Friday, 2 December 2016

Sally and Darelle's Swimming Adventures: Giles Baths, Coogee 1 December 2016

Coogee Beach in the background. 

The baths open to the sea at the southern side, and the western (facing the beach)

History (from Randwick City Council)

This is a natural rock pool, known as the "Bogey hole" which was used by male bathers in the nineteenth century.

The baths can be rough during strong surf conditions and Lifeguards are often kept busy with first aid for bumps, cuts and bruises. [nb and not so rough as you will see!]

The Giles Gym and baths was built in 1928 and under the management of Mr Oscar Giles, the health centre and hot baths became the progressive fitness venue of the time. They offered

electricity treatments, hydrotherapy and hot sea baths as medical treatments. One of the more bizarre treatments available was the sweat boxes. The boxes were heated by light bulbs on the inside and only had enough room for someone's head to stick out. The heat generated would aid in weight loss, allegedly [more like dehydration!]. 

Separate facilities were provided for both genders but the ocean pool and nude bathing was for men only.

Mr O.E. Giles proved remarkably successful with his weight-reducing massage course. Sportsmen, racing identities, criminals, the constabulary and well known politicians all mixed amiably at Giles baths. Sam Inglis was a well-known patron who regularly taught young boys to swim and box. In honour of his service a memorial sun dial was erected. 

In 1975 Messer's O'Neill, Motta and Stevens leased the premises until 1998. They redeveloped the building and added squash courts but retained the name Giles Baths. 

After 1998 the building was left in disrepair and in the interest of public safety the building was demolished in 2000. All that remains is the original portico entry and sections of the wall.

The steps down the cliff face remind me of North Curl Curl. Handrails and fences have recently been refurbished. There's not a lot of sitting or resting space. Fortunately it wasn't very busy during our visit. 

From the bottom of the steps looking northeast - magnificent Sydney sandstone. 

Getting in. The bottom step was very slippery, and being a bit balance-challenged can be a hazard. Beyond the step is a fairly wide rock platform, which makes it quite shallow from the cliffside out. 

and she's off! 

Of course, groups of boys always like jumping off rocks into water. 

While the sea wasn't particularly rough today, there were quite a few waves come into the pool, and you did have to watch out - easy to be buffetted towards the cliff. 

Randwick Council said lifeguards at the beach are kept busy treating cuts and bruises in high seas. Darelle didn't seek attention for her injury. NB The pool itself doesn't have a lifeguard - the nearest were at the beach.  

Entrance to the baths is through Dunningham Parkat the northern end of Coogee Beach. You can see the baths outlet where the rocks are just under the cliff.The entrance to the baths is the archway on the cliff above.

Coogee Beach from Dunningham Park

Dunningham Park seemed popular with mothers and babies' groups. We had coffee at an unpretentious cafe in the background (that's Darelle in pink headed there.)

Coogee Beach

Coogee Beach with the Pavilion in the background.
Wikipedia: The Coogee Aquarium and Swimming Baths were officially opened on 23 December 1887. The Palace included an indoor Swimming pool (25 x 10 meters), an aquarium featuring the tiger shark from the famous shark arm murder case, a Great Hall that could be used as a roller skating rink, Canadian toboggan ran down the hillside for over 70 meters, a herd of 14 donkeys to ride as well as swings, whirligig's rocking horses, toy boats, aviaries, flower beds, bandstand and an open-air bar.
In June 1945, a strong storm caused the large dome to collapse. In 1987 the Coogee Palace and Dome was re-built and converted to restaurants and bars, known both as The Beach Palace Hotel and The Aquarium. In August 2014 the building re-opened as the Coogee Pavilion, owned by prominent Sydney hospitality company, Merivale (director Justin Hemmes). 

Peaceful scene through the trees of Dunningham Park

The toilets are clean, smell fresh, have no soap, and are an eyesore plonked in the park. 


The entrance is what is left of the Giles Baths and Gym

In January 2003, a local claimed to have seen an apparition of the Virgin Mary at the fence overlooking Coogee Beach. Thousands lined up to witness it (see link below) There have been numerous claims of sightings since. The local parish priest said that while he felt it was good some people were finding peace there, he didn't believe it was anything other than an optical illusion. Some locals call it "Our Lady of the Fence Post" or "Rail Mary". A local man tends the shrine. 
The Catholic News, wherein local priest has his say.

The fathers, the sun and the holy post - Sydney Morning Herald report.

The water was so perfect

Marine life which may be seen in the baths

Looking north along that wonderful Sydney sandstone coastline, towards Clovelly.

Memorial to the victims of the 2002 Bali bombing. Several were residents in the local area, and six were members of a local Rugby football club, the Coogee Dolphins.  There's another memorial plaque inside the baths entrance gateway. 

A great spot for reading

Get your heads out of your devices and look up at the beauty before you, kids! 

These trees were in flower. I don't know what they are. Anyone? 

