Bathing At Balmoral

Balmoral Beach Sydney 1 Front copy

Despite the rain, we have had a lot of warm weather recently in Sydney and in the heat Sydneysiders head for the many beaches around the city. Bathing has long been a popular pastime in Sydney and Balmoral, which is pictured in the postcard above, has long been a popular destination for Sydney bathers.

Balmoral in the inner harbour has been part of Sydney’s European history since just a few days after the First Fleet arrived in Sydney, and in 1860 a pleasure ground (Balmoral Gardens) was even constructed in the area, but it was not until 1878 that the beach itself was created as a public reserve. Balmoral, with its surf-less beaches (Edwards and Balmoral Beaches are separated by Rocky Point), rolling sand dunes and natural beauty attracted crowds of Sydney residents for picnics and of course bathing but for many years the beaches were difficult to access limiting the success of the area. In the 1880s and into the 1900s access was by ferry to Mosman Bay and thence by foot but in 1905 daily excursion steamers left from Circular Quay for the Spit, stopping at Balmoral along the way.

It was the passing of daylight bathing legislation in 1903 which really encouraged the popularity of the area though and soon a number of bathing facilities and clubs were being established. In 1899 Balmoral Baths had been constructed and they were leased to Robert Shearer (hence they became known as Shearer’s Baths) and 1914 Balmoral Beach Club was founded by a group of Mosman residents who called themselves the Smugglers. They used two old tram carriages as changing rooms and purchased land for a timber club house. They had grand plans to provide first aid, protection and even purchase a patrol boat, though many of these were never realised and essentially the club was a recreational swimming and social organisation.

To find out more about the history of Balmoral, come back next week.

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