I have spent most of my life in Melbourne. I love the city and occasionally have been known to support the friendly rivalry between Melbourne and Sydney quite expressively, so you can imagine my nervousness when I first found out that I might have to move to Sydney. I have visited NSW’s capital city on several occasions and seen “The Sights” – Sydney Opera House, Luna Park, the Sydney Harbour Bridge etc. Trust me, they are marvellous but I have never felt at home in Sydney. That is until the day I visited Coogee Beach.
photo credit: kagey_b
Locals call it “Sydney’s Seaside Village” with affection but to me it will remain the place that made me fall in love with the city. With historic ocean baths, crystal-clear water, plenty of green spaces to take your entire family for an old-fashioned barbecue and one of the best surf beaches in the area, Coogee has it all – sans Bondi’s glitz and posters which are not up my alley anyway.
The Most Amazing Things You Can Do at Coogee
Coogee to Bondi Walk
How often you go as far as 8 km south-east of the CBD to find yourself in a green-blue paradise?
Whether you are the walking type or not (I certainly am not), you will feel compelled to do the 6km coastal walk between Coogee and Bondi. I have read that an average pedestrian needs about three hours to complete the walk. That is, if you don’t make prolonged stops to marvel at the picturesque views, take pictures, give in to the temptation of swimming in any of the bays or just sit in one of the cafés and enjoy the landscape. When I first did the Coogee to Bondi walk, I was lost to the rest of the world the entire day. It was incredible!
Well, not all of you, my dear readers, will be allowed on Mclever’s Bath premises as it’s a ladies only zone.
Actually, it’s the last remaining Australian coastal pool which exclusively allows women and children to enter. Having read an article about it two years ago, I was more than interested to go and see it for myself. Established back in 1922, the safe haven for women of all walks of life has changed very little over the years. The entrance fee is merely symbolic and there is no commercial activity allowed there. The liberation you feel once you enter the domain of femininity will make you want to go back there again and again.
photo credit: brentbat
Other Coogee Beach Baths
While Mclever’s Bath sets restrictions based on gender, there are other establishments which greet all types of visitors. Wylie’s Baths for instance allows you to swim in safe (with barely-any-waves) waters and avoid getting sand all over you. Open 365 days of the year, this over-a-century-old venue is quite peculiar.
Knowing how crowded Coogee and Bondi get, I was expecting the same at Wylie’s too. Yet, I was in for surprise to find out that Wylie’s as well as the other unisex baths at Coogee Beach are actually less populated and just as fun to spend your day at. The amazing Pacific Ocean views are there, the calm water too… only the sand and the crowds are missing (in my book, this is always a plus). After all, one of my most dreaded chores is cleaning my hallway after a day at the beach.
Wedding Cake Island
When you hear the locals speak of Wedding Cake Island you might think that it’s some kind of tourist attraction…
…one of those inflatable thingies which kids love to jump from in the water. As it turns out, Wedding Cake Island is pretty much real and very important for Coogee. The odd-shaped piece of land protects the beach from most swells. Thus without it, Coogee wouldn’t have been such a wonderful family-friendly place. Called Wedding Cake Island because of its shape and the white water that covers it when the waves crash on the island. The white water looks like cake icing… you can figure out the rest.
So far, I have only managed to visit some of the baths – Mclever’s being my favourite spot, and I have done the Coogee to Bondi walk. But truth be told, I plan to return and have a weekend devoted to exploring the charming cafés with mesmerising views, the clear-water bays and who knows maybe finally get into surfing. Coogee Beach is a spectacular place. To me, it’s a miracle that it has retained most of its “village” charm even though it’s in such a close proximity to metropolitan Sydney.