In the swim 2.1.2011


I love war memorials and I love trees so I enjoyed both today taking les enfants to Lambton swimming pool.

It was built in 1963 and financed by Newcastle City Council with assistance from the Newcastle War Memorial Olympic Pool Committee and the Joint Coal Board. Apparently. 

As kids we used to love the diving tower, which was always open. I never managed the leap from the highest level and recall the fear of jumping from the second highest level, but braver souls than me used it constantly.  These days it seems to be rarely used – no doubt a victim of fear of liability in the case of injury.  

Apologies if there has been a tragedy I don’t recall.

It’s a lovely place – there’s a 50 metre pool,  a diving pool, an intermediate pool where the water varies from ankle-deep to a metre deep, and a baby pool. The water is solar-heated to something like 25 degrees. That’s the main attraction for me – I looked up the water temperature in the ocean today and it was 20 degrees. Need I say more.

There’s grass to sit on, a shaded grandstand and beautiful shady trees. There’s a children’s playground and a shop that sells traditionally unhealthy food – along, no doubt with some healthy choices… There are barbecues for organised people.  

The whole place is incredibly clean and it’s non-smoking. There are no scary people or scary behaviours to frighten one away, and I think the place is fantastically well run. It’s a great asset. The entrance to the pool is a grassed area edged with beautiful mature native trees, and the smell of their foliage is fantastic. Late in the afternoon white cockatoos land in the trees.  Tres picturesque.

Today the maximum temperature was 39 degrees so it was mighty unpleasant weather – and a great relief to have both the enfants agree to leave the air conditioning and the computer screens  go swimming with me. What a shame to find the rule seems to have become that the pool’s greatest responsibility is to lap swimmers. I wonder if they get better value for their $3.90 entry fee that we non-lap-swimmers.

That's a row of figs on the left of Lambton Pool

When we arrived – today as every other day – two-thirds of the 50 metre pool was occupied by lanes, and are only to be used by Lap Swimmers – woe betide any child who swims into that part of the pool.

This meant today that 4 people were swimming laps in great peace and what looked like 100 people were bobbing up and down and barely able to move in the remainder of the pool.

 My guess is the same people swim laps every day (unbelievably commendable of them) and make friends with the staff – who are very friendly and vigilant and polite – and these lap swimmers have over the years done their fair share of complaining when they arrive and find the lanes are occupied with Less Serious Swimmers. It’s not what you know in this world…

 In 2007 Newcastle City Council threatened to close the smaller pool in Mayfield, in spite of local workers having built it, saying council wanted to expand Lambton instead of maintaining the smaller pool. There was loads of community opposition and the pool remains open – it even scored solar heating. A sweet victory for communities, walkability, healthy lifestyles, and activism.

Our other holiday trip was to Dixon Street in Chinatown in Sydney. The Hill’s figs that line that street are a sight to behold. Look up next time you go there.

As you drive around Sydney they’re everywhere. I have to say this surprises me every time I visit  because I didn’t think Sydney City Council liked Hill’s figs any more than our natural asset people. Maybe they routinely Take Them Out every couple of decades so they feel they’re In Control of Natural Assets rather than natural assets being in control of them.

Thanks to Saving Our Trees for telling me that this is the International Year of  Forests. And googling the International Year of Forests led me to tours given by the Department of Conservation, Climate Change and Water’s guided tours: they list heaps. The list for the local area is here. Who knew? Home


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