Towels draped over the shoulders of young and old as they wander down to the baths – it’s a sight Belmont and District Residents’ Action Group president, Robin Gordon, thought she may never see again.
An $850,000 revamp of the beloved swimming spot, damaged beyond repair in the April 2015 Superstorm, was officially completed just before Christmas.
Mrs Gordon said the community group was thrilled with the result after more than a decade of campaigning to restore the facility to its pre-1980s heyday.
The baths were originally built in the 1940s, but had been brought down almost 40 years later.
“My heart is jumping for joy with what I see from about 5.30am every morning until dark,” Mrs Gordon said.
“Those baths are well and truly inhabited – there’s usually older people doing laps first, and then the kids and their parents come along.
“We were told they weren’t needed, but actions speak louder than words.
“[The baths] brought Belmont alive in that part of the world and I could never have dreamt that so many people would be there [again].
“I’m over the moon.”
Mrs Gordon paid special tribute to Belmont resident Glyn Matthews, who kick-started the campaign to restore the baths.
“The Belmont community has fought for the baths for a long time,” she said.
“Glyn Matthews had a group and he pushed all that time ago; every time you thought you were past the finishing post, all the petitions, and we formed the BADRAG – we got there in the end.”
The new baths feature a 70-metre long jetty and netting around all four sides.
Lake Macquarie council stated the next stage of work, due to begin early this year, would include the construction of a new amenities block with accessible change room, aquatic wheelchair storage, and foreshore landscaping.
This stage is jointly funded by the council and the state government.
In another timely move, Redhead’s popular beach kiosk reopened to the public late last month after a $470,000 makeover.
The kiosk was damaged when a fire tore through it in May 2017.
Its owners, Cargo Espresso’s Murray and Maree Ruse, had operated out of a temporary shipping container on-site since the kiosk’s closure.
Mr Ruse said they were delighted to reopen the facility.
“We have been overwhelmed by the support we have received from the Redhead community since we started operating, and we hope they will continue to support us,” he said.