In hot, lazy summers of the Australian countryside, as the temperature creeps past the 30 degree mark, often the only signs of any activity can be found around town pools.
I am a regular user of the Bega pool in particular, and there are times over the summer season when it is just packed; lap swimmers doubling or tripling in the lanes on one side, the other half filled with people of all ages who are just enjoying cooling off. It is a welcome respite from the dry heat of the day, as well as being a social hub.
"Pools are the lifeblood of the community," Bega pool manager Philipzen says.
"You can use them from when you're one to when you're 85; swimming is a life skill you can use for your entire life. But it's not just for swimming. It's also a meeting place for the community."
"You can't tell me there's one person in their life who's never been to a pool," Zoe Philipzen adds. "They come to see their kids compete, [for rehab] because they've hurt their knee, or for a birthday party."
Bega Valley Shire Council's second-last public consultation over its pools was held in Bega on Monday night with the final one taking place at Candelo Hall on Wednesday, October 2 at 5.30pm.
Council is considering a special rate variation that could see rates increase on average by $146 a year in order to support the ongoing maintenance costs and ultimate renewal of six pools across the shire.
Considering how important pools are it is surprising to learn these council meetings have been relatively unattended, with only five people in Pambula and 11 in Eden, but 50 did make it to the one in Cobargo.
Also worth noting is that meetings are only being held in towns that have a council-run pool , while a potential SRV would affect every ratepayer in the shire.
There is no question pools are pricey assets to have. The shire's ones cost $1.382million per year to run, plus extra renewal costs. But they are still well-used: there were 32,664 visitations at Bega's pool over October-March, 2016-19.
Unfortunately the Candelo community's water-lovers will have to wait until at least mid-November to dive in as on Friday council announced the pool would be closed due to unexpected defects found in its shell.
Given the rest of the shire's pools opened on Monday as scheduled for the October school holidays, you'd have to wonder why it took council until only a few days before to announce this disappointing news.