December 16, 2018 - January 12, 2019: Issue 388


Pittwater Ocean Swim Series 2019: A Chance To Get Into The Swim Of Things And Enjoy A Celebration Of Beautiful Beaches And Surf Life Saving

Thursday 4th October 1810

A very indecent and improper custom having lately prevailed of soldiers, sailors and inhabitants of the town bathing themselves at all Hours of the Day at the Government Wharf, and also in the Dock-yard, His Excellency the Governor directs and commands that no person shall Bathe at either of those Places in future, at any Hour of the Day; and the Sentinels, posted at the Government Wharf and in the Dock-yard are to receive strict Orders to apprehend and confine any Person transgressing this Order.

By Command of His Excellency,

J. T. Campbell, Sec. GOVERNMENT AND GENERAL ORDERS. (1810, October 13). The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 - 1842), p. 1. Retrieved from

The Season of making like a fish is upon us. It's time to get in the swim of things!

Commencing on Sunday January 6th with the Newport SLSC Pool to Peak range of options for your swimming pleasure, the Pittwater Ocean Swims Series rolls out Ocean Swims at Bilgola (The Billy Swim), Warriewood to Mona Vale (The Don Jenkins Memorial Swim),  the Big Swim from Palm Beach to Whale Beach and the 'Around the Bends' sojourn with short and longer swims for Avalon Beach.

The swims raise vital funds for the surf life saving clubs involved which is put towards equipment and training that saves lives on our beaches.

If you complete three of these five glorious splashes, you go into a random draw for a chance to win a weekend in Byron Bay. Bonus!!

Just don't do them in the nude or weigh yourself down too much by swimming in a dress!

Details of each runs below. 

Newport Pool To Peak Ocean Swims
Sunday January 6th 2019

Run on the first Sunday in January. - a great way to begin the New Year. Newport Surf Club is a family and community focused great group of people. There are always yummy treats for swimmers afterwards - fresh fruit. A breakfast barbecue roll can also be bought for a few coins, funds going to local community projects, and for those who come as support crew, a great coffee is on hand. 

Three distances this season: 800m and 2km, and now also 400m for swimmers as young as 10.


  • Swim - Newport Pool to Peak Ocean Swims
  • Date, Time - Sunday, January 6, 2019, start 9am (400m), 9:15 (800m), 10am (2km) (Registration from 8am)
  • Organiser - Newport Beach SLSC
  • Where - Newport Beach, Sydney northern beaches
  • Minimum age - 10 (400m, 13 (800m, 2km)
  • Course - Circuits from the middle of Newport beach. Course maps will be displayed on the beach.
  • Registration - At Newport Beach SLSC from 7:30am to close 8:45am (800m) and 9:45am (2km)
  • Conditions: Newport is an open beach with shifting breaks, gutters, and rips, with intensity depending on tides, wind and swell direction. The reef off the southern end of the beach offers some protection to moderate swell from the sou'-east.
  • Entry fee: 2km, 800m, 400m - $30 ($40 on race day), Two swims (400m + 2km, or 800m + 2km) - $45 ($60 on race day)
  • Online entries close - 3pm, Saturday, January 5, 2019 - Enter Here

Under 18 swimmers - Parents/guardians of swimmers aged under 18 must complete the online entry form, not the swimmers themselves. They must include their consent to the entry with full name and  phone contact. Just a phone number, a first name, or a number and first name will not do. Entries of U18 swimmers are not complete without this complete parental/guardian consent. Entries of U18 swimmers must use the parent's email address, not that of the U18 swimmer.

Transport and parking - You can catch a bus to Newport Beach (Route 190 runs from Railway Square on a Sunday). With the advent of the new Northern Beaches Council, all local residents (of the northern beaches) with parking stickers on the their car may park for free. The Policy of former Pittwater Council to allow free (legal) parking till 3pm with Pittwater swims has been discontinued by the new council. Park at Newport rugby field, just up Barrenjoey Rd from the beach (same parking area as for Bilgola).

Bilgolas Billy Swim
Sunday January 13, 2019

This tucked away oasis offers two swims for 2019; 500m and the 1.5km (Note that the 500m swim is a new distance at Billy).


  • Date, Time: Sunday, January 13, 2019, start 9am (500m), 10am (1.5km)
  • Organiser: Bilgola SLSC
  • Where: Bilgola Beach, Sydney northern beaches
  • Distances: 500m, 1.5km (Note that the 500m swim is a new distance at Billy.)
  • Minimum age: 15 (both swims)
  • Course: The main swim starts in the middle of Bilgola beach, runs out through the break, heads towards the northern headland, then south towards the southern headland, then back in to finish near where it starts in the middle of the beach.
  • Race day check-in: At Bilgola SLSC, from 8am to close 8:45am (800m) and 9:45am (1.5km)
  • Entry fee: $35 online for one swim, or for both swims - not a bad deal ($45 on race day).
  • Online entries close: 3pm, Saturday, January 12, 2019 - Enter HERE

Under 18 swimmers - Parents/guardians of swimmers aged under 18 must complete the online entry form, not the swimmers themselves. They must include their consent to the entry with full name and  phone contact. Just a phone number, a first name, or a number and first name will not do. Entries of U18 swimmers are not complete without this complete parental/guardian consent. Entries of U18 swimmers must use the parent's email address, not that of the U18 entrant.

Parking: If you drive, park in the special event parking area at Porter Reserve, North Newport, in Burke St off Barrenjoey Rd, then catch the free shuttle to Billie beach. If you park at the beach, parking will be very congested. The new Northern Beaches Council has abandoned the policy of the previous Pittwater Council of allowing free parking on swim days. Now, only those with Council stickers will receive free parking. Everyone else will have to pay, as per the signs up in these areas.

Bilgola, Sunday 30th November 1913 - from Album 63: Photographs of the Allen family, 18 October 1913 - 9 August 1914 - courtesy Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales

41st Warriewood To Mona Vale Ocean Swim
Sunday January 20, 2019

 There's two swims at Mona Vale -- do the new 900m Little Swim at Mona Vale, then hop on the free shuttle to Warriewood for the 2.2km back along the beach into Bongin Bongin Bay.

This is a "Family, Friendly Swim", as the organisers style it. The event is named for late Mona Vale club stalwart, Don Jenkin.


  • Event - 41st Warriewood-Mona Vale Ocean Swim + The Bongin Bongin Swim
  • Venue - Warriewood Beach, Sydney northern beaches, registration and swim HQ on beach at Warriewood.
  • Distances - 900m (Mona Vale to Bongin Bongin Bay), 2.2km Warriewood to Mona Vale (Bongin Bongin Bay)
  • Time/Date - Sunday, January 20, 2019, 9am race start (900m), and 10:30am (2.2km)
  • Registration - Race day - From 7:30am (at Mona Vale SLSC for The Little Swim), then from 8:30am at Warriewood Beach for the 2.2km swim (park at Mona Vale and catch the free shuttle over to Warriewood, or park at Warriewood and schlepp back there after the swim)
  • Entry fee - $30 for each swim ($40 on race day) or $50 for both swims (online only - if you enter on race day for both swims, you will pay $80.
  • Minimum age - 12
  • Online entries close - 3pm, Saturday, January 19, 2019 - Enter HERE

Under 18 swimmers - Parents/guardians of swimmers aged under 18 must complete the online entry form, not the swimmers themselves. They must include their consent to the entry with full name and  phone contact. Just a phone number, a first name, or a number and first name will not do. Entries of U18 swimmers are not complete without this complete parental/guardian consent. Entries without valid parental consent will not be accepted. Entries of U18 swimmers must use the parent's email address, not that of the U18 entrant.

Parking and Gear Drop - With the amalgamation of the three local councils along the Northern Beaches, there no longer is free parking for this event. Make sure you park legally, and make sure you feed the meter. Swimmers will do best by parking at Mona Vale and use the free shuttle between Mona Vale SLSC and Warriewood both before and after the swim. There is a bag drop at Warriewood to bring your gear back to Mona Vale.

