North Sydney Olympic Pool | NSW Environment, Energy and Science

Culture and heritage


North Sydney Olympic Pool

Item details

Name of item: North Sydney Olympic Pool
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Recreation and Entertainment
Category: Swimming Pool - inground built
Primary address: 4 Alfred Street South, Milsons Point, NSW 2061
Local govt. area: North Sydney
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
4 Alfred Street SouthMilsons PointNorth Sydney  Primary Address

Statement of significance:

The North Sydney Olympic Pool is an outstanding example of a 1930s Olympic Pool, principally due to its architectural style and detailing, its integration with its magnificent harbourside setting, and the 1930s sophistication of its facilities. Historically significant as the venue for two Empire Games (1938 and 1958) and the setting for the establishment of 86 world records in swimming and diving events. Associated with adjacent Luna Park stylistically and functionally. Popular and significant recreational facility in the region, used by many from outside North Sydney.

Heritage Inventory sheets are often not comprehensive, and should be regarded as a general guide only. Inventory sheets are based on information available, and often do not include information on landscape significance, interiors or the social history of sites and buildings. Inventory sheets are updated by Council as further information becomes available. An inventory sheet with little information may simply indicate that there has been no building work done to the item recently: it does not mean that items are not significant. Further research is always recommended as part of preparation of development proposals for heritage items, and is necessary in preparation of Heritage Impact Assessments and Conversation Management Plans, so that the significance of heritage items can be fully assessed prior to submitting development applications.
Note: The State Heritage Inventory provides information about heritage items listed by local and State government agencies. The State Heritage Inventory is continually being updated by local and State agencies as new information becomes available. Read the OEH copyright and disclaimer.


Designer/Maker: Rudder & Grout
Physical description: o This building is designed in the Inter-War Free Classical style.

Full Olympic public swimming pool with grandstand over amenities on the north side, offices and plant rooms on the west and boundary walls on the south and east sides, with a kiosk in the south-east corner. The boundary walls and buildings are all constructed of brick, with most walls simply detailed. The bricks are textured with horizontal lines, and several colours of bricks are used. The south and east boundary walls are formed from a series of stilted semi-circular arches, with the south wall being the main facade. The central pair of arches are taller, forming a rectangular pediment above with stucco moulded keystones formed as parrots. The flanking three arches on each side have keystones formed as scallop shells. Spandrels are also moulded with fish, plant and water motifs. Other arches are of brick without stucco decoration.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
Modifications and dates: Arches on the south elevation were modified in 1981 by the infilling of the arches with a five-facet bay window, open at the top and standing on a cantilevered concrete sill. The diving tower was removed in 1970 and the depth at the deep end of the pool was reduced in 1980. The bright colours on the stucco decorations were introduced in 1984, among other changes designed by architect Feiko Bouman.


Historical notes: Following completion and opening of the Sydney Harbour Bridge in March, 1932, areas set aside for workshops and fabrication of steelwork on the north-west side of the bridge were vacated by Dorman Long and the lands returned to government ownership. North Sydney Council acquired this site and erected the Olympic Pool, opened 4 April, 1936. The Pool was the venue for the Empire Games in 1938 and in 1958. Continuous operation since then, with winter heating introduced in 1972 and an air-supported plastic dome introduced during winter months since 1981. The pool manager's residence was built in 1950 due to security concerns. In the 1950s and 1960s the pool was the scene for the exploits of swimming greats: Murray Rose, Lorraine Crapp, Dawn Fraser, Jon Henricks, John Devitt, Kevin Berry, John and Ilsa Konrads, Michael Wenden, Shane Gould, and Jenny Turrall, Frank O'Neill, Judy Joy Davies and others. The North Sydney Olympic Pool was the venue for the establishment of 82 world records. The use of the pool for competition swimming events during the 1950s and 1960s was so intense it caused some public controversy by conflicting with the public use of the pool.

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Leisure-Activities associated with recreation and relaxation (none)-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Sport-Activities associated with organised recreational and health promotional activities (none)-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Events-Activities and processes that mark the consequences of natural and cultural occurences (none)-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria f)
This item is assessed as historically rare statewide. This item is assessed as aesthetically rare statewide. This item is assessed as socially rare statewide.
Integrity/Intactness: _
Assessment criteria: Items are assessed against the PDF State Heritage Register (SHR) Criteria to determine the level of significance. Refer to the Listings below for the level of statutory protection.


Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Local Environmental Plan I053702 Aug 13   

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
North Sydney Heritage Study Review19930027Tony Brassil, Robert Irving, Chris Pratten, Conybeare MorrisonTB 19/3/92 Date Amended: 22.4.96 (C. Kemp) Yes

References, internet links & images


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Data source

The information for this entry comes from the following source:
Name: Local Government
Database number: 2180027

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