Community fights to save Willy pool from Council redevelopment


    By Vin Maskell

    What is a swimming club without a swimming pool?

    This is the dilemma facing the Williamstown Swimming & Life Saving Club as it fights to retain its pool, lawn, and kiosk in a proposed $14.5million redevelopment. 

    Hobsons Bay City Council released concept plans for the club’s redevelopment late last year, with no provision to replace the club’s current pool, built in 1962.

    After more than 60 years of use, the pool requires an upgrade. Current redevelopment plans however have scrapped the pool altogether – a blow to many, including local schools, and community groups who access the pool for training programs, as well as Nippers and swimmers who access the pool on days of poor water quality.

    A recent survey of members has shown an overwhelming majority support for retaining and upgrading the existing outdoor pool, as well as maintaining the much-loved lawn area and the current kiosk.

    Formed in 1920, the club has 1500 members, including 355 children in its Nippers program and 17 in the all-important Starfish Nippers program for children with special needs. The club’s pavilion, familiar to viewers of the classic Australian drama Sea Change, will be retained, but not will not be visible from the exterior.

    Local community members are also not happy to learn the ever-popular Kiosk d’Asporto will be negatively impacted by these plans. Residents are very attached to the beachside cafe (coffee and calamari served with Italian pizazz!) and are dubious regarding what might replace it. Additionally, the cherished lawn area, which hosts the Friday night Lawn Bar and facilitates the Nippers and Starfish Nipper programs will be lost in its current form under these plans.

    Williamstown swimmer Karen van Wyngaarden has been a member of the club for more than 20 years. “I was very fortunate to be honoured with Life membership of the WSLSC in 2023, so it is bittersweet that the club may not be in its current form in the future.

    “The pool, kiosk and lawn aren’t there to be torn down by HBCC after generations have worked so hard to raise funds to build the training pool and club infrastructure.

    “There’s so many layers to the plans and by stripping away these important assets from the club the redevelopment will irrevocably change the face of the WSLSC.”

    Current members of the Club and concerned residents are rallying to oppose the current plans. 

    Above: Karen van Wyngaarden (right) with fellow members of the Williamstown Swimming & Life Saving Club, Merrin McTaggart and Kaye Tompkins. Photos courtesy of WLSLC.

    If you have any interest in maintaining the pool, lawn, and kiosk, you can access more information at the ‘Save the Pool’ website or by emailing

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