Lonely Planet Writer

Plans for Melbourne's Yarra River to host a floating swimming pool

The Yarra River’s famously murky waters could be the location for a new local swimming pool.

The Yarra River could host a new swimming pool by having a floating pontoon
The Yarra River could host a new swimming pool by having a floating pontoon Image by crazy-croco / CC BY 2.0

The AU$6 million development proposal is being planned by Yarra Swim Co as part of Australia’s entry into the 15th Venice Architectural Biennale. It will involve constructing a 25-metre pool on a floating pontoon. A play pool for children is also envisaged in the blueprint which will be anchored on the river near Melbourne’s Enterprise Park.

The not for profit Yarra Swim Co is committed to providing a Yarra River that is swimmable. It believes that the introduction of the pools would improve the culture in Melbourne’s Southbank area. The president of Yarra Swim Co Matt Stewart claimed the river has enormous potential. He believes that they can create a space where residents could swim and “hang out.” The company which designed the current Thames Baths proposal in London – Studio Octopi – will also work on Yarra Pools, which will have “urban lidos” along the lines of those in Copenhagen and Zurich. According to Broadsheet.com, there will be an exclusive filtration system used in the Melbourne pools which involves the dredging of the current salt wedge. This process will purify the river water and make it hygienic for swimmers.

Andrew Kelly, the Yarra River keeper, stresses that although it is illegal to swim in the river because of boat traffic, the quality of water is safe most of the time. After a major rainfall is the only time that it is questionable, he said. The city’s Lord Mayor, Robert Doyle, told a press conference he is receptive to the idea. He described the proposal as “intriguing” and could see how it would be “an amazing attraction. It could be a wonderful addition to our city.” The Yarra Swim Co plans to create a trial pop-up, called the Yarra Splash Project by next year if funding and approval are granted.