Superlatives flow thick and fast when you first see the $36 million Stromlo Leisure Centre at Stromlo Forest Park, but it’s the exposed timber beams that steal the show.
”I haven’t been able to stop looking at them,” said Sports Minister Yvette Berry as the toured the site ahead of its official opening on Saturday (15 August).
Ms Berry said the facility was more than just a swimming pool but a destination in its own right that is set to win awards for its design from Cox Architecture and build by Kane Constructions.
She said visitors will be genuinely surprised and astounded at what they see.
The beams, Glulam laminated Austrian spruce made in Italy, are not only beautiful and perfectly offset the concrete and steel of the structure but are highly resilient in the humid and chlorinated atmosphere of an indoor pool.
They also require little maintenance, and those used in European skating rinks have lasted 50 years.
But the 50-metre pool is really the centrepiece, and members of the Woden Sharks swim club took their first plunge into the perfectly regulated water and gave it a clear thumbs-up.
They said it was a fantastic pool to swim in and the water was set at Goldilocks levels, not too cold but not too warm.
YMCA NSW will run the centre – which also includes a heated pool, leisure pool, toddlers pool, a splash park, gym, creche and cafe – making Stromlo the fourth facility under its management in the ACT.
The splash park is a work of art in itself, complete with giant tipping bucket, while the gym boasts state of the art equipment and sweeping views of the Molonglo Valley.
Vents under the tiered seating will clear the air of any pool chemical odours.
The creche’s opening has been delayed by COVID-19, but the cafe is sure to be a gathering place for the community
CEO Susannah Le Bron said the centre had almost 900 founding members and it would be employing many young people to be lifeguards and swim and fitness instructors.
She acknowledged the recent troubled history of the site when bushfires swept through the area in 2003.
”This place since 2003 has been through so much adversity up here on this hill and now I am so proud that the Y can be here and be part of what Stromlo has activated for its community,” she said.
Ms Le Bron said the Y was now proud to call the beautiful, landmark building home.
She said the centre had a COVID-19 plan to manage numbers and the gym required bookings so social distancing measures can be maintained.
The centre’s construction began in 2018 and the centre is a key part of the Stromlo Forest Park Master Plan.
It will complement other facilities in Stromlo Forest Park which already includes world-class mountain bike trails, criterium circuit, running track and equestrian trails.
Ms Berry said the site was perfect, and the government always wanted to make Stromlo Forest Park a sport, fitness and recreation hub.
The opening is also perfect for the government as it attempts to win a sixth consecutive term in October.
Ms Berry said the project was announced at the last election and there was four years’ worth of work to get to this point.
The facility will serve more than 100,000 Canberrans in Weston Creek, which has long called for such a facility, Woden and the Molonglo Valley.
Standard adult entry is $7.50, concession $5.30, pensioner $4 and spectator $2.55. For more information, visit Stromlo Leisure Centre.
The centre is open from 5:30 am to 9:30 pm Monday to Friday, 7:00 am to 7:30 pm Saturday and Sunday, and 8:00 am to 6:00 pm on public holidays.