I wanted somewhere I could park close to the pool so it would be easy to get Jake to and from the car (especially if he was going to be swimming which as all Mums know is tiring and often ends in a tanty), it had to be close enough to home so that we wouldn't spend a long time in the car and I wanted a shallow area he could play in (while I lounged) and deeper water where he could practise jumping in.
Port Kembla fitted the bill and as an added bonus it's a short drive from there to Warrawong shopping mall so if the stars aligned (Mummy still feeling patient and child still awake) we could detour there to buy the fridge thermometer I so desperately need (no, seriously, I must have one urgently).
We found our way easily after a quick look on google maps, the route was direct and easy to remember despite the chatter coming from the back seat.
We drove past Port Kembla Steelworks, which is an amazing display of industrial buildings and sometimes the "cloud factory" (steam coming from the chimneys) is making clouds so that's fun to look at as we drive past. Today though my son was thrilled to see flames coming from the chimney "Look, Mummy, fire!!" Let's hope nothing was burning.
There was plenty of parking in the car park and we stopped and walked across the road to the pool entrance. Port Kembla pool is next to but not on the beach. Like Thirroul Swimming Pool further north it is a walled pool filled with filtered sea water. However it's more modern than Thirroul.
Walking in we went first to the changing rooms which were communal and clean. The toilets were in there too which is handy if you have a little one with you. There are also hot showers, great for warming up at the end but not so great if another swimmer chooses to leave the door open while showering and your three year old picks this moment to demonstrate his knowledge of parts of the female anatomy "Shhhh! yes, that's very clever but let's not shout those words out" Mummy is wondering if teaching him the correct words was such a great idea after all.
Coming out of the changing rooms Jake made immediately for the pools. There are three.
The main one is for lap swimmers but coming off from the side of this is another area of water, the bottom of which slopes so that as it nears the edges it comes level with the path around the pool. Walking in to this area we gradually went deeper and deeper until Jake was up to his chin.
Next he spotted the littlies pool. I loved this area. At the sides the water is level with the path. It gradually gets deeper in to the middle, where it was up to his waist, perfect for running about in. It's covered in sail cloth and there is a wall around one side and a few chairs to sit on. He asked for his boat and spent the next twenty minutes pushing it through the water. This area is fenced and has a child safe gate so I felt very relaxed in this area and had a lovely time admiring the sandy coloured walls which complemented perfectly the beautiful blue sky above. Standing up I could just see the tops of headlands to the south over the wall and even though I couldn't see the beach from where I was I could feel the sea air and the place seemed to have that wonderfully relaxed beachy feel to it.
Next we tried the children's pool which was up to his waist at the shallow end. It gets deeper from one end to the other and we walked a little way in to it but this pool was a little colder than the shallower waters so we moved back to the shallow part of the main pool.
After exploring the bubbles coming up at the side of the main pool we decided it was time to go. A hot shower for Jake while I got changed was the perfect end to the outing and we headed back to the car for a run to the shops before heading home.
Who should go: This pool is wonderfully well designed with areas for everyone from babies to adults.
When to go: I went in February on a day when it was in the high twenties. The pool isn't heated, which is fine if you're swimming laps but if I was going with children and I'd pick a hot day.
Where it is: Take the M1 or B65 South then join Five Islands Road and travel east. Follow five islands road past the steel works. Be sure to peel off to the left and continue on Five Islands road rather than continuing straight on Grand Pacific Drive to Warrawong. Five Islands Road changes in to Military Road. Follow it round to the right and look for Cowper Street. You'll pass a play park on the right and you can't miss the pool as you come to it directly after this.
What to bring: Sunscreen, Swimmers, Towel, Hats.
Facilities: Pool, Toddler Pool, Children's Pool, Toilets, Changing Rooms, Hot Showers, Kiosk, Car Park, Playground across from car park.
Opening Hours: See council website link for hours and also for when the pools are closed for cleaning