There’s nothing better than finding a hidden gem while exploring on holidays. It’s even better when that hidden gem has fabulous access and inclusive features. Given Merewether Ocean Baths opened in 1935, I’m sure they are well known to Newcastle locals. But, as a Sydney-sider, I hadn’t heard of them and the pretty location made for a wonderful day trip from our base in Lake Macquarie.
AJ and I have just returned home from a few days away with my friend Sue (Occupational Therapist) and her three children aged 8,7 and 4. The boys stayed home but as always it’s hard to switch off my access radar.
We discovered during our visit, Merewether Ocean Baths are wonderfully accessible.
With ramp access to a shallow pool and another pool with a depth of 1.8 metres, there’s an option to suit everyone.
It’s fantastic to see a pool chair and a water wheels chair available for use in the pool. Just use the railings for entry via the ramps as there are some slippery areas.
We know there’s such a variety in people’s abilities and needs, so I get really excited to see councils providing more than one option of chair.
The pool chair is good for someone who needs access into the water and can then get out and swim. The floating chair is a more supportive aid which allows a person to remain in the chair while in the water. The floating pool chair can be reclined and provides more support with a harness and foot strap attached.
Aside from the great access at the Merewether Ocean Baths, the area has a lovely atmosphere with the option of swimming at the beach, rock pools to explore and the Instagram-worthy old diving blocks.
The Ocean Baths are the largest in the Southern Hemisphere and we certainly appreciated the space they offered for a swim. Take a look at the video below.
The pool chairs are available during lifeguard hours (9-5.30 in summer) every day of the week in the summer season.
Accessible parking spaces are available in Henderson Parade. There are four spaces close to the baths and a few further back in the street.
A unisex stand-alone accessible bathroom has ramp access. It has a shower bench, but the shower head was missing when we visited.
Access to the lifeguard tower to borrow the pool chairs is via a ramp which is on the southern side of the toilet and change facilities.
There are several shelters and benches to escape the sun, though it takes some persistence to stake your claim.
Check the cleaning schedule for the pool to ensure it is open for your visit. In summer the pool is closed for cleaning twice a week.
If you stop off for a swim at Merewether Ocean Baths make sure you pop into the Merewether Aquarium. This isn’t a traditional aquarium but an underpass which has been brightened up with quirky pop art. The detail and humour in the pictures will leave you smiling and kids will love it.
It only takes a few minutes to wander through the tunnel. It’s level and accessible though you will need to turn around at the other end as there are stairs.
THE MERWETHER SURFHOUSE
Had Sue and I been travelling solo we’d have loved nothing more than popping into the bar at The Merewether Surfhouse for a cocktail. But, with four children in tow we just looked on from a distance.
Within the Merewether Surfhouse there’s a range of dining options from a café, Pizza kiosk, bar and restaurant. Access looked good and it’s certainly got prime position for enjoying the ocean views.
You can take a look at the options on their website.
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