If you find yourself in the Australian city of Newcastle located just 2 hours north of Sydney you must head to The Bogey Hole! New South Wales is full of ocean pools and secret swimming spots but The Bogey Hole in Newcastle has to be my favourite. It is very iconic to the local people yet it remains fairly unknown to many tourists. These historic ocean baths are a much-loved swimming spot and make for some fantastic Instagrammable photographs. The Bogey Hole is a really fun place, but you do need to be careful there. Here’s all you need to know about The Bogey Hole in Newcastle!
History of The Bogey Hole
The Bogey Hole in Newcastle is also known as Commandant’s Baths as it was built by the order of Major James Morisset in 1820, who was Commandant of Newcastle at the time. The baths were built for Morisset’s personal use and were hand carved out of the ocean rocks by British and Irish convicts. They are recognised as the first known ocean pool on Australia’s East Coast and possibly in the whole of Australia. For this reason they are an important part of NSW history and are heritage listed.
By 1863 Commandant’s Baths was handed over to Newcastle Borough Council and then it became open to the general public. During this time the baths were mainly for male use only, with females being allowed to visit only at certain times. Later the baths became known as The Bogey Hole. It is said it is called The Bogey Hole as this came from an indigenous word meaning ‘to bathe’.
How to get to The Bogey Hole
The Bogey Hole is at the bottom of Shepherd’s Hill and can easily be accessed by foot as it is just a short walk from the centre of Newcastle. It can be reached from Newcastle Beach – just head to the right and carry on along Shortland Esplanade and you’ll reach The Bogey Hole. Alternatively go through King Edward Park and follow the path down to The Bogey Hole. You’ll see metal stairs (perhaps 40 stairs roughly) leading down to a platform, with stairs that you can go down into the pool. Click here to see the Google maps location.
If you are driving you’ll find lots of on street parking nearby. Most of it is free, but be sure to look at the signs to make sure you know the time limit you can stay (2P means 2 hours free parking). NSW is particularly hot on catching out motorists so make sure to read the sign so you don’t get a fine! You can park near The Obelisk or any of the roads off King Edward Park such as The Terrace, Wolfe Street or York Drive.
Important Safety at The Bogey Hole
Despite The Bogey Hole being a pool, remember it backs onto the ocean. Sometimes the ocean can be calm but equally sometimes the waves can be very, very strong and the ocean waves crash into the pool with a lot of force. Several people have died here and you’ll even see a memorial here to the lives lost. Even I injured myself as one of the waves sent me crashing against a sharp rock and I gashed my hand open really deep. Sometimes the ocean will be calm for ages and then all of a sudden a big wave will come. Just keep looking out into the ocean so you are prepared if any big waves come.
Enjoy yourself whilst you are here but equally you do need to be sensible and cautious.
To keep safe:
- visit at low tide
- never visit alone. The baths are not patrolled and there is no lifeguard here.
- be very careful if you are on the rocks as they are very slippery
- never dive. The depth at the bottom varies greatly as it is natural rocks at the bottom. Some parts are a lot shallower than others.
Be very careful if you bring young children here due to the slippery rocks and waves.
When to visit The Bogey Hole
The Bogey Hole is free to visit and is open 24 hours. Although for the reasons mentioned above, for your safety you should aim only to go to The Bogey Hole at low tide to minimise any chances of injury caused by the waves. Click here to view tide times for Newcastle.
If you visit on a hot sunny day, prepare for some crowds. If you visit on a cooler day like I did, you’ll be lucky that there will only be a few other people there. People usually come and go fairly quickly, so if there is a big group of people there, it won’t be long before they move on. Plus the pool is fairly big that it is easy enough to get pictures without other people in.
Where to leave your Personal Belongings
There is no secure/lockable place to leave your belongings. Most people leave their belongings halfway down the stairs or at the bottom of the stairs. Not only do you not want someone to take your belongings, but you also don’t want them to get drenched by a big wave! For this reason I advise to leave your belongings halfway down the stairs. You can always tie them to the railings if you wish. As always nothing is ever guaranteed, but you should be okay as you aren’t too far away and your belongings are never actually out of your sight.
It is fine to leave towels hanging on the railing at the bottom, but if you don’t have a waterproof bag I don’t advise leaving any valuables at the bottom of the stairs as sometimes a big wave can come and get the bottom couple of stairs wet.
What to bring to The Bogey Hole
- suncream – The Bogey Hole is not in a shaded area, you will be exposed to the sun here.
Where to get the best pictures of The Bogey Hole
There are stunning views from The Bogey Hole looking out across Newcastle and the Pacific Ocean.
From the fenced off cliff edge above The Bogey Hole you can get some really great pictures looking down onto The Bogey Hole. You can also get some great shots from the stairs leading down to the pool, or even down at the pool edge. There is a little platform that can hold several people so you can get someone to take pictures for you there.
Whether you visit when the ocean is calm or when the waves are crashing into The Bogey Hole, you can always get impressive photographs that are totally Instagrammable! Sunrise is also a great time to get good photographs here.
How to get to Newcastle
Newcastle is located 2 hours north of Sydney. You can drive here along the Pacific Motorway or alternatively you can get the train from Sydney’s Central Station.
Heading towards Sydney?
If you are looking for other day trip ideas in New South Wales, check out Palm Beach, it is Sydney’s most northern beach and will take about 2.5 hours to drive there from Newcastle. It is the perfect place to stop before you head into Sydney, especially if you are a fan of the TV soap Home and Away!
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