We finished our pilgrimage of pools with the two pools the furthest down the coast – the famous Blue Pool in Bermagui and Aslings Beach Pool in Eden.
Secretly, my hopes were high for Eden. We had travelled a long way for our last pool. While the pilgrimage has been rewarding, every journey wearies the traveller. I wanted one more transcendent moment, a beautiful day, and a final dip in clear, crystal waters.
The day was overcast and rainy. You approach the pool across the beach and at first, you can’t quite see what is wrong. The setting is so magnificent it distracts you. An enormous rock cliff boulder towers over the pool, as though another being had set it there to remind us how small we are. But on approach, we see the pool has been overpowered by sand and only a small part of it is swimmable.
Disappointment is the gap between expectation and reality. The response is either to keep your expectations low or stay in reality, absolutely moored in the moment. Last night, I read the obituary of the Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh. The writer shared how the monk had dreamed of marketing a watch where each number was ‘now’.
Fortified by my reading, we stay with reality and when we enter the moment our last pool is everything it was always going to be. There’s a little swimming cave in the underhang of the boulder to explore, three young girls play and when we talk about the sand levels one of them tells me that it has been like that since they arrived. How long have they been here, I enquire? About 30 minutes.
We have come to Eden from Bermagui with its famous Blue Pool. The contrast between the two could not be deeper. The Blue Pool has excellent infrastructure with solid stairs leading down to its magnificence. It is a large natural pool that has been very sympathetically enlarged to be a veritable lake of beauty. It has the deepest waters of any pool we have swum in. The shower, near the bottom of the stairs, is the best rock pool shower you will ever see. Its concrete floor is shaped for natural drainage, and it suspends you over the rocks, so you cleanse yourself while looking out across the Tasman Sea and beyond to the Southern Ocean. Some seals hang at the bottom, sheltering in a small cove. This pool is much loved and cared for.
In Eden, there’s a local group that has been working to raise funds to save the pool. According to reports, the council feels unable to give the financial support needed and funds will need to be raised from other sources. I hope they are successful.
And that’s the point I want to leave you on. New South Wales has the largest collection of coastal rock pools in the world. They are expensive to maintain, and I doubt we will build any more – certainly not the kind of pools that use the natural landscape as an intrinsic part of the pool. These pools were built at a different time, by a different person. They are an old art, a dying breed and if we don’t maintain them, they will slip back into the sea or be swallowed by sand monsters.
The best of these pools is a fusion of man and nature. They illustrate a vision of how human intervention enhance a natural occurrence. These pools have been molded for our pleasure but continue to please the sea. There’s much to learn from these installations that sit at the intersection of sea and land on how to work with nature, not against it.