The Big Swim: Palm Beach-Whale Beach
Sunday January 27th, 2018

The Little Big Swim

A big swim and a big season classic. Around Little Head from Palm to Whale. You can also get into  The Little Big Swim, a 1km circuit off Palm Beach. You may enter either swim or both swims.

The Little Big Swim is intended for newer, beginner ocean swimmers. This season it's possible to enter both swims. This covers both swimmers who wish to accompany other swimmers in The Little Big Swim, and those who simply wish to swim both swims. Be aware, there is a limit of 500 entries to The Little Big Swim. Once this limit is reached, entries to that event will close.

Fins & Skins

There is a category for a more relaxed, back-of-the-pack type of swim - Fins & Skins. This is available only in The Big Swim. Just select as appropriate when you enter online.

Check The Big Swim website for complete information.


  • There are no new entries accepted on race day. This means that you must enter online by 3pm on Saturday, January 26, 2019.
  • Entry fees are - Big Swim 17 years + - $45, Little Big Swim 17 years + - $40, Both swims 17 years + - $70, Big Swim 12-16 years - $30, Little Big Swim 12-16 years - $30, Both swims 12-16 years - $60 - Enter HERE
  • Swim start time: 8:30am (The Little Big Swim) and 10am (The Big Swim). Be at Palm Beach to check in at least an hour ahead of your first event.

Under 18 swimmers - Parents/guardians of swimmers aged under 18 must complete the online entry form, not the swimmers themselves. They must include their consent to the entry with full name and  phone contact. Just a phone number, a first name, or a number and first name will not do. Entries of U18 swimmers are not complete without this complete parental/guardian consent. Entries of U18 swimmers must use the parent's email address, not that of the U18 entrant.

Transport and parking - Parking is difficult at Palm Beach and Whale Beach during Summer and there is no free parking at Palm Beach or at Whale Beach for this event this season. The new Northern Beaches Council has adopted a different policy to that of its predecessor here (Pittwater Council). Council rangers will be out and will book cars parked illegally and/or overstaying their allowed time. See The Big Swim website for more complete info (link above). Best to car pool and/or use one of the special car parks designated by Whale Beach SLSC, then use the event shuttle bus to get to swim start and back from Whale Beach afterwards.

Details for parking: NORTH AVALON — the soccer fields just past the Careel Head Road turn off.  Signs along Barrenjoey Road will direct cars to the soccer field parking area,  where marshals will assist you with parking. If the soccer field car park is full, parking is available along Barrenjoey Road. FREE SHUTTLE BUS service from North Avalon to the Palm Beach ferry wharf then on to Palm Beach start and return to the carpark and Palm Beach ferry wharf from the finish at Whale Beach. Spectators can take shuttle buses from Palm Beach start to race finish. The shuttles will run until 3pm so you can enjoy some of the 'afters' put on at Whale Beach SLSC.

Newport To Avalon 'Around The Bends'Swim  + Avalon Beach Surf Swims
Sunday April 14, 2019

Following the postponement of the Avalon swims to April, the organisers decided to reschedule their day permanently to April,  with all three Avalon distances on the one day. These include the Newport to Avalon Swim, and the Avalon Beach Surf Swims of 1.5km and 1km.

Organisers say...

"Avalon boasts one of the most picturesque coastlines of all the Northern Beaches beauties. With the help of the ‘North Avalon express’, you can get an easy ride out past the flowing seaweed and sea life covered rocks to the first bouy before swimming across the beach to the pool and back to the new club house.  

"Imagine the feeling of doing so with your child by your side! While Avalon’s shore dump can at times be tricky to navigate, the easy ride out and the scenic swim across the beach between the headlands make it all worthwhile, and of course offers valid bragging rights for you and/or your child as soon as landing on the sandy finish line!"

The Newport to Avalon Swim will run first at 8am, followed by the 1km ‘kids and beginners’ swim at 9:30 and the 1.5km event at 10:30am.


