Bedlam Bay

Swim site

Bedlam Bay could become another swim site along the Parramatta River by 2025.

A new era of river swimming at Bedlam Bay

Bedlam Bay in the Parramatta River Regional Park lies within the traditional country of the Wallumedegal or Wallumattagal clan. During 1866, a bathing place at the small beach at the eastern end of the park was created for Gladesville Hospital patients. Known as the ‘bathing beach’, it included boardwalks, dressing sheds and timber pylons to support a shark net. The baths were demolished when the pool was built above the oval in 1956.

Plans to reinstate the swimming baths have commenced. The project aims to increase public access to Parramatta River Regional Park and provide recreational opportunities for the local community. Bedlam Bay is a popular location that attracts many local residents with activities such as walking, boating, and weekend sports. Activating this site for swimming will provide a valuable community asset in this part of the Hunters Hill municipality.

Find out more below. This page will be updated as the project progresses.

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Hunter’s Hill Council is an active member of the Parramatta River Catchment Group (PRCG), an alliance of councils, state government agencies and community groups that are together working on the ‘Our Living River’ mission to make the Parramatta River swimmable again by 2025.

In 2018, the PRCG launched a ten-step Masterplan for the Parramatta River. The Bedlam Bay project aligns with Step 3 of the Masterplan to establish new swimming sites in the river. To determine if a site is suitable, the PRCG developed a Swim Site Activation Framework that evaluates the site’s feasibility, vulnerability and desirability. The PRCG also surveyed more than 1500 residents across the Parramatta River catchment, which identified the community’s desire to swim in the river.

There are already four natural swimming sites in the Parramatta River catchment: Cabarita Park beach, Chiswick Baths, and Dawn Fraser Baths (monitored by Beachwatch) and Lake Parramatta (monitored by City of Parramatta). Other sites planned for activation include Bayview Park, McIlwaine Park and Putney Park.

Bedlam Bay is one of 12 potential swimming sites along the Parramatta River that have been under investigation for future swimming as part of the Parramatta River Masterplan.

Initial feedback from the PRCG and Sydney Water is that the proposed Bedlam Bay swim site would be an ideal location for activation, and both organisations have provided written and verbal support for the project.

Hunter’s Hill Council manages the majority of the Parramatta River Regional Park, which is leased from National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS). Following a review of the project submission, the NPWS has indicated their support for the project.

Water quality monitoring and sediment testing

A critical part of activating Bedlam Bay as a potential swim site involves intensive water quality monitoring and sediment testing by Sydney Water through the Riverwatch Monitoring Program.

Results from microbial monitoring conducted at Bedlam Bay from October 2020 indicate that the site meets the National Health & Medical Research Council (NHMRC) guidelines for swimming during dry weather, most of the time. Further intensive monitoring was undertaken during the March 2021 rainfall event to improve our understanding of wet weather impacts and recovery times after significant rainfall. Microbial source tracking was also conducted for samples that exceeded the NHMRC guidelines for swimming.

Sediment (and suspended sediment in the water column) is also tested because of the river’s historical contamination due to previous industrial activities. This testing will determine what type of activation is possible.

Sample collection and assessment against the Human Health Risk Assessments (HHRA) framework at Bedlam Bay is expected to be completed by early 2022.

Additional improvements to the site

Other changes planned for the proposed Bedlam Bay swim site include the upgrade of the existing toilet block and installation of new pylons and shark netting, for which Council is currently seeking funding.

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Hunter’s Hill Council

22 Alexandra Street, Hunters Hill NSW 2110
PO Box 21, Hunters Hill NSW 2110
Tel: (02) 9879 9400

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