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Coogee


Coogee Beach, Sydney

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Sydney Australia

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Relax Coogee (meditation). Coogee Beach, Sydney, Australia

Coogee Pavilion


Coogee is a beachside suburb in south-eastern Sydney, in the state of New South Wales, Australia. Coogee is located 8 kilometres south-east of the Sydney central business district, is part of the local government area of the City of Randwick and is part of the Eastern Suburbs region.

Coogee sits on Coogee Bay, with the Tasman Sea in the east. Coogee Beach is a popular swimming and body-boarding beach in Sydney. The boundaries of Coogee are formed mainly by Clovelly Road, Carrington Road and Rainbow Street, with arbitrary lines drawn to join these thoroughfares to the coast in the north-east and south-east corners.

History

Aboriginal

Coogee is said to be taken from a local Aboriginal word koojah which means "smelly place", or "stinking seaweed", a reference to the smell of decaying kelp washed up on the beach. Although at certain times large quantities of seaweed are still washed up, it is usually removed before it gets a chance to stink. Coastal winds can carry the stench to surrounding suburbs and as far westwards as the University of New South Wales.

Early visitors to the area, from the 1820s onwards, were never able to confirm exactly what "Coogee" meant, or if it in fact related to Coogee Beach. Another name, "Bobroi", was also recalled as the indigenous name for the locality.

Some evidence suggests that the word "Coogee" may in fact be the original Aboriginal place name for the next bay to the north, now known as Gordon's Bay.

The Aboriginal population had largely relocated by the mid-19th century after being decimated by disease and violent clashes with early settlers, though some Aborigines still live in the area today.

European Settlement

Coogee was gazetted as a village in 1838, growing slowly until it was connected to the city by electric tram in 1902. The suburb's popularity as a seaside resort was then guaranteed and the Coogee Surf Life Saving Club was founded in 1907. Population growth began in earnest in the 1920s. An English-style seaside entertainment pier stood at the beach between 1928 and 1934, but it was demolished after serious damage by the surf.

One outstanding landmark is the mansion known as Maidstone, which stands in Waltham Street beside St Brigid's Church. It was built in the early 1890s and was occupied by a Mrs T.M. Alcock. The house features a metal cupola and cedar fittings inside. The Catholic Church bought the building in 1922 and it was restored to its original style by Provincial House of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart.

Shark Arm Murder Case (1935)

The Shark Arm Case refers to an incident at the Coogee Aquarium Baths in 1935, when a captured tiger shark regurgitated a human arm. The arm belonged to a missing person, James Smith, and was identified by a tattoo. The arm had been cut off, which led to a murder investigation. Nobody was ever charged over the murder, although another local criminal, Reginald Holmes, was found shot in a car near the Sydney Harbour Bridge the day before the inquest into Smith's death was due to start.

Alleged Marian apparition (2003)

In January, 2003 it was noticed that one of the fence rails on Dolphin Point, just north of Coogee Beach, when viewed from a particular angle and distance, resembled a veiled woman. A local laundrette was one of the first to draw attention to it, and set up a gallery of photos to attract visiting "pilgrims".

When the illusion was reported in newspapers many Christians (predominantly Roman Catholic) came daily to worship what they interpreted as an apparition of Mary, the mother of Jesus, although the Roman Catholic Church never officially recognised this alleged apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

No particular supernatural powers were attributed to the shadow (dubbed "Our Lady of the Fence Post" by the media, aka "Rail Mary") and interest waned within a few weeks. The section of fence that created the image was destroyed by vandals within days of it being publicised, although the local council had the fence replaced. While some continue to petition the Catholic Church and the New South Wales government to build a chapel, their claims were not seriously considered.

Today

Today Coogee is one of Australia's more densely populated areas, with apartment buildings in every style from the 1930s onwards. Some free-standing houses remain. The suburb is a popular destination for tourists, particularly backpackers.

On the northern headland stands the doorway of the old Giles gym and baths, the remainder of which has now been demolished. This area is now known as "Dolphin Point". The doorway and a four-metre high bronze sculpture serve as a memorial to twenty of the Australian victims of the 2002 Bali bombing who were residents of Coogee and its neighbouring suburbs, including six members of the Coogee Dolphins rugby league team.

Transport

Sydney's steam tramways first reached Coogee in 1883 and were electrified in 1902. The trams were replaced by buses from time to time in the 1940s and 1950s as the infrastructure suffered severe neglect during and after WWII. The tracks were deemed too expensive to repair and the power supply was so inadequate that trams would grind to a halt in incovenient locations. Eventually the entire Sydney tram network was scrapped and replaced by buses. The last trams ran to Coogee in 1960.

The suburb is now well served by buses, with routes to the Sydney CBD via Randwick, and also to Bondi Junction, Eastgardens via Kingsford and Maroubra and Leichhardt via Glebe and Newtown.

Geography and Landmarks

Coogee Beach is relatively protected through its formation as a bay. The surrounding coastline is mostly cliffs, decreasing in height down to the beach in the western part of the bay. The bay is sheltered from the roughest seas by Wedding Cake Island, a rocky reef about 800m off the southern headland. There is an annual swimming event around the island each November - contact.

The beach itself drops off rapidly at the edge of the water, which can result in a dangerous shore break particularly when the surf is large. The combination of this shore break and high visitor numbers mean that Coogee has more spinal injuries than any other Australian beach.

In larger surf, there are often rip currents at both the northern end and at the southern ends, and also quite frequently in the centre of the beach. These are simply the places where the incoming water escapes most naturally. It is claimed by some locals that the rip in the centre of the beach is partly caused by the remaining foundations of the old entertainment pier.

At the northern end of the beach are stairs leading from Dolphin Point down to the old Giles baths. This is now an open rock pool carved out of the surrounding rocks. A short walk further to the north is Gordons Bay, which is a popular location for snorkeling. At the southern end is the Ross Jones Memorial Pool just below the Coogee Surf Life Saving Club. Also at the southern end are two small reefs the inner and the outer. Further south is a coastal walk that goes past the women's baths and Wylies baths.

Festivals and Events

* The Island Challenge, held in the last weekend in November by the Coogee Surf Life Saving Club involves a 2.4 km swim out and around Wedding Cake Island (off Coogee Beach). The race began in 2000, attracts hundreds of competitors, and is a prominent fixture on the Sydney ocean swimming scene.

* The Coogee Arts Festival in February is a series of open air events held in the parklands above the Southern side of Coogee Beach. It features theatre performances and a small film festival.

* Family Fun Day is the first Saturday of every December held by the Coogee Chamber of Commerce features amusement rides and stalls next to the beach.

* Coogee Carols are held on the weekend prior to Christmas at Goldstein Reserve, opposite Coogee Beach. The event has been staged annually since 2002.

* Putu Mayam Day is the first of its kind outside of Malaysia. On the first of every month you can indulge in the world famous Putu Mayam (rice noodles accompanied by shaved coconut and brown sugar) on the coastal edge of Coogee Beach.

Politics

Coogee is part of the City of Randwick, forming the East Ward together with Clovelly. It lies in the Federal electorate of Kingsford Smith (which covers all of south-east Sydney), and the State electorate of Coogee (which also includes the suburbs of Randwick, Waverley, Clovelly, Bronte, and Bondi Junction). Coogee is currently represented by members of the Australian Labor Party at both the Federal and State levels. (Credit: Wikipedia).