A slice of heaven for only 20 cents!
If you read my Facebook page you may notice that I check into the Women’s Pool in Coogee around 2-3 times a week, more in the warmer months. This, I beleive is one of Sydney’s well kept secret. When I take friends there for the first time, you can see their awe that such a place still exists.
It only costs 20 cents to get into McIver’s Baths, a lovely sea pool nestled in a protected curve of the coast at Coogee. There’s no turnstiles or reception desk at this peaceful place so making a contribution relies on honesty and trust.
Reserved for women and children only, no men are allowed at this pool. This custom goes back to the early nineteenth century when the pool was thought to have been a traditional bathing place for Aboriginal women.
From the late 1820s white women also bathed there, and since the 1860s it has remained a women-only bathing area. A few times in its history, organisations and individuals have applied to have the baths open to men but each time they were unsuccessful. A key objector to Randwick Council’s 1946 proposal was the Mother Superior of the Brigidine Convent at Randwick. She said the nuns at her convent, any country nuns vacationing there and the 100 boarders at the Brigidine school would not be able to visit the baths if they were opened for mixed bathing.
When ever I tell my flatmate that I have been to the Pool, he moans about it being unfair that Men are not allowed and says that this is discrimation. I can’t argue with that but still very happy that there is one place that as a woman, I don’t have to feel that I am on show when in a bathing suit. It does not matter if I’m in good shape or have visited the beautician that month. I come with all of me and feel totally loved and accepted by the pool.
Today the pool attracts all types of women but is particularly popular with Muslim women, Pacific Islanders, older women, mothers with babies and young children and lesbians. The mornings are for the serious bathers starting at 5am. When I get there at 5.45, their chatter fills the air as they brag about who was first to arrive that day. Last week, the pool was so dark even at 6am, that I bumpt into my fellow bathers serveral times.
My people are from Rivers States in Nigeria. We are also called the Water People, because the Rivers and Canals of the area plays an important part in our lives. The women fish on the water, carrying their babies wrapped around their bodies. It is said that that the Izon child( our tribal name), learns to swim before he learns to walk.
The love of water and the Ocean still stays with me. When I am warn out and wary, it sooths me, when I have no more energy to continue, it seems to restore my strength. The fact that salt water cleans our Etheric body may not be a surprise to most people, even without being conscious of it, we somehow know being in or close to the ocean, makes us feel better.
I like to think that maybe the spirits of the Aboriginal women who first discovered this bathing sight still watches over us, weaving their magic into our lives.