The Iconic Newcastle Bogey Hole – A Local’s Guide
The Newcastle Bogey Hole is a popular tourist destination located on the eastern coast of Australia in the city of Newcastle. It has a rich history and is a popular spot for locals and tourists to cool off during the hot summer months.
It is located at the base of a cliff near the ocean, and the only way to access it is by climbing down a steep set of stairs.
The Bogey Hole is surrounded by a large rock platform, and visitors can sunbathe or relax on the rocks while watching the waves crash into the pool.
The pool itself is quite deep, and visitors can swim in the clear, cool water while watching the waves crash over the edge of the pool.
The water in the Bogey Hole is refreshed by the ocean every high tide, which helps keep the water clean and clear.
The Bogey Hole is also known for its stunning views of the Pacific Ocean.
The Bogey Hole is not only a beautiful and unique swimming spot, but it also has a rich history with it originally being designed for longest serving Commandant, James Morisset back in 1819. The pool was hand hewn from the wave-cut rock platform by convicts for the Commandant’s own personal use. It was originally referred to back then as the “Commandant’s Baths”.
It wasn’t until many years later that the former commandant’s baths received their current name the “Bogey Hole” from the indigenous word meaning ‘to bathe or swim’.
This man-made rock pool was the first of its kind in New South Wales, hence its preservation. The site has been heritage listed as it’s one of the oldest ocean pools on the East Coast of Australia. It isn’t known whether there was a naturally occurring rock pool in it’s place prior to any works undertaken for Major James Morisset.
In 1863, the ownership of the baths was handed over to the Newcastle Borough Council which enlarged the existing swimming hole and opened it for public use. During this time, the baths were mostly used by men, though women were allowed to use them during set times.
In 1880, the Newcastle Council allowed both women and men to use the baths at the same time, providing that bathers were worn at all times.
By 1884, the swimming hole was further enlarged and deepened to it’s current size and a railing around the iron rail was installed. It’s believed that the current pool is now 7 times larger than seven times it’s original size.
There had been a number of structures built during the early years, including changing rooms and toilets that have since been removed.
The most recent addition has been the metal staircase, which was built over the existing stone stairway.
If you’re interested in knowing more about the history, there is a huge amount of information, as well as some historic photos on the Hunter Living Histories Website.
The Bogey Hole is listed on the NSW State Heritage Register in recognition of it’s significance in Newcastle and NSW’s history.
Staying safe while swimming
As beautiful and unique as it is to look at, the Bogey Hole has a reputation for being a dangerous place to swim with it claiming a number of lives over the years. There are a number of things you can do to ensure you can enjoy the rock pool, while also remaining safe.
- It is really important to swim when the conditions are at their safe.
- Low tide and low swell are ideal for avoiding dangerous waves. You are able to check the weather conditions prior to swimming on most popular weather apps. During times of heavy swells, the entire baths can be completely underwater.
- Don’t turn your back to the ocean and remain vigilant.
- While the waves may appear calm at times, it is not uncommon for rogue waves. These are strong enough to knock you over if you’re standing on slippery rocks. Swimmers have also been swept into the ocean from the rocks, so it’s important to remain vigilant while swimming.
- Do not dive in or jump from any rock ledges.
- People have been severely injured after jumping from rock ledges and diving into the pool. The most recent death in 2010 was a diving-related incident. The installation of the new stairway has helped eliminate access to some of the areas where most people use to dive from though diving from the pool’s edge is also discouraged due to submerged rocks.
Best time to visit
The Bogey Hole is open and accessible to the public all throughout the year and you’re able to visit at any time of the day or night.
During the winter months, there isn’t usually too many people willing to brave the cold temperatures to swim in the bath, so it can be quite beautiful to see it so peaceful and calm.
However, during the summertime, it is an incredibly popular spot and can be quite busy when the ocean conditions are safe for swimming.
While it is accessible at night, there isn’t any lighting, so it’s safest to both swim in and view during daylight hours. It is well worth visiting the Bogey Hole during sunrise or sunset for some spectacular views
There aren’t any toilets, changerooms, or showering facilities at the Bogey Hole. The closest toilets are near the King Edward Park rotunda, or Newcastle Beach, which has changerooms and shower facilities, as well as a kiosk. It’s a lengthy walk for either option.
It’s best to limit any belongings and only bring the necessary items. Due to the unpredictability of the waves, it can also be difficult to keep your belongings safe and dry.
Most locals recommend bringing items in a waterproof bag and tying it to the chain mesh along the stairs or stair railing to ensure any items remain safe and dry
Sitting beneath the cliff edge of Shepherds Hill, the Bogey Hole isn’t visible from the road, so it truly is a hidden gem and can be tricky to find for visitors to the city.
The only way to access it is by climbing down a steep set of stairs. The stairs can be quite slippery and dangerous, so visitors need to take care when walking down them.
Via King Edward Park
Sitting beneath the cliff edge, at the foot of Shepherds Hill, the Bogey Hole isn’t visible from the road, so it truly is a hidden gem and can be tricky to find for visitors to the city.
There are a number of ways you can access the Bogey Hole. If travelling by car, the best place to park is within the King Edward Park area, which has free parking
York Drive, The Terrace, or anywhere within that area is ideal. From there you can walk the remainder of the way down a paved road towards the stairs leading down to the pool, enjoying the stunning views of the pacific ocean along the way.
If walking from the top parking area of King Edward Park, there is a path down the cliff side of Shepherds Hill. This area was formerly known as “Sheep Pasturage Hill”. On your way down you’ll find a small lookout to stop at to take in the views.
Via Newcastle Beach
Another option is to park along Newcastle Beach and walk there along Shortland Esplanade, though you will need to pay for parking in this area.
Car spaces can be limited during the summer holiday period and weekends. It’s not uncommon to see Newcastle City Council’s parking officers getting about the city, so best to check any parking signs prior to leaving your car.
Parking in this area means you will have easy access to a change room and showering facilities upon your return to your car.
Bogey Hole photos
Rough seas at the Bogey Hole during our visit