Council meeting records have revealed the history of the 66-year-old Anzac Pool and how the decision to build the city’s first Olympic-sized facility came about.
When damage was sustained to the original memorial baths, opened in 1923, the Council of the day decided that, rather than invest in fixing the existing outdated infrastructure, they would invest in the future.
Thus, in 1955 the decision to construct the Anzac Pool in its current form was made.
A Council engineer’s report dated 4 July 1954 detailed how cracks in the original memorial baths, caused by fig tree roots, gave way and about “80 ft. of the western wall of the pool collapsed yesterday without warning”.
Upon purchase of the memorial bath no records of the build were available so “it was assumed the pool was of normal construction”.
“It is now found that the concrete was not reinforced,” the 1954 engineer’s report said.
“It is hard to understand how it did not collapse long ago with the large number of cracks in it, and with no steel to hold it in place.”
The engineer’s report provided an alternate proposal to fixing the damaged pool that would also cater to the future needs of the growing city.
“The size of the existing pool while adequate for most occasions at present, even with the present population, it is overcrowded at times,” the engineer’s report said.
“Consideration should be given whether a large pool of Olympic Standard should be constructed or deferred to some future date.”
While the proposal came with some difficulties – the requirement for an immediate loan, the need for Lands Department consent and the need to expedite plans for approval so construction could commence without delay – its merits were supported.
On 7 July 1955 Alderman Rattray submitted a Special report of the Public Utilities Committee on Swimming Pool Re-construction which recommended:
“That instead of endeavouring to rebuild the present pool the Council (subject to obtaining the necessary finance) take steps to construct a swimming pool of Olympic standard 165 ft long by 48 ft wide on the present site, to meet present and future needs of the city.”
His motion, seconded by Alderman McCracken, was carried unanimously.
Olympic-sized pool becomes much-loved community facility
City Engineer C.S. Brewer reported back to Council in January of 1956 on the progress of the new Anzac Olympic-sized pool which was an immediate success with the community.
“The new pool was completed to the stage to allow swimming on 24th December ,” his report said.
“A temporary fence was erected and the old entrance building is being used until the new one is constructed.
“The effort to get the job complete to its present stage has been well worthwhile as the attendance has exceeded expectations.”
The Olympic-sized Anzac Pool was officially opened by Mayor F.H. Buss on Saturday 31 March 1956.
The entry building was officially opened by Mayor C.J. Nielsen on 1 February 1971.
Community celebrates 50 years of Anzac Pool
By way of formal resolution at its 23 February 2006 meeting, Council resolved to support what was dubbed the “Anzac Park Pool Anniversary Bash”.
The resolution read “[t]hat approval be granted for the conduct of 50th Anniversary Celebrations at the Anzac Park Swimming Pool on 1st April, 2006.”
The Anzac Pool’s 50th birthday bash featured a jumping castle, free sausage sizzle with donations made to Legacy and free pool entry from 10 am to noon.
Invited guests included previous pool managers, councillors, executive members (past and present) and local swimming clubs.
New era for Anzac precinct
After 66 years the Anzac Pool has become an outdated facility with increasing maintenance and operational costs and limited space for further expansion.
The announcement that Bundaberg Regional Council would develop a new Bundaberg Regional Aquatic Centre featuring a FINA standard Olympic-sized pool marked the beginning of the Anzac precinct’s next major redevelopment.
The Anzac Park redevelopment will feature an adventure-style playground with zero-depth water play, outdoor event space with stage, improved riverside access and an Anzac war memorial.