  • Swim - Newport to Avalon Swim & Avalon Beach Surf Swims
  • Date, Time - Postponed to Sunday, April 14, 2019, 8am (Newport to Avalon), 9.30am (1km), 10:30am (1.5km)
  • Organiser - Avalon Beach SLSC
  • Where - Avalon Beach, Sydney northern beaches (check-in/registration and start of Newport to Avalon is at northern end of Newport Beach)
  • Distances - 2.5km (Newport to Avalon), 1km Kids swim (but open to anyone), and 1.5km
  • Minimum ages - Newport to Avalon - 13, 1km – U10 nippers (9 years), 1.5km - 10
  • Under 18 swimmers - Parents/guardians of swimmers aged under 18 must complete the online entry form, not the swimmers themselves. They must include their consent to the entry with full name and  phone contact. Just a phone number, a first name, or a number and first name will not do. Entries of U18 swimmers are not complete without this complete parental/guardian consent. Entries of U18 swimmers must use the parent's email, address, not that of the U18 entrant.
  • Courses - Newport to Avalon starts at the northern end of Newport Beach and heads out around the headland past Bilgola, then past another headland into Avalon. At Avalon, the 1.5km swim starts at the northern end of the beach, out through the break via the "North Avalon Express", thence towards the southern headland, then north to finish in front of the new clubhouse. The 1km swim is a circuit off the beach.
  • Registration - On-line here. Registration on the day is available from 8am at Avalon Beach SLSC. NB: There will be no entry to the Newport-Avalon swim on race day. All entries to Newport-Avalon must be online here. You can check-in on race day at north Newport carpark.
  • Back of the Pack - Avalon introduces this season a Back of the Pack division for those who'd like a more relaxed swim. You can select this division when you enter online.
  • Entry fees - $30 for each swim or $50 for two swims. Race day entries cost $10 extra. NB: There will be no entry to the Newport-Avalon swim on race day. All entries to Newport-Avalon must be online. 
  • Online entries close - 3pm, Saturday, April 13, 2019

Shuttle transport - There will be a free shuttle running between Newport and Avalon beaches between 10:30am and 1:30pm. This means you can park in Newport, swim the Bends swim to Avalon (your gear will be transported between the beaches for you), then get the shuttle back to Newport afterwards. Pick up point is Avalon on Barrenjoey Rd in front of the surf club and drop off at Newport on Barrenjoey Rd at the northern end of the beach carpark. Departure times from Avalon are on the half hour from 10:30 through 1:30.

Transport and parking - Free parking will be available in the reserve opposite Avalon Beach Public School in Old Barrenjoey Road, and in the parking area at netball courts at the end of Central Rd. Otherwise, you can catch a bus to Avalon Beach (Route 190 runs from Railway Square on a Sunday). Parking will be available at the beach, but you’ll need to get in early. For those doing the Around the Bends Swim from Newport to Avalon, there will be bag transport provided to get your stuff from Newport back to Avalon, and a shuttle bus from Avalon to Newport at 12, 12:30, 1, and 1:30. 

Some Local Swimming Spots from Earlier On

The first local swimmers here were the aboriginal peoples who fished and played in the waters off our beaches and in the Pittwater estuary. The first Europeans to swim here were those having a little look around in 1788. Then, of course, there were no roads as there are at present. A description supplied by Captain Hunter of an excursion made by a party from "the settlement" is interesting. Captain Hunter writes:— 

"In the morning of June 13, 1788, we Intended to land well up this branch (Pittwater), in order to avoid the most difficult and tiresome part of the road to Port Jackson. We embarked after we had breakfasted, and rowed up about a couple of miles, when the party for walking went on shore, each with his arms and knapsack containing two days' provisions. We were about half an hour In getting through the wood which led to the sea coast, where we fell Into our own and well-known path, and by 4 o'clock In the afternoon arrived at tin? north part of Port Jackson; but we might as well have been fifty leagues off, for here we could have no communication either with the Sirius or the settlement, and no boat had been ordered to meet us. We went Immediately to work and made a large fire, by which we lay all night, which happened to be very cold,

"The next day we crossed the hills and came to the mouth of the north-west harbor, but could not find the means of crossing It. Muskets had been frequently fired during the night in the hopes that some boat might have been down the harbor fishing, and heard them. We found this morning a canoe upon the beach, with which we had no doubt of getting two men across the water, who could In a short time walk over to the cove where the Sirius lay; but this prospect was disappointed by the first man who entered the canoe having overset her, and she Immediately sank, and he was obliged to swim ashore. After this we went to work to make a catamaran of the lightest wood we could find, but when finished and launched it would not bear the weight of one man. 

