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Sydney to get new harbour pool

December 20th, 2023

A Cockatoo Island dry dock is being turned into a swimming pool.

The Sydney Harbour Trust is planning to transform the harbour’s largest island, known as Wareamah or Cockatoo Island, into an arts and tourist destination.

The island has a long indigenous, colonial and industrial history, including as a jail and as a shipbuilding and repair yard. It has long been part of Sydney’s working harbour.

As part of this transformation it plans to turn the Fitzroy Dry Dock on the island into a permanent harbour swimming pool. The Fitzroy Dry Dock is Australia’s only surviving dry dock built by convicts, built to service ships in the Royal Navy. When it was completed in 1857, it was the largest dry dock in the southern hemisphere and one of the largest in the world.

“Our aim is that by improving public access, and the range of experiences you can have, we can attract more people to this UNESCO World Heritage site,” says the Harbour Trust’s executive director, Janet Carding.

According to the Harbour Trust, which manages the island, current visitor numbers are relatively low compared to other tourism and heritage sites across Australia. Accommodation proposed in the draft plan would cater to a wider range of budgets, including those of families with children, and the campground would move to the western side of the island and the existing site would be turned into a park.

Artificial reefs would be created to boost the harbour's biodiversity and rehabilitate the waters around the island.

Caption: An artist’s impression of how the converted dry dock will look

By Chris Maher
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