A NSW Government website

Places to Swim

About Places to Swim

The Places to Swim program supports the creation of great places for people to enjoy our rivers, lakes, dams and other inland waterways. We are working in partnership with all councils and eligible state agencies to improve access to water, allowing people to get in, on, or around water.

Places to Swim is more than just swimming, it is also about improving access for recreational engagement with waterways , such as kayaking and paddle boarding or walking and being around water.

Places to Swim is part of the Open Spaces Program, with a $16.7 million funding commitment to better connect people to water in places that need it most.

Places to Swim best-practice guide

The draft Places to Swim best-practice guide (PDF, 18.6 MB) provides important information on planning, designing, delivering and managing swim sites to get in, on and around water in NSW. The guide has been developed by the NSW Government in collaboration with many organisations and the Places to Swim advisory panel to encourage improved access to water for recreation across NSW.

The draft guide was publicly exhibited from 27 November 2023 till 12 March 2024. Thank you to everyone who took the time to review and comment. Your feedback will inform the final guide and help more communities get in, on and around water. The final report will be available later in 2024. 

Read the draft guide

Places to Swim Perspectives Report

In 2022, the NSW Government engaged Western Sydney University to prepare a report on accessing places to swim in Western Sydney.

The Places to Swim Perspectives Report (PDF, 3.8 MB) investigates the issues, barriers and benefits associated with opening waterways for recreation. The report includes Australian and international case studies that demonstrate a range of approaches to support and manage community recreation in, on, and around natural waterways.

Read the report

Penrith Beach

Discover Western Sydney’s new oasis. The NSW Government is making waves with an exciting investment to activate a temporary swim site, open to swim from late December 2023 to April 2024. This project demonstrates the objectives of the Places to Swim program, getting more people in, on and around water for recreation.

Find out more

Penrith Beach
Penrith Beach

Successful projects in 2022/23

Full list of successful projects

A total of $8,007,372 has been awarded across 11 projects in the 2022/23 grant program.

CouncilProject details
Ballina Shire CouncilTeven Reserve - Increasing access to Ballina Shire’s inland waterways along Maguire’s creek in Teven – $740,565
Federation CouncilApex Park and Lake Mulwala Pool upgrade project – $484,950
Hawkesbury City CouncilMacquarie Park enhancement project – $839,400
Lake Macquarie City CouncilToronto Baths – Accessibility and safety upgrades – $1,000,000
Liverpool City CouncilAngle Park – Improve foreshore access – $750,000
National Parks and Wildlife Services (Southern Region)Yarrangobilly Caves Thermal Pool Precinct Upgrade – $999,008
Northern Beaches CouncilManly Dam Memorial Shelter – $327,200
Orange City CouncilLake Canobolas – Activation and improvement works – $1,000,000
Parkes Shire CouncilLake Endeavour – Activation and improvement works – $1,000,000
Temora Shire CouncilLake Centenary – Installation of pedestrian bridge – $118,449
Tweed Shire CouncilJack Evans Boat Harbour – Connecting to water-based recreation – $748,000

Pilot project – Bayview Park Baths

As part of the 2021/22 funding allocation for Places to Swim, eligible councils and eligible NSW Government agencies and entities were invited to submit expressions of interest for pilot projects that would demonstrate the objectives and principles of the Places to Swim program.

The NSW Government invested $700,000 in the re-establishment of the baths at Bayview Park Baths in Concord to provide a new, safe riverside swimming spot for residents and visitors.

The City of Canada Bay, has been working to make the baths safe to swim in again, following their closure to the public in 1969 due to pollution. The NSW Government is proud to have partnered with the City of Canada Bay to help make this vision a reality for the community.

The funding has been used to install a swimming enclosure net, increased accessibility to the foreshore and an outdoor shower.

Girl on float at the beach at Bayview Baths. Credit: City of Canada Bay
Bayview Park Baths, City of Canada Bay Council

Successful 2021/22 grant projects

Full list of successful projects

Seven projects were successful in the 2021/22 grant program with a total value of $3.53 million.

CouncilProject details
City of ParramattaEnhancement of the Lake Parramatta swimming area – stage 1 – $905,000
Campbelltown City CouncilNepean River Reserve Improvements – $697,425
City of Ryde CouncilPutney Beach Swim Site Activation – $698,475
Hunter’s Hill CouncilBedlam Bay Beach Swim Site – $560,475
Inner West CouncilMackey Pack Canoe Club Launching Ramp $300,000
Northern Beaches CouncilRowland Reserve Accessible Amenities – $252,230
Willoughby City CouncilNorthridge Baths Landscape and Recreation Plan – $150,000

More information and how to apply

Who is eligible to apply?

Funding was made available to all NSW councils and eligible NSW Government agencies.

Eligible NSW Government agencies include those who own and manage the publicly accessible land on which the projects will be delivered. The delivered facilities must be freely and publicly accessible.

What can funding be used for?

Funding was made available for projects that are freely accessible to the community and including:

  • harbour, lakes, dams and riverfront precincts, including improvements for water-based recreation such as launching small non-powered watercraft (such as kayaks, canoe and paddle boards) and access to waterways for swimming
  • walking tracks/trails and infrastructure that directly connect to and support access to water for recreation (not including boat ramps, fishing infrastructure and motorised boating infrastructure)
  • water playspaces that offer a place to enjoy water-based recreation for those council areas that do not have direct access to lakes, rivers or the Harbour
  • amenities and facilities that directly support the recreational use of the waterways (change rooms, toilet facilities, picnic and BBQ facilities, foreshore works, netting, pontoons, signage).
Why are ocean pools not included?

We are very lucky in NSW to have access to some of the most beautiful coastlines and ocean pools in the world. The focus of Places to Swim is about better connecting people to natural bodies of water that are free to access, who may not have easy access to our great beaches and ocean pools.

Grant application guidelines

To find out more about Places to Swim grants, grant application guidelines and how to apply, download: