Coogee Beach, Sydney
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Coogee (meditation). Coogee Beach, Sydney, Australia
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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
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.
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)
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)
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
* 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
* Coogee Carols are held on the weekend prior
to Christmas at Goldstein Reserve, opposite Coogee
Beach. The event has been staged annually since
* 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.
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: