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

1 comment:

Amanda Kane said...

Fascinating and enticing. Makes you want to go and plunge yourself in.