State Library of NSW
Old Domain Baths1881
Located on the western side of Woolloomooloo Bay, now the site of the Andrew ‘Boy’ Charlton Pool, this attractive harbourside spot had probably been used as a bathing place by Sydney’s Indigenous people for millennia. From 1815, when a pedestrian path was built — later to be Mrs Macquarie’s Road — European settlers also frequented this secluded area to bathe, away from the prying eyes of townspeople.
The first free public baths, known variously as the Domain Baths, Corporation Bath, or the Fig Tree Baths, were built here in 1858 by Sydney City Council, as a public health measure in the days before indoor plumbing. Although some people did swim, most patrons used the seawater baths to keep clean.