Splash-tastic fun at Willoughby Leisure Centre


It doesn’t matter if the weather is too hot, or too cold, or the kids have way too much energy to burn…a trip to an indoor swim centre is always an affordable, active option that gives the kids hours of screen-free fun. We sent NSM Discoverer Emma Bannouri to explore Willoughby Leisure Centre.


So I realised today that it’s less than 6 weeks till Christmas?!

Around June this year my husband and I agreed that it would be a great idea to take our kids out of daycare for the year the week before Christmas. This would give my eldest a break before starting kindy next year and my youngest will also be starting a new preschool.

About a week ago when I saw the Christmas trees popping up in Westfield and was having a particularly challenging day with the kids it dawned on me… what the heck am I going to do with them for SEVEN WEEKS?!

Thankfully, I now have a solution to this problem after Rachel (chief lady boss) asked me to review Willoughby Leisure Centre for NSM – this was my experience!

Birds eye view of the swimming pools

My 7 Day Trial Membership

I’m just going to dive right in – and who doesn’t love a pun?

On Monday morning with the kids in tow I drove down to Willoughby Leisure Centre to sign up for my 7 Day Trial Membership. After finding a park close to the entrance, we went inside where I met a membership coordinator and took a quick tour of the facilities. She was very helpful answering my questions and pointing out the family friendly facilities like family change rooms and the creche.

The kids and I then headed down to one of the clean and spacious family change rooms to get ready for a swim. The kids made a beeline straight to the heated toddler pool where they had a great time splashing around. *Warning* this was rookie mistake on my part as the lap pool is actually a couple of degrees colder than the toddler pool so I made mental note for next time.

After a play in the big pool we went to shower and change and I grabbed the kids a toasted sandwich from the cafe to eat overlooking the pool.

Eating lunch at the cafe overlooking the pool

My next visit was on Thursday morning for a Les Mills Body Pump class in the Sports Hall. The centre has a great little creche for 0-5 year olds which is open in the mornings from Monday to Saturday. The Play Club is free if you hold a regular membership or you can pay a casual rate like I did ($7.30 per child for 2 hours).

The book corner at The Play Club

After meeting the welcoming staff, the kids settled in quickly and I headed down to the Sports Hall for my class. They have lots of different group fitness classes for all levels including cycling, aqua fitness, zumba, pilates, cardio and boxing. After my class I went to pick up the kids who had a great time at Play Club showing off their drawings and farewelling their new friends.

The Sports Hall is used for group fitness and community sports programs

Our third visit for the week was on Friday, I dropped the kids into Play Club again having enjoyed their first visit so much and went for a workout in the gym. The gym is surrounded by floor to ceiling windows overlooking the park. It has a great selection of cardio and weights machines available to use and helpful instructors to help you get started.

After my workout I went and picked the kids up to get ready for another swim. We hired a locker this time right outside the change room for our gear, again the cost of these are included in a regular membership but we paid $3 for 3 hours of casual use. Having learnt from our previous mistake we made sure to go in the big pool first! There were no swimming lessons on in the slide pool today and my 5 year old had about 50 turns on the little slide.

Willoughby leisure centre swimming pool at peak time

After our swim today we wandered next door to The Incinerator for lunch and a play at Halstrom Park. Two very happy and tired kids today.

Now I had planned another visit for the Sunday morning Yoga class at 9am but it didn’t quite happen.

Maybe next week…

Stuff for the kids

  • There is a dedicated heated toddler pool for small kids and parents
  • They have swim school with intensive learn to swim programs during the school holidays
  • The creche is great for kids under 5 is great and free with most memberships
  • They offer a few kids fitness programs and have a kids club during school holidays
  • I haven’t witnessed it myself, but during school holidays and on weekends over summer there is a giant inflatable obstacle course which sounds amazing!
  • They also do birthday parties for 6-12 year olds which could be great option for parents of summer babies

Summer holiday fun on the giant inflatable obstacle course

Admission Prices

The centre has a range of options available including casual admission, multi visit passes and annual memberships for the health club, group exercise classes and pool.

A casual family visit to the pool (2 adults, 3 children) will cost you $18 (under 3s are free) and a Sunday morning Yoga class is $22.50.

They also offer a flexible membership which sounds like the perfect solution to my Christmas holiday dilemma. It’s $130 per month with no lock in contract and covers everything a regular membership does (including free creche and lockers). I would just have to buy a 10 or 20 visit pass for my 5 year old to swim (my 2 year old is free). I did some calculations and the cost for me visit attending a class, creche for 2 kids, swimming and hiring a locker would be $48.80 per visit on a casual rate. On a flexible membership if I attend 3 times a week with the kids my cost per visit would only be $16.80!

Customers who live within a 20km radius of the centre are also able to access a 7 Day Trial Pass just like I did to test out the facilities.

More info on memberships can be found here.

Happy kids after a fun session at Willoughby Leisure Centre

Sustainability

Now I know this doesn’t really relate to my experience using the facilities but I just wanted to take a moment to acknowledge the great work Willoughby Leisure Centre are doing to ensure they are creating a sustainable community facility and reducing their carbon footprint. Some of their initiatives include collecting and filtering rain water from their roof to top up the pools and installing solar panels for heating the pools, you can read more about their great work here.

Essential Details

  • Address: Small Street, Willoughby
  • Phone: (02) 9958 5799
  • Website
  • Public Transport: Regular buses depart from Chatswood Station Interchange (343 / M40 / 257) AND The Loop Shuttle Bus which is a free service run by Willoughby Council also runs from Chatswood on Wednesday & Friday. More Info.
  • Parking: The centre has 200+ car parking spaces
  • Opening Hours:
    • Monday to Friday 5:00am – 10:00pm
    • Saturday, Sunday and Public Holidays 7:00am – 7:00pm
    • Play Club Hours: Monday 8:30am – 12:30pm, Tuesday 8:30am – 1:00pm, Wednesday to Friday 8:30am – 12:30pm, Saturday 8:00am – 11:30am


For more ideas of things to do on and around the North Shore, browse our Out & About section.


Emma lives in Lane Cove with her husband and two daughters aged 2 and 5 years old. She and her daughters are constantly on a hunt for Sydney's best baby chino and love exploring art galleries and museums on their days together. Emma works part-time as a photographer, loves going for early morning walks and practices daily self care in the form of her (hot) cup of tea every morning.

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