More links:

Removal of 30 tonne rock from pool November 2016

Dictionary of Sydney - Coogee

Dictionary of Sydney - Coogee Aquarium and Swimming Baths

Wikipedia on Coogee

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Darelle and Sally's Swimming Adventures: Camp Cove 21 November 2016

A swim at a very petite rock pool at Camp Cove in Sydney's eastern suburbs, and then a walk on the South Head Heritage Trail, part of Sydney Harbour National Park.

On our way to the beach - flowering gums

Darelle stops to contemplate the flowering gums

Camp Cove Beach from western end. At the far end is a kiosk. Smoothies, hot drinks, some sandwiches, fruit and snacks available. We had a coffee - it was hot, but very weak. 

Looking north and east. And the Navy set off in four ships - off for some exercises?

HMAS Adelaide III - an amphibious assault ship

This was the destination we had in mind - a 15 metre rock pool at Green Point, between Watsons Bay and Camp Cove - looking towards the city

Obligatory selfies. My waterproof camera has packed it in, so phone pics only...meaning nothing in the water. But, yes, we fully immersed and the water was lovely. 

Disappointed to see broken glass in the water in various places; we wore our thongs (flip-flops for some readers)

Our diligent research always includes "facilities". These were clean, plenty of paper, only one wash basin with cold water and no soap. No hook behind the door to hang your towel and bag. 

The reserve at Green (Laing) Point, looking northeast

This tells us that Captain Arthur Phillip and the First Fleet arrived at Camp Cove on 21 Jan 1788. The first ship had arrived in Botany Bay on 18 Jan, with the rest of the fleet joining them between 19&20 Jan. Conditions weren't very suitable for a settlement at Botany Bay, so Phillip and some others sailed north in 3 small ships to check out the coast further north. They came into Port Jackson and stopped off Camp Cove, found fresh water in a spring and spent the night here. 

After spending the night here, Phillip and co sailed down to what they called Sydney Cove, and to manly Cove, then back to Botany Bay. They arrived back at Sydney Cove on 26 January 1788, raised the British flag, and the rest is history. Here I am, and here are far fewer of the Indigenous inhabitants. 

The area around Camp Cove had been a popular fishing place for local Cadigal people. It was important t them as it was sheltered and there was fresh water. 

This road, alongside the naval station HMAS Watson leads on the loop trail around South Head. It was built in the 1870s.  It was built to carry supplies and ordnance from Camp Cove to various military installations on South Head.
HMAS Watson was a naval radar station established in WW2, in 1945 became a radar training school. Now it is an advanced anti-submarine, naval and warfare training centre. 

Someone enjoying a solitary dip

There are gun emplacements all around the headland. During WW2 there was a boom net placed right across the harbour from Georges Head in the north to Camp Cove in the south. It was meant to deter foreign ships. One Japanese midget sub got entangled in it. The submariner killed himself rather than be captured.

The cannon was placed here prior to 1890. It was designed to protect a military jetty and boatshed from the threat of invasion.

View to Camp Cove from the cannon

Beautiful harbour views all along the walk

The steps down to Lady Bay Beach, a "clothes optional" beach, declared as such by Premier Neville Wran in 1976.  You can wear swimsuits if you like, but most users don't. 

The mind boggles as to what group activities may be approved (or not approved)! Nude weddings and the like I suppose. 

Lady Bay (aka Lady Jane) Beach

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The Lighthouse Keeper's Cottage. Completed around 1860. The first keeper was a man named James Johnston, who was the sole survivor of a sailing ship called the Dunbar, which was wrecked off in heavy seas in 1857. 121 lives were lost. 

Looking north towards Manly

Hornby Lighthouse. Opened in 1858, originally powered by a kerosene lantern. It was built in response to the wreck of the Dunbar (see above), and the Catherine Adamson, near North Head two months later. It was automated in 1933 and now is powered by a 12 volt quartz halogen lamp. 

North Head from South Head

Gun emplacements like this have been built up and down the coast and around the shores of Sydney Harbour. The first was built in 1788 as a signalling station to announce the arrival of a ship.

In 1839, the undetected arrival of ships from the USA caused concern which triggered the building of fortifications at Bradleys Head, Fort Denison and here. France was an enemy, and then the Russians, These were built in 1853 and guns installed in 1872. In 1944 they were disarmed.

Camp Cove developed as a village containing fishermen's, pilots' and signallers' cottages. Some were Portuguese and American (including an African-American) who arrived by ship and decided to stay. Unauthorised boat arrivals!!!

Despite there being some very large modern houses (like those right along the beach, many of the cottages from the 1850s and on are preserved. And very, very expensive! We decided when our boats come in, we could stand living at Camp Cove! 

Looking towards Watsons Bay, Doyle's restaurant, the pub, the jetty and netted baths. Watsons Bay was called Kutti by the Cadigal people. 

Here's some info about the Heritage Trail which we followed. 

Dictionary of Sydney entry on Camp Cove, including early contact history.

Dictionary of Sydney entry on South Head