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A Tale of Two Pools…. Phillip v. Dickson

By grunge_hippy 16 January 2011 26

As it was the first sunny day in a while, and the kiddlies have been driving me a bit batty, two invitations to go swimming couldn’t be ignored.  I enjoy an outdoor pool (despite the having to slap on the sunscreen on squirming children) than the noisy echo filled and swampy watered indoor pools.  Outdoor pools have that shimmer and sparkle that makes it inviting, rather than the stiffling chlorine drenched atmosphere of the indoor variety.  So an invite to Phillip for the morning and Dickson in the arvo was just the ticket.

Firstly, to Phillip Pool in the morning.  I used to live at Phillip Pool as a child.  It was my choice of pool, living in tuggers in the 80’s, before the big indoor pool opened up and if I wanted to avoid the tit and ball soup that was Erindale I would catch the bus to Phillip.  Nothing has changed (accept the price) and its like stepping back in time.  In fact, I think the man at the front was the same lifeguard we used to oggle in our teens in his speedos and lack of shirt.  Now, with myself, a 5 year old and a 1 year old… $15.  Now, I can get that prices rise.  I get that.  I get that pools are expensive to run….But to charge $4.50 for an infant who barely paddles and $6.00 for an adult who isn’t swimming is a bit steep.  The pool has not had an upgrade/facelift EVER, it still has the same pinnies in the canteen that were there 25 years ago.  Nearly every other pool in Canberra has had a facelift except Phillip.  It was also very quiet.  A few lap swimmers, a couple of parents with kiddies having a splash but very quiet considering it was getting warmer by the time we left at 12.

Now, for Dickson.  Firstly, the place is PACKED.  yes, it was later in a hot day, but it was very busy.   An another selling point… no charge for the 1 year old.  So including hubby who came this time as well, $14. Friends who invited us, family of 5, $20 family pass.   Win.

The crowds filled me with a kind of dread, thinking its going to be crazy to even get into the pool but there is so much going on, that not everyone is in the pool.  There’s the new (I gather) water play park which was cool for the kids, there was the baby pool, the middle sized pool and the big pool.  While it has the same number of pools as Phillip, they are all under shade sails in some shape or form.   Another bonus, much more places to sit in the shade, as I stupidly got burnt at Phillip in the morning and needed some respite from the sun.  Bands, sausage sizzles, zumba lessons, jugglers, and a red man in a full body lyrca suit running around kept the kids amused.  I even spotted Johnboy there, thankfully without speedos…  I remained anonymous and incognito.  🙂

Despite Dickson being a tad far away for us, I would definitely go again.  Phillip could learn a few things about getting the crowds in.

So discuss dear rioters, what is your favourite pool in Canberra and why?

[ED – Worth noting that Dickson Pool was running it’s Aquaculture Nights program every Saturday night through summer.]


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26 Responses to
A Tale of Two Pools…. Phillip v. Dickson
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taninaus 7:11 am 06 Jan 12

Another sad tale of Phillip – my sister took her kids there 4/1/12 – the slide they offer was not open consistently and the cafe was atrocious – the hot chips were cold as some heater had broken, the pies and sausage rolls were heated in a microwave and they had run out of tomato sauce (no idea why they couldn’t toddle off to woolies up the road)! The staff were grumpy and made all the excuses in the world about it being busy and New Years. If John and his staff don’t wake up to themselves they will lose so much custom – but then it is only because of the ice rink that the place didn’t close years ago as outdoor pools are not profitable in Canberra without something extra.

SupaSal 1:27 am 06 Jan 12

Kaleen has closed was brought out by the same owner as CISAC – Closed the pool due to the roof Rusting and moved all the swim school to CISAC where they now charge double for lessons!!

Puppy_Party 10:26 pm 05 Jan 12

Saw this article about 12 months too late…. I took my two children to the Phillip Pool yesterday and the ‘old guy’ (must be the same one that everyone is referring to) was quite rude to me on the way out. Even my children were offended!! However, I would like to thank him very much for being so rude because we have found the wonders of Club Blue in Belconnen. It’s newer, cleaner, cheaper, more for the kids do, and the staff go out of their way to be friendly and helpful. Definitely worth the drive…. I will never go to Phillip Pool again!!

auscan 2:57 pm 30 Sep 11

I think most people need to understand Big Splash and Phillip are privately owned. The others are on a lease basis which means the Government provides them with enough money to cover running costs each year. Big Splash and Phillip don’t get a cent. This is most evident where they can offer spectator fees and the 2 privately owned can’t.

I think with all that changes in Canberra we should be grateful the oldies are still hanging around. I see Big Splash is putting in news slides… I think that is much better than the rumour of apartments going in there instead.

As far as adults going on kids slides at Big Splash…. You land on my 4 year old when you are coming off that slide I am not going to be impressed. If your child cannot go on the slides by themselves don’t force them! Kids slides mean just that.

Keijidosha 11:16 am 31 Jan 11

taninaus said :

Key difference – Phillip is privately owned (used to be a bunch of Sydney doctors – may still be) and Dickson is Government owned with a contractor in place.

While the government might help Dickson out with infrastructure Phillip has to pay for it all themselves – and the Government probably put some cap/guidance on entry fees where Phillip is in the free market.

