The Pool Blog

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Whale and Palm Beach Pools – the more you look, the more you see

by Jan 10, 2022

Whale Beach Pool is a beautiful space. It’s not large, you can’t really do laps, it’s a cement pool but despite all of that it stands out like a sparkling jewel on our pool-dotted coast.

Firstly, the location is excellent. We can park nearby and the pool, while at the south end of the beach has the cliff to the west side, instead of on the south side like most beach pools, so it feels entirely open to the world. Secondly, it has been very sympathetically cared for and the experience is exceedingly harmonious. Although the pool is small, it’s setting means there is a lot to do and see. I pop my head over the south-facing wall and there is a woman bathing in a small natural pool just below. She allows herself to be washed around by the waves. What you should pay particular attention to are how uneven sandstone bricks have been carefully cemented in to strengthen the sandstone cliff. These have been done so well it is a tromp l’oeil – you scarcely notice the intervention by human hand.

That’s what’s so good about this pool. It’s made from concrete – although by the geography I suspect there was always a natural pool there – but the concrete pours around the natural rock formations, incorporating them into the pool. In some places, it is hard to know where man and nature’s work ends and begins. This is, I think, the true definition of harmony where man’s work builds on and improves the work of nature. A reminder, perhaps, of how there is no such thing as man-made; we are of nature and so everything we do can and should fit with nature.

The gentle walkway into the pool illustrates this. Looking at it, we have to confer as to whether the slabs are natural or not (see the below images). The slabs look to be so regularly laid out in an overlapping bond pattern of bricks that at first, we think they were hand laid. But then I see similar slabs closer to the waves and think that perhaps these have been created by nature. Did we create the bond pattern, or did we discover it? There is a theory that all knowledge effectively already exists, and all we do is uncover it. You can ponder this while looking at the slabs at Whale Beach.

We have got braver at each beach. This time I take our recorder down to capture the sounds. I am a scientist, capturing the sounds, sights, and my thoughts as I walk across the rocks. If I knew how to capture the smell I would. I probably look a bit odd, walking around with my hand-held recording machine, trying to get closer to the waves, and then backing up to the cliffs to capture the cicadas. But the first rule of creativity is observation and when you look, there is always so much to see.

We come to Whale Beach after a swim at Palm Beach Pool which is a good 50-metre pool where I knock out a kilometre. I feel slightly embarrassed that after 20 years in Sydney this is the first time I have visited the pools of the northern beaches. They are worth the visit.

Photos & Video