Named after the Scotsman who first settled here in 1855, though nobody seems to know where in Scotland he came from…
My experience in the pool
It was a cloudy day in midweek just after the sweltering hot holiday weekend in October, which might explain why the place was deserted apart from the handful of surfers who, I quickly realised, would glide past the pool on a wave and then walk back along the coast path and past the pool again before stepping across the rocks to rejoin their surfing buddies out to sea.
In fact, I was just thinking that all surfers round here look the same, when I noticed that the same cheery guy was going round the pool a few times, as he caught successive waves and then went back along the path to get a better position to catch another wave. I guess this is what happens when a rock pool is so snugly tucked in on the end of a very curvy, crescent-shaped bay.
This is a bit of a mini rock pool, though, so don’t go expecting an Olympic workout here.
It was thanks to the friendly barista in the Barefoot Café who told me she had swum 35 laps before work that morning, that I actually knew to wade across to the ocean wall side of the pool.
Until you get really quite close to the wall, the Macmasters Beach rock pool is really like a kiddies’ paddling pool (well, knee deep at best). But in 2002 apparently they carved out a deeper trench so that people like me and the local barista can do a few laps.
It’s only about 17m long, but it’s a lovely spot, and a real pleasure both to watch the surf piling in behind the safety of the wall, and to see those surfers on their repeated round trips.
No sign of bluebottles and the water seemed both clear and clean. A real pleasure. All that was missing was blue sky.
Getting there, getting in, getting changed
Macmasters Beach is at the southern end of the beautiful crescent bay, with Copacabana to the north. There’s good parking by the surf beach and then it’s a short walk to the pool. Not so easy on public transport: there are about six buses a day from Gosford, a little way down the NSW Central Coast, but they take about 90 minutes!
Paddle in from the coast side. It’s a soft sandy floor and a gentle slope down towards the outer wall. If you’re not steady on your feet, it’s not that easy to get here from the coast path – just one set of steps and then a bit of a clamber over some low rocks to reach the pool edge.
There’s one cold shower between the rock pool and the café, but no changing area, so as it was quiet, I slipped behind the barbecue stand and changed there. On busy days, you may have to perfect your towelling techniques or walk the 200m back to the toilets (and showers) behind the beach where the flags are up (that’s the toilets with the nice surfing murals).
Other practical points
Tidal differences: Low tide is good if you like a nice, calm swim. I was there with an incoming tide but still three hours off high and the waves were just starting to splash over the side. I haven’t seen the pool at high tide but I imagine you get quite a bit of washover from the incoming waves.
There’s nowhere really to store your things as you swim, so I left mine on a rock by the pool. But at high tide, I guess you’d need to leave them on the stairs themselves or even on the pathway above the pool.
History and stories of the pool
Built in the 1960s so a relative newcomer to the east coast of NSW. It was initially made for kids to learn to swim in safety, but the channel nearest the far wall was made deeper a dozen or so years ago so that lap swimmers could also have a go in here.
What’s your story? Any memories of swimming here? Any stories to tell? Or did you just have swimming lessons in the cold of winters past?
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
Sydney swimming blogger Mrs G Spot was here in 2013.
Only brief from this family from Wisconsin, but I’m envious of the dolphins they got to see
Coffee, tea or milkshake after the swim?
You’re not going to beat the café right on the beach about 100m from the rock pool:
Barefoot Café, About 100m north of the rock pool right on the path above the beach
Open 8.00am daily except Mondays. Closes around 3.30pm – a bit later in summer.
A great spot to sit and watch the waves roll in on Macmasters Beach. And you can even keep an eye on friends having their swim down in the rock pool. There are lots of tables out the front, with more seating inside in case you prefer shelter from the elements. The coffee was good – made by Caffe Moda down in Liverpool. This place specialises in lunches and light meals, but I was pleased to find my favourite pistachio biscotti (though I don’t like the word ‘biscotti’ for them because they are much softer inside than that word implies to me).