‘Place of the pink sea shells’
My experience in the rock pool
I came here on a bright, sunny morning at the end of April. From the promenade that goes along the beach around the headland, the pool looked inviting in the way all pools do with blue sky and sun on them.
The only problem was that this was one week after the Big Storm that had hit Sydney (2015) and the big surf had thrown an enormous quantity of sand into the pool. This meant that in much of the pool the water barely reached up to my thigh, with a stretch of pool towards the ocean side allowing for a good lap swim.
With three of us in the pool at the same time, though, we needed to be wary of each other as we sought the deeper channels.
I’m told that the sand was about 50cm deep and that the shallow end should normally see water up to my stomach. The Council would be clearing the pool to return it to its usual glory, I was told.
Still, on a beautiful morning, with the water temperature slightly warmer than air temperature (21C water; 18C air), this was a delightful swim in the sunshine, and this large pool must be an absolute joy on a really hot day in summer.
Part of the issue with this pool is that it is raised up higher than the beach or rock platform. This means it remains clear of incoming waves for longer, but that also means the sand doesn’t get much of a chance to wash out (one of the reasons the guy I chatted with gave for preferring the other, smaller pool just to the north on the same rock platform)
Getting there, getting in, getting changed
Both Cronulla’s rock pools are on the same rock platform that sits between the North and South beaches. You can’t actually see them until you walk along the promenade under the cliff of the headland there. When I went by train, it was a simple five minute walk directly eastwards from the station; by car, I found a spot in Elouera Road, some ten minutes’ walk away.
There are stony steps and a metal ladder to climb in and out of this pool, though someone told me the Council is planning to instal a ramp to ease disabled access.
Towelling technique needed here. There is a tall shower point just on the rock platform about 20m to the south of the pool. It towers above you. This is the only facility here. If you need changing rooms and a toilet, you’ll have to go along to the Surf Life Saving Club on the south beach, some 500m away.
I was there around low tide, when the pool keeps its depth but sits up above the rock platform.
At high tide, I was told the water comes up to the steps down from the promenade and you need to leave your things at a higher level, but it is usually a short paddle across to the pool itself, which remains fine to swim in (though I haven’t yet experienced it myself at high tide)
Other practical points
This is a proper 8-lane Olympic size pool. (With the deep sand covering the floor of the pool during my visit, I can’t say whether there are lane markings still…)
History and stories of the pool
There’s a small plaque built into the rock face just under the footway (turn to the right when you come down the steps onto the rock platform). This tells of the original baths built here in 1941 (it’s amazing just how many of these pools were built during the respective world wars – is it a coincidence?)
The pool in its current form was built in the early 1990s.
Nobody I spoke to knows of any historical reason for there being two pools so close to each other. The supposition is that it comes from sheer level of demand for safe swimming spaces among visitors to Cronulla. But if someone local knows any different, I’d love to hear from you…
People I met here include:
George from Holland originally, though he’s been in Australia since 1970. He loves his swimming and has the good fortune to live in an apartment that looks directly over the Cronulla rock pools. His favourite is actually the one just to the north, but there was no access on the morning we met because of workmen on that part of the promenade.
Another gent whose name I didn’t get, but he’s the one who told me about the disabled ramp soon to come for this pool. His mobility is not so bad right now but he does use a walking frame and stick, so did well to climb down the steps on to the rock platform and then into the pool. It’s wonderful that he can look forward to years more of swimming if they get on with building that ramp…
What’s your story? Any memories of swimming here? Any stories to tell? Or did you just have swimming lessons in the cold of winter in the 1960s?
Whatever you have to say, however brief, I’d love to hear from you and will add any stories to this section of the site as and when I receive them. Add your comment or story under ‘Leave a Reply’ below.
Links to other articles on this pool
The local newspaper, the St George & Sutherland Leader discussed the future of the Cronulla Rock Pools in December 2013
The Swimming Sydney blogger came here in 2013.
The Lazy Swimmer blogger is few on words, but did a similar journey to mine in 2009.
Coffee, tea or milkshake after the swim?
Depending on whether you are heading back round the headland to the north or south, I have different suggestions for your cuppa after the swim in Cronulla.
Go back around to the south (ie continue back towards South Cronulla beach from this rockpool rather than heading towards the other rock pool) and our favourite coffee comes from
Open daily 6am – 5pm
Sit on one of the stools looking out towards the coast and you can not only watch people going by but also take in the ocean views and the Norfolk pines than line the coast. This coffee shop had only been open a few months when I first dropped by, but it’s a great addition to the thriving Cronulla coffee scene, and best-placed for the rock pool, in my view! The coffee is excellent, too, as are the various toasted banana breads (or mango and coconut bread, as I tried on my second visit). Friendly guys, too, and a nice story around the name of the coffee shop, which comes from the Italian for lifeguards (one of the owners being of Italian stock…)
If you go back round to the north (and walk past the other rock pool), the best place to go has to be
Ham (short for Harry & Mario)
Open Daily 7am – 6pm
This is a very popular place, with a constant queue while I was here, but you can see why. One of the best coffees I’ve ever drunk in Australia – roasted by an ex World Barista Champion Paul Bassett, I went for the Single Origin from Guatemala and was blown off my chair with the pleasure it brought me. You can choose all sorts of ways to prepare the coffee, too, though I usually go for the regular flat white. They also do loose leaf teas from Larsen Thomson. And fantastic-looking cakes on the counter.