Kid-friendly swimming pools
Outdoor pools have been under threat as larger, indoor aquatic centres (that include gyms) have come on the scene, so a gem like the Botany Aquatic Centre is to be truly cherished. There are three pools spread across lush green lawns peppered with trees, for plenty of shade. You can choose from a shaded, shallow baby pool, a waist-deep pool for bigger children and an olympic pool for the more adventurous. Adult $6.50; child $4.50
This harbour pool is one of the prettiest in Sydney. You can make your way to the pool through Blackburn Gardens – a beautifully restored heritage garden with fountains and shaded areas for picnics. The pool itself is encircled with a boardwalk around the edges that kids can explore. Overlooking the pool are change rooms and a café (with all important ice blocks!) and there's shade from trees just back from the beach. There’s also a pontoon for the bigger kids to jump off. Be warned: there are no lifeguards at this pool. Free.
If you enjoy your swimming centres with a touch of tree-style tranquility Ku-ring-gai Fitness and Aquatic Centre comes with that kind of vibe. They’ve got options for both indoor and outdoor swimming with two indoor pools, one 50m outdoor pool and a water play area for the little ones – all set in the tranquil tree surrounds of Ku-ring-gai. Adult $7; child $5.
Bronte Beach itself is well known for its rough surf, but the Bogey Hole and pool are great for kids. The Bogey Hole sits at the southern end of the beach, right next to the pool, and it offers protection from the surf and an abundance of rock pools for little ones to go exploring. It can also be a great place to first try snorkelling. If you bob around the rocks in the nearby pool you might even spot a few crabs hiding in its nooks and crannies. It’s also free and open when little children are most active.
Did somebody say water playground? This incredible indoor facility has slippery dips, dumping water buckets, fountains, water volcanoes and a rapid river ride. While the website says suitable for toddlers, older kids often enjoy this water wonderland too. Adult $8; child $6.20.
This lovely little ocean pool is great for families with small children. You enter the pool by a sandy bank, and it’s right next to grass lawns and a fenced playground so you can spend time waddling to and fro with toddlers without too much hassle. It’s not far from Cronulla Beach, and you can access the rock pool easily with a pram or wheelchair.
Bondi Beach is one of Australia’s most famous beaches, and for good reason. Unfortunately this beautiful spot is also very popular with tourists and locals alike. If you can face the battle of parking and public transport, the dip will be worth your while. Icebergs is a stunning public pool at the southern end of the beach, but the children’s pool at the north end is a really popular option for families with smaller children. When the tide is in there’s an additional rock pool at the end of the paddle pool which has the added bonus of tiny sea creatures. Free.