constructed for many reasons. Not only were they considered aesthetic but they were also used for bathing, religious ceremonies, health and socialising.
In more recent times in Australia public pools have been established and managed by local councils. Many have evolved from nothing more than public baths to well designed and scientifically operated facilities of today. Yamba’s swimming pool history confirms this and reflects the changing social undercurrents of the use of public spaces.
An abandoned quarry does seem to be an unconventional location for a swimming pool. But back in 1953 when the Yamba Rock Pool, also known as the Quarry Pool was established at the foot of Pilot Hill opposite Turners Beach, it was a very popular despite the fact that the beach was close by. Learn to swim classes, surf club training and recreational swimming were enjoyed by all. It was also the centre of the Ampol “Tim the Bream” Fishing Competition in 1958.
However during the 1970s a hole through the rock to the sea filled up with sand and the pool became so polluted it was declared a health hazard. After providing fishermen for many years with weed that flourished under the conditions, for blackfish fishing, it was eventually filled in and turned into the present carpark.
The pool closure presented a problem for the Surf Club. When approaching the Maclean Shire Council for another pool to continue their training they requested that it be built in close proximity the clubhouse. The site chosen was at the southern end of Main Beach. Several natural rock pools were removed during the construction process and the rocks were dumped at the northern end of the beach where they remain today.
Australia Olympian swimmer Shane Gould, who had won four gold medals in the 1972 Munich Games was holidaying in Yamba with her parents and agreed to swim an exhibition 33m lap during the official opening in the summer of 1973.
By the late 1970s a large contingent of children from Yamba were travelling to Maclean to use their 50-metre pool. In the meantime Maclean were looking to build a new Olympic size pool, which meant closing the existing pool for a season. This prompted Yamba parents to seek donations for an indoor pool to be built at the bottom of Coldstream Street. A sign was erected around 1983 on the proposed site showing the amount of donations raised with the goal of $150,000 at the top. Ten years later when they had almost reached their goal, the Council suggested a better site for the pool was near the sports complex on Angourie Road.
After a tremendous amount of community fundraising and volunteers hours, construction on a 25m heated pool began in 1998. Harry Woods MP officially opened it the following year.
Since then the pool has proved to be a wonderful asset to the community supporting a strong swimming club, learn to swim programs as well as various events and recreational activities for local people and their families.