‘Tremendous place for families’:Push to rebuild Manly Cove harbour pool and boardwalk

The multimillion-dollar redevelopment of Manly Wharf has revived a push to rebuild a harbour pool and boardwalk in Manly Cove.

Northern Beaches Council deputy mayor Candy Bingham said the likely demolition of the Manly Sea Life Sanctuary provided an opportunity to rebuild the shark-proof harbour pool that once attracted thousands of visitors until it was washed away in a storm in 1974.

Swimmers at the harbour pool in Manly Cove in November 1936.

Swimmers at the harbour pool in Manly Cove in November 1936.Fairfax

“If we had a beautiful harbour pool reinstated,it would be a tremendous place for families,” she said.

Cr Bingham also said it would provide kids with a place for “safe adventure” where they could jump off the boardwalk rather than in front of ferries.

Transport for NSW has indicated it will bulldoze the old aquarium,whichclosed in 2018,and turn the site into open space as part of its $205 million fund for maritime infrastructure and safety upgrades. Manly Wharf 3 will also be improved as part of the NSW government’s redevelopment of Manly Cove.

James Griffin,Liberal member for Manly,last month said the community wanted the old aquarium torn down and public access to the waterfront improved.

Crowds at Manly Cove harbour pool in the 1930s.

Crowds at Manly Cove harbour pool in the 1930s.Herbert Fishwick

“This project is planning to reunite the beautiful heritage buildings on the West Esplanade with the waterfront,while expanding the boardwalk with space for recreation and outdoor dining options,” he said.

Cr Bingham said she was “pleasantly surprised” by the NSW government’s support for turning the old aquarium site into open space.

“I must admit I was surprised,” she said. “I thought they’d be looking for a new building on site that would generate revenue.”

Historical photos show families swimming and jumping into the water from pontoons and diving platforms including the ‘Tower of Death’,which Cr Bingham remembered fondly but said would not be rebuilt.

Northern Beaches deputy mayor Candy Bingham said a harbour pool and boardwalk should be rebuilt at Manly Cove.

Northern Beaches deputy mayor Candy Bingham said a harbour pool and boardwalk should be rebuilt at Manly Cove.James Brickwood

“We’ll certainly have places for kids to jump off,” she said.

Cr Bingham said a new harbour pool could include an opening for kayakers at one end and a separate entry point for fairy penguins to access the beach.

But the majority of the pool could be netted,providing a safe place to swim,she said.

Cr Bingham also said a new boardwalk would link Manly Wharf to the old pavilion building and provide easier access to the West Esplanade historical precinct,which had been hidden for decades by the aquarium.

“It would completely activate that part of Manly,” she said. “At the moment,it’s a dead area.”

Cr Bingham said the area desperately needed a proper public wharf for recreational boating,with moorings in front of the pool that could protect sea grasses.

Northern Beaches Council has previously investigated options for the aquarium site,but the dilapidated condition of the building meant it was not feasible to adapt to other uses.

Mayor Michael Regan said:“We are generally supportive of plans to upgrade wharf 3,remove the old aquarium building,extend the boardwalk and increase open space on our beautiful foreshore.”

Ray Mathieson,co-chairman of the Manly Community Forum,said the residents’ group favoured the redevelopment of the site as open space for daytime use and with alcohol restrictions.

“The clear view is that residents don’t want an entertainment centre;they don’t want a live music venue,” he said “They believe that Manly is well catered for licensed premises.”

Mr Mathieson said it was unclear how new recreational boating facilities on the wharf would operate.

“There is no public access point in the whole of North Harbour/Manly Cove and it is essential that the access be at the central interconnection point,Manly Wharf,” he said.

The Morning Edition newsletter is our guide to the day’s most important and interesting stories,analysis and insights.Sign up here.

Andrew Taylor is a Senior Reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald.

Most Viewed in National