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Published 15 August 2023, updated 01 May 2024

City of Bunbury is continuing community and stakeholder engagement regarding an ocean pool at Wyalup Rocky Point. It follows Bunbury City Council in June endorsing a business case and concept plan for the widely discussed project. An ocean pool is not a new concept for Bunbury with many new ideas floating around in recent years, and a notable history of leisure and recreation at the proposed location.

Project timeline

Council endorsed Bunbury Ocean Pool Fatal Flaw Proof of Concept Study
Council endorsed Bunbury Ocean Pool Business Case and Concept Plan
Community Engagement - Survey
Community Information Sessions

Ocean Pool History

A little bit south of the popular coastal spot, the concrete remnants of the Back Beach baths can still be seen today, with these ruins now an iconic landmark in our city.

This once popular, summer-time – and consequently ill-fated – attraction was built in the late 1930s before it was emptied and eventually destroyed by the persistent weather and waves. But the idea of an ocean pool for Bunbury was on the horizon years before the Back Beach baths.

In the 1890s, the Bunbury Council of the day took control of Wyalup Rocky Point – the location now being considered yet again – to protect the area and prevent the often dangerous and illegal mining of basalt. At this time, the Council was also considering ways to improve the appeal of Bunbury and to attract tourists to the area, proposing the idea of an ocean pool.

During a visit of the WA State Engineers in the 1890s, the optimal location for an ocean pool was determined to be at the end of Symmons Street. In 1907, the Council started the process of initiating the Bunbury basalt quarry, with the eventual goal of creating a world-class ocean pool.

The basalt quarry continued to operate for more than 20 years as it slowly approached the desired pool dimensions of 82 metres long, 18 metres wide and 3 metres deep. With the onset of the depression during the 1930s and the subsequent building of the Back Beach baths, the quarry ocean pool concept was abandoned.

In the late 1940s, the basalt quarry was closed before becoming an unofficial local attraction as a swimming hole and camping ground for visitors in the 1950s. However, the area slowly began to fill with sand and by the early 1960s the quarry was filled, and swimming was no longer possible.

Image credit: Bunbury Historical Society

Idea revived

The opportunity for a new ocean pool was revived in the early 2010s, when a masterplan was prepared for the foreshore precinct which noted the opportunity with the preferred location being Wyalup Rocky Point.

This beautiful area of Bunbury is a rocky section of coastline, primarily composed of basalt that formed from lava flows which occurred approximately 130 million years ago. The site is also a place of Indigenous significance with Wyalup meaning a ‘place of mourning’. Consultation with our First Nations community regarding the heritage and cultural significance of the location is an important part of the current engagement process.

More recently, in 2019 then Councillor Todd Brown with support from local businesses BCE Surveying and Calibre Consulting developed impressive concept designs in a community-run campaign to further investigate an ocean pool at Wyalup Rocky Point.

Bunbury Ocean Pool Concept Design

Studies undertaken

In 2021, a Bunbury Ocean Pool Feasibility Fatal Flaw Proof of Concept Study found no fatal flaws in the concept and recommended further investigations to consider the viability of the project.

These studies have included a geotechnical investigation, an Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Report, a Refined Concept Design and a business case. Environment technical studies also included a marine environmental quality: pool flushing and effects on coastal water quality, marine environmental quality: benthic habitats, flora and vegetation, preliminary site investigation, hydrogeology, environmental noise and landscape and visual Impact.

As a result, a refined concept plan now proposes a community, free-to-use, saltwater ocean pool nestled among the existing basalt rocks and channel, featuring a 50m lap pool, 25m rehabilitation pool, entry ramp with wheelchair access, children’s pool and wading zone.

The plan also includes amenities and landscaping of the precinct.

Where to now

While the Council endorsed the impressive concept plans, it is crucial that the City gauges from its community if it wants an ocean pool and its thoughts on the proposed project.

A community survey was undertaken from 14 August to15 September 2023 and two community information sessions were held on 28 August. The results of the survey are being collated and will be reported back to community soon.

The Council also endorsed the City identifying and seeking funding opportunities including from State and Federal governments, and private investment with the project estimated at $17.82 million plus additional ongoing yearly operational and maintenance costs.

Community Consultation

A community survey was undertaken from 14 August to 15 September with the results now being collated.  The City also hosted two community information sessions, which included a presentation from concept design authors Officer Woods. Held on 28 August 2023, the sessions were well attended by community members and other stakeholders, and there was robust discussion around the project.

The City will also undertake further consultation with the Indigenous community, along with discussions with regulatory authorities, and identifying those funding opportunities, with a report set to go back to Council.

The feasibility studies into an ocean pool for Bunbury were supported by the Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries, which provided $250,000 in funding.

Wyalup Rocky Point is currently a popular, family-friendly spot with passive open space, shelters, toilets, barbecue facilities and playground equipment.