Memories of sunny afternoons spent sunbaking and bathing at the iconic Metung Hot Pools run deep for East Gippsland locals and visitors to the area.
With plans in full swing to bring the Metung Hot Springs project to life, what better time to look into the history of the pools and why they are no longer.
Located on the northern side of Metung, the pools were fed by a bore that was drilled by the Point Addis Company back in 1929/30.
John D Adams makes note of the pools in the Tambo Shire Centenary History published in 1981 – “One of the more recent attractions of Metung are the hot water springs bubbling up from the bores sunk by Point Addis Co. in the 1920’s and now channeled into three cemented pools. These were built in 1976 with fencing, carpark and toilets with a grant of $3,200. The pools were first developed in 1960 as a paddling pool for children.”
There are many fascinating stories about the pools, but none more so than that of a local doctor by the name of Atkinson-Wood, who used to pipe the gas from the pools to his home in Metung.
According to a newspaper article printed in ‘The News’ in September 1990- “A mixture of water and gas rising to the surface supplies the warm pools. The presence of the gas can be seen if a match is placed near the outlet”.
The article goes on to talk about Dr Atkinson-Wood having his own hot pool in his garden and running the water through a gasometer, extracting the gas and piping it to his house where he used it for cooking and heating. He would compress the gas and used it to run his car as well as using it to operate a motor to generate his own power.
In 1996, the hot pools as everyone knew them were closed to the public.
The question many people have asked is if the pools were so popular, then why were they closed?
According to a report by Fletcher Meredith – Thematic Environmental History / Utilising Natural Resources – “the pools were defined as a public swimming pool, which under the health regulations, required disinfection normally with chlorination. Under EPA regulations, prior to the water being discharged to the lake, chemical de-chlorination was required.”
Concerns were raised that the use of chlorine would detract from the existing attraction of the pools, which were supplied by a natural artesian water supply system.
Another issue was the discharge of chlorinated water from the pools to the adjacent wetlands or directly into Chinaman’s Creek.
There were issues with vandalism and security and as the hot pools were a free public activity, the increased cost involved with having to chlorinate the water and then treat the waste water before it could be distributed back into the natural environment proved all too challenging and the pools were closed.
With development of the Metung Hot Springs getting closer to commencement, there are bound to be many locals with fantastic stories to share. People are encouraged to visit the Metung Hot Springs Facebook page and share their memories and photographs.
Visitor, Debbi Douglas, contributed to the page “I remember going here in January 1981 on my honeymoon. The hot springs back then were a concreted round pool in the bush with amazing hot water bubbling out of the ground. We found it by accident driving north of Lakes Entrance. It was amazing to discover it and it’s amazing that it’s coming back to life”.
Michelle Sandison recalled visiting from Sale “I used to drive there with my friends in the late 70s and early 80s. We loved it.”
Local tourism operators Adrian and Rachel Bromage have joined forces with the award-winning Peninsula Hot Springs Group to bring back hot springs bathing to Metung in East Gippsland.Growing up visiting the original Metung springs as children, Rachel along with her husband Adrian have been passionate about reigniting the hot springs experience in their hometown for over 20 years.
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