Big Splash at Belconnen is privately owned AFAIK and still manages some semblance of upkeep and infrastructure upgrades. As the saying goes: In business you gotta spend money to make money, and clearly Phillip pool has little interest in doing that.

niftydog 10:38 am 31 Jan 11

77Eliza said :

The title of this says it all- 2 pools. In a growing town of Canberra’s size having a handful of pools to choose from is far from adequate…

Within a 5km radius of Lyneham you have Dickson, CISAC, AIS, Big Splash and Civic pools, all of which have multiple pools. (There’s also Kaleen, but I keep hearing that it’s closed – anyone know the story?)

As for the wetlands – they are designed to limit mosquito habitat – a study of the Banksia St wetland found more mozzies in a neighbouring garden than in the in wetland.

Lin 5:21 pm 19 Jan 11

I used to prefer Manuka pool when my girl was a toddler. A lot more shade and rarely packed.

dtc 4:23 pm 19 Jan 11

gospeedygo said :

77Eliza said :

bitching

What? Is Belconnen too far away for you or something?

Or, you know, Civic.

Of course, Wollongong has the ocean so why people need pools as well I never quite figured out (except for lap nerds). Which is why they (the Wollongong pools) are usually empty.

gospeedygo 3:26 pm 19 Jan 11

77Eliza said :

bitching

What? Is Belconnen too far away for you or something?

77Eliza 2:49 pm 19 Jan 11

The title of this says it all- 2 pools. In a growing town of Canberra’s size having a handful of pools to choose from is far from adequate. In NSW every tiny suburb has its own council run community pool. In a small suburb outside wollongong there’s a 12 lane 50m pool with 2 kids pools which was free when I was a kid, it then went up to 50c when it was heated and last Christmas it was $2. Running a pool cannot be that expensive.
I now live in Lyneham where we are getting a multimillion dollar wetland (aka mosquito breeding ground). I’d much rather another pool, especially for those of us who are kid-free and would actually like to swim laps in a clean pool without jostling for space or getting kicked in the head by kids.

EvanJames 10:46 am 17 Jan 11

Hmmm, crowds vs non crowds. I think Phillip is definitely more attractive.

dtc 9:24 am 17 Jan 11

gospeedygo said :

I haven’t been to Dickson in a while but I hope they still have the great canteen reminiscent of before schools got wrapped up in the health food BS.

Yep, ice creams, pies and lollies is about all you can buy, along with flavoured milk.

Dickson is by far (IMHO) the best family pool, in particular because the kids can find a pool of a suitable depth. Parking can be a pain, although if the pool and shopping centre car parks are all full, you can usually park on the road near where the observatory used to be (but with a 5 min hike to the pool).

Civic also has a kiddies pool, although sometimes it is filled with duck sh#t; but for laps I think Civic is the best bet. Dickson can be really pleasant for laps on the right day, and completely miserable on other days.

gospeedygo 6:44 am 17 Jan 11

I haven’t been to Dickson in a while but I hope they still have the great canteen reminiscent of before schools got wrapped up in the health food BS.

grunge_hippy 9:50 pm 16 Jan 11

John Moulis said :

Phillip Pool is a disgrace. Run down, overpriced and very much playing second fiddle to the ice skating facility. No wonder the pool is always deserted. The boss of Southern Cross Health Club has tried repeatedly to take it over in order to upgrade it and offer concessions to gym members but has been repeatedly knocked back. It’s a pity because I have to travel to Tuggers every morning to do the swimming component of my gym and fitness training.

funny you say that, as we were leaving, the (i assume) owner was showing around some people, and from impressions it looked like they were showing them around akin to a prospective buyer… perhaps he is finally selling it?

grunge_hippy 9:44 pm 16 Jan 11

To answer your question s-s-a….She was arms reach the whole time, with me knee deep in the baby pool and my friend taking her in the other pool for a spell. The 5 year old was also just paddling in the baby pool and in the bigger pool again with my friend. I just didnt like the idea of swimming at 10am!! I did swim at Dicko though.

oh, and to clarify, the family pass was only $17 at dicko, not $20 as I stated. even better.

taninaus 6:57 pm 16 Jan 11

Key difference – Phillip is privately owned (used to be a bunch of Sydney doctors – may still be) and Dickson is Government owned with a contractor in place. The ice rink is what keeps Phillip going, I don”t think they would even turn a profit at the pool and that is probably why they don’t care.

From what I have heard I belive John R is still there – he would be the ‘then’ hunky lifeguard in the 1980’s – we all age in 30 years!

While the government might help Dickson out with infrastructure Phillip has to pay for it all themselves – and the Government probably put some cap/guidance on entry fees where Phillip is in the free market.

As much as I loved frequenting the outdoor pools in my youth, the indoor ones are my choice as you don’t have the sunburn problems. I love the vibe of Dickson and the guys running it are certainly bent on creating a great sense of community – now all we need is someone like that on the southside.

Comic_and_Gamer_Nerd 5:27 pm 16 Jan 11

went to dickson for the first time in my life in the holidays. took the kids and neices and it was brilliant. other side of town but well worth the trip. only problem was the parking.

damien haas 2:45 pm 16 Jan 11

25 yr old pinball machines ? Cool.

d1nny 1:23 pm 16 Jan 11

The Dickson Pool has AquaCulture nights every Saturday through January. Yesterday was a jazz bad, next Saturday 22nd Jan is a Rock Band. Take a picnic dinner and relax in the Shade.

miz 12:33 pm 16 Jan 11

Phillip was a fantastic pool in my teen years, before they built over the (what was then) extensive family area (shade trees/grass) to put in the ice skating rink. We were there practically all summer hols. I was, and remain, extremely disappointed that they were permitted to put that ugly shed up all those years ago.

Sorry to hear that the pool facility itself is not only run down, but also expensive.

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