The open-air Phillip Pool is back open in time for the summer season.
The Phillip Swimming and Ice Skating Centre, in Irving Street, is typically only open for the warmest 12 weeks of the year, but remained closed over the 2021/2022 and 2022/2023 seasons for maintenance work.
Major Canberra developer Geocon took over the site from Dr Wayne Houghton in January this year, prompting more questions about its future.
But both the ACT Government and Geocon soon put the rumours to rest and confirmed the pool would reopen according to the lease conditions, even if the exact date was unknown due to the age of the pool and the amount of work needed to have it up and running again.
Now, in time for the 2023/2024, the doors are open.
“We did have our issues last year, where the rain didn’t stop until mid-November,” manager John Raut says.
“This meant that by the time we got into doing the work, we were closing down for Christmas and there’s no tradespeople around that time.”
Geocon initially flagged Monday, 6 November, as the reopening date, but an issue with the heat exchangers delayed it to Wednesday.
“They got it up and going again, and there’s some beautiful water in there now,” John says.
John says this time of year is always quiet for Canberra’s outdoor pools, and the crowds won’t really start flocking there until after the school term finishes and the weather warms sufficiently to coax people out of the indoor centres.
“The crowd of people we get are mainly those who want to do laps and use it for fitness,” he says.
”Into December, we have a lot of families because it’s more of a quiet facility where parents come and do laps and the kids have a splash, and we look after them.”
The facility, built in 1970, includes a heated 50-metre eight-lane swimming pool, 20 m learners’ pool, toddlers’ pool, barbecues, and a kiosk with hot and cold food. Group or private swimming lessons are by appointment.
A considerable amount of maintenance work is still to be done post-season, mainly to address lingering plumbing and leakage issues.
“Anything that has metal and moisture together creates issues,” John says.
But the future of the pool is safe, even if it takes a different form in years to come.
“There are ways and means of keeping a 50-metre pool here, and probably reconfiguring the block with other facilities.”
The Phillip pool is open for general swimming between 8 am and 6 pm, Monday to Friday, and 9 am to 6 pm, Saturday and Sunday. Cost is $8.50 adults; seniors and children under 15 years $7; and children under five $5.