Friday, April 9, 2010

Another (Short) Leg Of The Swimming Trek

I've been slow to continue on my trek of ocean pools and tidal baths (the reason for this blog in the first place). Part of the reason why is that the remaining pools are all north of the harbour, and I live on the south side. It's a bit more difficult for me to get up there, especially to the Northern Beaches and Pittwater.

Still, today the rain stayed away, so I thought I'd better make a start. Today's pools were all easily accessed by public transport and walking. It was a great day to take ferries across the harbour.

Coincidently, last month marked a quarter of a century of living in Sydney for me, and I haven't been to any of these pools since my first twelve months here.

McCallum Pool (Cremorne)

I remember walking some of the Sydney Harbour foreshore track during my first winter in Sydney. I thought this tidal pool looked amazing but I didn't have any swimwear with me, so I couldn't swim. I made a mental note to come back here, but it's taken me 25 years to do so.

There's a great view of the city from here, with the opera house and the harbour bridge taking pride of place (not that clear on this photo from my cheap camera).

It's a lovely shady spot under the gum trees. Or a sunny spot on the wooden decking.

Clifton Gardens (Chowder Bay)

I remember coming here during my first summer proper in Sydney. I loved the walks through the bush along the harbour foreshore tracks down to here, and on to the National Park on Middle Head. The swimming enclosure was lots of fun. The walkway is high above the sea, and I loved jumping off into the very deep water.

There's a lot of seagrass growing in the shallows, but ten metres or so offshore it becomes a lovely sandy bottom. This is quite a large enclosure, so it was a decent swim to complete one length as required. The water was so gorgeous though that I did several lengths. Also, old bloke though I am, I couldn't resist climbing up the ladder from the sea to the walkway, and jumping off into the clear, warm, salty water.

Balmoral Beach

First up, I swam the perimeter of Balmoral Baths. The water was really warm and really salty. As with most of the harbour tidal baths, this gets very deep very quickly. There are some great spots along the outer walkway where you can jump into the water. Today, however, there were several muscular and bronzed young chaps doing somersaults and other spectacular dives to impress a group of girls, so I modestly limited myself to a swim.

The second spot for a swim was the site of the Balmoral Beach sharkproof net. I remember coming here during my first Sydney winter, and swimming in this very place. Today, I was a bit confused because I thought I could remember seeing, back then, a prominent, very visible shark net. All I could really see now was a line of marker buoys about a hundred metres or more offshore, but I guessed the nets must be suspended between and below these. I got a surprise when I swam out there and duck dived down below a buoy - no net. Still, I swam the length of the beach, practising my lazy front crawl in deep water on a long swim.

Later, at home, I did a bit of investigating on the internet, and found out that the shark net was, controversially, removed two years ago.

There are some beautiful views from Balmoral Beach across Middle Harbour  to Sydney Heads and the Pacific Ocean beyond.

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