"It was now proposed to walk round the head of the north-west harbor, which would have been a good long Journey for at Ieast two days, and our provisions were nearly expended. To this proposal I was under the necessity of objecting for want of shoes, the last march having tore all but the soles from my feet, and they were tied on with spun-yarn. I therefore declined the proposed walk, and determined to go back to Broken Bay, and rejoin the boats. . .we were just upon the point of setting out when two of the people who were with us proposed swimming over the water and to cross through the wood to the Sirius. They immediately stripped, and each having had a dram they tied up in a handkerchief some clothes, which rested upon their shoulders. Thus equipped they took to the water, and in seven minutes landed on the opposite shore; but one, being seized with cramp, was obliged to disengage himself from his bundle, which was of course lost. They set off through the woods and in a short time got on board the ship— the one with his shirt and trousers, the other perfectly naked. Upon, their information a boat was sent down and took us on board, after a pretty fatiguing Journey."

Although people obviously utilised Narrabeen Lagoon and the coastal beaches for 'bathing' as it was then known, from the earliest times of European settlement, the fencing off of estuary 'bathing pools' to protect those having a dip from sharks, and the advertising of these when selling properties from the 1890's on, is our first clear proof of areas set aside and dedicated to the wonderful 'get in the briny'. This 'bathing place' tradition was continued in all those little cottages that would be rented out for the Summer months from the 1890's on.

The 1909 'Rock Bath' at Mona Vale was one of the earlier local pools constructed on the ocean side, the 1912 Palm Beach Land Sales brought a public pool to people:

County Cumberland, parish Narrabeen, below high-water mark, Pitt water, portion Sp. L. 1912 4 ; Ms. 3,922 Sy. Area, 1 rood 20 perches. 

1917 -1176 Barranjoey Co., Ltd., 14 Castlereagh-st., Sydney. No. of Application – 1912 – 4Metropolitan Bathing Place – from 1 Jan. 1917 to 31 Dec. 1921

Special Lease 1912 4, Metropolitan. Barrenjoey Company, Limited.—The lease shall be subject to subsections 1, 3, 4, G to 0, 11, and 13 of Regulation No. 10G (notified 20th April, 1917), and to the following special conditions:—(a) The lessees shall permit children attending any school in Warringah Shire, and in charge of teachers, to have the free use of the baths without payment on one day in each week between the hours of 2 p.m. and 4 p.m., such children to provide their own towels and bathing costumes. (b) The lessees shall have not less than three life-buoys readily available at all times, (c) The lessees shall be responsible for the proper conduct and cleanliness of the baths, and shall compel bathers to wear suitable bathing costumes, (d) The lessees shall, after determination of the lease by forfeiture, effluxion of time, or otherwise, and within such time as may be given, remove the structure or all or any material from the land at their own cost, and without compensation, if required by the Minister in writing to do so. (e) The lessees shall, within six months from the date of notification in the Government Gazette of the granting of the extension of the term of the lease, enclose the land with a shark-proof fence, and maintain such fence in efficient repair throughout the currency of the lease. (f) A breach of any of the conditions, or the occurrence of any indecent or disorderly conduct, will render the lease liable to forfeiture. EXTENSION OF TERMS OF SPECIAL LEASES. (1917, November 2). Government Gazette of the State of New South Wales (Sydney, NSW : 1901 - 2001), p. 5968. Retrieved from 

You can read a little more in Pittwater's Ocean Beach Rock Pools: Southern Corners Of Bliss - A History

It is the change in swimming 'costumes', or the unchanging in some cases, that most mark the changes of course, and once brought up questions such as 'should men wear skirts?' - not kilts - skirts;


By 'Porpoise.'

SHOULD men wear skirts? 

