How can it be we've never explored this end of the beach? We've walked past a thousand times, we've stopped on the grassy headland to climb trees, read or write more times than I can count. We've played in the boats that line the edge of the beach, and of course swum between the flags at least once a week over the years of living in the area. But never before had we explored the sea pool at the north end.
As I crossed the beach and started up the steps, I turned to my right and onto a green, lush pathway cut in just a couple of metres above the beach. Forced to bend under the branches of the bushes alongside, I marvel at the fact the grass is cut at my feet, the handrail strong and sturdy. I wonder how many people have travailed this path on this day, on any day. I shield my face from the droplets of water accumulated above me in the leaves, and pop out into a grass clearing on the headland. Looking across the bay, I see the beach and boardwalk, the sea pool at the south end at the surf club, and further along the rocky cliffs to the ladies baths and Wylie's pool. The ocean glistens blue and aquamarine, crystal clear and stretching as far as the eye can see. No less than three sea pools at the far end of Coogee, and this fourth yet unexplored by us. How spoiled we are.
I pass the original "Baths" monument and head down the stone steps, reaching for the handrail. My eyes are focused on the ground, expecting uneven steps and knowing the rain of the previous days could spell disaster to a person silly enough to rush. I navigate past a couple of tourists taking photos and raise my eyes.
I can't wait to get in, but I know enough of the ocean to take some time and get a feel for the tide and the swell. It's a cloudy day, the air temperature not high, probably the same as the water, certainly warm enough. As a wave crashes over the outer rocks, I step in with a shiver and feel around with my feet, relieved to find the bottom sandy and soft. I catch my breath as the cold forces me to exhale, then rally myself and dive under the water, eyes open and looking into this unknown space. When I surface, I reach down with my feet to find it deep beyond my reach, so swim across to the smooth rockface on the opposite wall. It's a pool that has been crafted, but still very open and feeling like an adventure, just what I so love about these Sydney beach pools.
There is not another person there in that moment, at the end of this busy beach. I swim a couple of laps and float for a while on my back, basking in this moment of solitude in this city we so love. How spoiled I am.