The Pool Blog

Daily Dip Updates

The Entrance, Terrigal, and Macmasters Pools – time and tide wait for no man

by Jan 8, 2022

Terrigal Pool

We are completely at the mercy of the tides and the weather on this trip. Our schedule of 59 pools in 26 days is punishing and there’s no room for turning back to swim in a pool that we could not enter at the appointed time. So Yamba Beach Pool – where I had longed to swim – we simply had to cross off the list because of the cyclone. And today, for a variety of reasons we only managed to swim in one out of the three pools on our list.

That pool was Macmasters Beach Pool – a lovely, small pool that stretched out from the shore about 20 metres with walls on three sides leaving a sloped shore entrance. It’s not a big pool, but it is perfectly located at the south end of Macmasters Beach and below a cliff face, with 5 majestic Norfolk Pines dotted along the top of the shortline. It’s a shallow pool that’s not really good for laps, but it’s perfect for friends and families to stand in up to their waists and talk and play under the sun. At a stretch, you could lap along the ocean-facing wall if you felt the need.

McMasters Pool

What’s nice about these natural and unobtrusive pools – Macmasters is a pool that blends in entirely with its surroundings – is that you get the opportunity to watch humans at play. This, down at the water in small communities, is how we have always been. Young and old all enticed to the water’s edge to forget who they are for a moment and instead be in the moment. Watching the two-year-old careen around the small rocks at bullet speed and yet hit nothing, reconnects us all to play – of which there is simply not enough.

We come to Macmasters after visiting The Entrance and Terrigal pools but failing to get in. I had been looking forward to The Entrance Ocean Baths – a combination of a 50-metre lane pool and a children’s pool but the larger pool was being cleaned and was effectively empty, like a barren lake beside the ocean. The pool is, like many entirely man-made ocean pools, dependent on a pump for cleaning. This time, on emptying the pool, the pump got clogged up with seaweed and didn’t fill at the appointed time at high tide. It requires a tide of 1.8 metres and that wasn’t expected now for another four days. Poor pool.

We sprinted onto the Terrigal Ocean Pool which I had heard was a high-tide pool. There aren’t many high-tide pools – as in a natural ocean pool (i.e., not pumped and entirely dependent on tides) as most pools are low-tide. The difference is that most pools are built to be at their best at low tide. They are filled and cleaned by high tide but swimming in them at high tide is like being in a washing machine. You want the tide to fill, clean and then recede so you can swim in the calm low tide. You could not even think about getting into Newcastle’s Bogey Hole at high tide. Some pools – and Terrigal is an example of this – only work at high tide, because they are shallow, built right at the top of the shoreline, and are only full when the tide is high. We arrive at the appointed time, but the swell still carries the remnants of the cyclonic swell and it’s too burly and hurly to get in.

Instead of swimming, we watch the swell smash into the crevice where the wall and the natural rock meet, forcing the water to spray like freed champagne into the air. I take photos of the aloe vera waterfalls coming down the cliff and think how lucky we are. And how time and tide wait for no man.