The reply of the local government authorities is, 'Yes; when they are surf-bathing.' It takes a small thing to amuse a whole city provided it happens to be the right thing, and unquestionably it was the 'right thing' on this occasion. The ukase went forth from certain Mayors — whose portraits are here given — that anyone indulging in surf-bathing in future should wear a certain costume, or be fined from £1 to £20. This peculiar dress seems to have absorbed the principal features of a long-sleeved jersey, a pair of trousers, and a woman's skirt. It is issued as a local government product, and was designed in a government department. A suitable decoration would be red tape along the seams. The Mayors of Randwick, Waverley, and Manly approved the costume, and there are divers penalties for those who offend. It becomes unlawful to expose the arm above the elbow. This is regarded as an important achievement. It is very hopeful indeed that the ordinance is an official matter. Anyone who had doubts of the costume at first cannot but admit that capable men probably designed it— men who had won departmental promotion with bridge designs, road-laying, planning out storm culverts, and so on. If such officials could not cut out a new combination skirt and trousers, who could? 

It is pointed out that the trousers, which form part of the bathing combination, must extend to the bend of the knee. It is certainly an equitable dispensation that female as well as male bathers have to wear the trousers. It would have been manifestly unfair to hand the women's skirts over to the men in the absence of a fitting, indeed a well-fitting, quid pro quo. We rather think that there is room for other suggestions. It has struck many surf-bathers that a bald head among the gay, disporting groups looks singularly out of place. A bald man always looks as if he is catching cold, and you feel sorry for him, and unhappy, and in any event the sun dancing on his pate dazzles the eyes of other bathers, and prevents them seeing sharks. The bald man should be compelled to wear a cap. Then, again, there may be some aldermen and other people who have as much objection to looking at a leg below the knee as the Mayors of Randwick, Waverley, and Manly have to catching a chance glimpse of a naughty pink arm between the elbow and the shoulder. Every calf is not a thing of beauty, we regret to say, and if we are to cultivate an aesthetic taste we should take no risks, but insist on all bathers wearing trousers reaching to the ankles. But would we stop here? On the same ground there is an objection to the human foot. If there is any part of the human form that is unpicturesque it is the foot, and we are surprised that the Mayors of Randwick. Waverley, and Manly, and the local government officials, overlooked this fact. The foot must go. The Government Architect will no doubt be able 10 design a suitable surf-bathing boot. With these amendments the ordinance would have wide approval. If it were still found that too much of the human form were occasionally seen, the ordinance might be further amended by limiting the bathing hours to between 9 p.m. and 4.30 a.m.— moonlight nights excepted. The men who delight to lie in the sun are to be 'moved on' — another great reform. They will in future be located in rocky recesses on the coastal cliffs. If these rules do not cope with the evil of popular enjoyment and healthful pastime, a further amendment could be introduced to build breakwaters along all Australian beaches to keep the surf out altogether.


This is the new skirt costume which by local government ordinance is to be forced upon all Sydney surf-bathers. The bathers are up in arms. The costume is the principal topic of conversation among thousands of them. It may be observed that two costumes are being worn by the bather shown above. The skirt costume having short sleeves, another jersey was put on underneath, to show the long sleeves required by the ordinance. The picture as a whole is accurate. Our idea is that the skirt and trousers are unnecessarily long and awkward. There is no reason why they should extend lower than midway between the hip and the knee. Nor is there any reason for sleeves to the elbow. Some swimmers at Manly are wearing a Canadian costume that meets all requirements. It is sleeveless, and has a short 'apron' or 'skirt.'

Photo, by Talma Studios, 374 George-street, Sydney. J. C. McDOUGALL, Mayor of Randwick, whose name is associated with the skirt proposition.

Photo, by Newman. R. G. WATKINS, Mayor of Waverley, the principal advocate of the costume shown on this page.

Photo, by Henry M. Ashby. J. LEARMONTH, Mayor of Manly, who is reported to have approved the Skirt Costume.

Surf-Bathing. (1907, October 16). The Sydney Mail and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1871 - 1912), p. 1013. Retrieved from 

"In the surf, Mona Vale" ca. 1900-1927, Sydney & Ashfield : Broadhurst Post Card Publishers Image No. a106014 from the collections of the State Library of NSW.

Pittwater Ocean Swims Series 2019 by A J Guesdon, 2018