The Pool Blog

Daily Dip Updates

A coogee of pools – part 2

by Jan 18, 2022

We continue our tour of the Coogee pools today with Wylie’s Baths and the Ivor Rowe Rockpool. We cannot get in at Ivor Rowe even at low tide because of the continued post-tsunami turbulence. Ivor Rowe is a teardrop pool scooped out of a rock platform south of Coogee beach. These pools initially start as tiny pools created by water erosion. But to get as big as Ivor Rowe takes some time and effort. As the pool gets bigger, rocks get trapped in it and the sea bashes them inside the rock pool pulling more of the rock away. In the case of Ivor Rowe, this rock pool has also been enlarged by human hand – this is important because we are only looking at pools where there has been some human intervention.

As we can’t get into Ivor Rowe, we turn back to visit Wylie’s Baths. The late afternoon rain has started and there are only a few stalwarts at the pool. I have spent more hours at Wylie’s Baths than I have at any other pool along the coast. Going to Wylie’s is an experience that continues to give every time you come. You can lap the 50-yard pool if you want, or float across the water looking for starfish or an elusive octopus on the ocean floor. You can brazen it out on the concrete sunbaking floor or take shelter from the sun under the elevated timber deck. You can sit at a table on the deck under a marquee and tap away on your laptop, then order a coffee and sandwiches from the café. (My recommendation would be the breakfast plate of salmon, sliced tomatoes, avocado, and a boiled egg). If you have thought ahead, you may have booked a massage, or just turned up with your yoga mat to do some stretches on the deck. There is no end of delights at Wylie’s and it is well worth the $5.50 entry fee.

We are tired when we arrive after our booster shot the day prior. I float on the water and look at the sea life. When we finish, we go to the elevated deck and order a hot chocolate. The rain comes down even harder, but we are dry under the marquee.

From my vantage point, I spy the bronze statues of Mina Wylie that stand guard over the pool. Her father, Henry Wylie, built the pool in 1907, and Mina and Fanny Durack both learned to swim in it. They were the silver and gold medallists respectively at the 1912 Olympics for the 100m freestyle – the first time that women competed at the event.

The statue of Mina is modelled on a photo of her from the Olympics. It is a feminist portrayal of a mermaid, she is powerful and strong, her shoulders broad. I always think about Henry Wylie when I am here and his labour of love for his daughter.