Coogee residents are becoming increasingly concerned over plans to commercialise Wylie’s Baths.
The heritage listed swimming baths are an iconic part of Coogee’s history.
Built 105 years ago by Henry Alexander Wylie, the Baths are currently owned by Randwick Council and controlled by a trust.
Members of the trust have traditionally generated money for the maintenance of the baths by charging a small entrance fee and raising funds from an onsite Kiosk.
In an effort to make more money for upkeep the trust has decided to rent out the small Kiosk to local restaurant owner, Andrew Crabbe.
Mr Crabbe, a former actor, runs the café at the Bondi Icebergs.
Locals are concerned that the character and amenity of the area will be lost should this eventuate.
Local resident Annelise Guest swims there thrice a week come rain or shine.
“It’s outrageous, such an important public recreation hired out. We love Coogee and we love Wylie’s.
But the trust is going to bring all that is tacky, touristy and tasteless about Bondi to spoil Coogee,” she said.
There is concern amongst locals that this will fundamentally change Wylie’s Baths and Coogee beach.
These fears were only exacerbated by Mr Crabbe’s comments: “It’s a gem of a spot but it’s under-utilised.”
However, Petulia Sammias a representative for the NSW Environment and Heritage Office said that the baths are of great historic importance as they were the first place to allow mixed bathing in Australia.
“We heritage list and protect sites like this for a reason. If more people are encouraged to experience this part of our Australian heritage then I see it as a good thing.”
By Michael Leadbetter