Friday, 21 February 2014

Swimming across the Riverina

A summer road trip across southern New South Wales and northern Victoria, from Sydney through various towns was a great opportunity to check out a variety of local public pools. These are only places we swam: so many towns, too many pools! No time to stop and savour the pools of Boorowa, Ardlethan, Barellan, Ariah Park, Darlington Point, Balranald, Wentworth, Robinvale, Urana or Junee. The weather was decidedly pool unfriendly at Swan Hill. 

Summer is hot in the Riverina and Murray Valley, and there's nothing like the local pool to spend the long summer holidays.

Pool One: Young Municipal Baths (A)

Our first overnight stop. Young, like many country pools retains its diving board. They seem to have gone the way of work health and safety /litigation consciousness in the Big Smoke. But as my friend John points out - it can be a bit of a challenge to swim laps while the kids or backpackers are hurling themselves off the board on top of you! No lane ropes in Young when I was there - just full-tilt leisure. 

Pool Two: Barmedman Mineral Pool (B)

A detour to check out this mineral pool, which apparently originated in the 1880s after the flooding of the Barmedman goldmines from an underground river.

Barmedman Mineral Pool's 40th anniversary celebrations must have been a bit of a grand event, with Dawn Fraser officially opening ... something....a revamped pool, or fiesta, the plaque does not make it clear.

Pool Three: Temora Swimming Pool (C)

A short drive from Barmedman, and Temora's pool is a very handsome facility. There's a diving board again, a cute kids' pool, and a 25 metre indoor pool providing year-round swimming. I thrashed up and down there but then had a dip in the 50 m outdoor pool, and especially enjoyed the beautifully kept lawns. 

I was a little surprised that on a very hot Sunday afternoon there weren't more people using the pool. Perhaps they were away (this was the week between Christmas and New Year, or maybe the rise of the private, backyard pool is having an impact on country pools as well?

I liked Temora pool very much. There must have been a job-lot on mushroom water features for the wading pool - both Young and Temora boast them! 

Pool Four: Hay - John Houston Memorial Swimming Pool (D)

Hay's pool is pretty amazing. For a start, it is free, as the sign on the way into town attests. It was opened in 1967 after a decade of local fund raising and named after John Houston who was President of the Hay Swimming Pool Committee for the 11 years of its existence. 

I arrived at opening time (midday), and pretty much had the pool to myself. It is pristine clean, and exceptionally well kept, a tribute to Hay! 

Pool Five: Waves Mildura Aquatic and Leisure Centre (E)

A modern indoor complex has been added to this traditional outdoor 50 metre and diving pool centre.

At first  I thought the diving pool must only be available for official diving purposes, or had gone the way of the city diving pool. I was chuffed to see the 3 metre board opened up, under the supervision of a pool attendant, and lots of kids (and older) came flocking for a jump. I didn't see anyone actually dive.

 The indoor complex features a leisure pool which turns into a wave pool which revs up periodically, and a 25 m lap pool. Great - most people amused themselves in there. leaving the "proper pool: to we lappies.

Pool Six: Deniliquin Swim Centre (G)

Another great facility with relatively few people there. It was afternoon when I swam there, and there was a swim squad and some learn to swim lessons. There's a nice setting, a good toddlers pool and plenty of lap swimming availability.

 Pool Seven : Lockhart Swimming Pool (F)

A 33 metre pool! There are or used to be a heap of them across the Riverina - probably 33 yard, actually. My friend John used to co-ordinate regional school swimming carnivals and said they were running races with world record time swimmers: because the teachers would sometimes forget to convert the 33 yard times  from their school carnival into 50 metre equivalents before submitting the times for seeding in the regional carnivals.

We met up with a friend and her mum and children there, and had the pool to ourselves for most of the time we were there.

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