A call to action!

by Janet Grigg
The next Moreland Council meeting is on:

Wednesday 9 April at 7 pm
Council Chamber, Brunswick Town Hall
Corner Sydney Road and Dawson Street, Brunswick

We'd like lots of people to come along with banners and props such as goggles, beach towells, sun hats, inflatables etc. Bring your children, let your friends and neighbours know the date. Let's show how important the Coburg Olympic Pool is to this community!

This picture is of my daughter pressing up against the pool on a warm day in late January, asking me mournfully why we can't go for swim in this pool.

Easter chalking

by Janet Grigg
A few FOCOP met down by the Merri Creek on Friday morning to chalk messages about the pool on the bikepath and attach some fantastic signs made ealier in the week to the outside of the pool fence.

It was great fun, with the kids getting right into it and the grownups writing slogans and talking with passers by about the pool and what's going on. There's a lot of support out there!

Potted history of Coburg Olympic Swimming Pool

by Kitty Owens
(Reference Richard Broome, Between Two Creeks, Coburg Historical Society 2001)

People have swum in Merri Creek at Coburg, near the site of Coburg Olympic Pool, for a very long time. The banks of the Merri Creek were important fishing and ceremonial locations for the Wurundjeri. Coburg Lake was a popular Melbourne swimming destination early last century, peaking in the 1920s. Coburg Lake had wading pools, a diving board, bathing sheds, as well as band on a Sunday, and a kiosk.

1928 Coburg Lake looking northeast from Murray road

1932 swimming at Coburg Lake Reserve
(both photographs used with permission of the Coburg Historic Society)

The Coburg Olympic Pool was built to replace the creek (and lake) as a swimming spot for local children. In 1958 the Coburg Lake was closed for swimming due to water contamination. A week before this, 2 girls drowned in the Merri Creek in East Coburg . ‘A citizens committee started to raise funds for a swimming pool near the lake. The Coburg Olympic Pool finally opened in 1965, paid for by a special rate, grant and loans moneys.’ (quote from p325).

Coburg Olympic Pool is what we have left of swimming in Merri creek and we should not be so quick to talk of economising and centralising.

I don't want a super modern aquatic centre, I just want my local pool re-opened.

by Melissa Alexander
One of the reasons Moreland City Council are hesitant about re-opening up our local outdoor pool is that they have dreams of a fantastic new facility that will encompass all the best water activities. I imagine the new aquatic centre will be enormous with everything from surfing to diving. If we forfeit what we already have to make way for bigger and better we will lose exactly what we love about our old pool.

Coburg outdoor Olympic pool is surrounded by tall gum trees, grassy knolls and is right next to a significant meeting place of our indigenous friends, the confluence of the Merri and Edgars creeks. Not only have we lost a communal meeting space of our own, we know have nowhere to cool off. In Coburg North we have no access to the beach and nobody has their own backyard pool. The council has put on a bus that goes to other pools in the municipality but I cannot take my double pram on this bus. I must drive myself. Previously I used to walk seven minutes to our pool and even if I did not swim but just sat and watched my children play, I would cool down.   

Sitting on the lawn in complete shade, surrounded by the water in the pools and the running water of the creeks, there is always a breeze. There is nowhere else within walking distance where I can achieve this and this is the desired outcome of going to the pool. I cannot cool off at the indoor pool. It is unimaginably uncomfortable sitting on hard wooden benches and sweating under the heater is the last thing I want to do on a forty degree day. Until the new centre is built I have two options, go to the indoor pool or drive to an outdoor pool.

The new facility is actually nothing more than a pipe dream at the moment and is years away. There are no plans, nothing is concrete. It may never happen. The onus is on the council to maintain current facilities before they move onto new ones. With all their talk of being green and sustainable I don’t know of anything that is more unsustainable than letting infrastructure fall into disrepair as an excuse to build brand new.

This year is an election year. I put it to the people of Moreland to vote in only councilors that will support the re-opening, maintenance and upkeep of our existing pool. I also ask that we put the pressure on the council to build an aquatic centre that will meet our needs. We do not always need the most magnificent and stupendous of structures. Something that is appropriate to place and need will always be best.