Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Christmas Day at Wylies Baths

Christmas Day morning was cool, dull and overcast after a scorching Christmas Eve. Still, we headed off for a swim. For the past few months I've been swimming at Dawn Fraser Baths in the harbour, but it was closed for the public holiday. Wylies Baths was open, so Wylies it was. The baths are usually very busy with parties on Xmas Day, but, perhaps because of the weather, not  many people were down there when we arrived, so there was plenty of room to swim. The ocean water temperature is always cooler than the harbour water temperature, but today it felt especially cool. Perhaps there's been an upwelling? In any case I didn't believe the 20 degrees Celsius written on the board. Still, it was a great way to start the day. Ten lengths of breaststroke, then a couple more just gliding up and down with the goggles off, watching the waves crashing against the rocks. It started to drizzle as we left, and, eventually, it was a day of thunderstorms and heavy rain.

Friday, April 20, 2012

At Heathcote National Park Again

Lots more rain has fallen here in Sydney, especially during this past week. Today was sunny, however, so I jumped on the train to Waterfall and went for a long bushwalk in Heathcote National Park. The track from Waterfall to Heathcote is about 10 kilometres long, and it passes along sandstone ridges and along creek gullies. 

One of the reasons that I enjoy this walk so much is that there are lots of opportunities to swim in the creeks. Usually there are several swimming holes where I can swim, but this year the creeks are full so I could swim just about anywhere. 

Here is one of my favourite swimming spots. Usually it's just a deep hole in the creek bed with very little flow along the creek. Today the water is flowing quickly. 

Usually these rocks are pretty dry, and there's just a trickle of water in the channel. After lots of rain though, this hole in the rock becomes a whirlpool jacuzzi. There's just enough room to sit inside the hole.  The water running through the hole creates spa-like jets in the swimming hole. It's fun to sit on the rock just below water level and feel the jets on your body.

The rapids in the photo above are normally only a couple of trickles flowing over the rocks until heavy rain creates a strong flow making it's way down to another beautiful swimming hole at Kingfisher Pool.

Kingfisher Pool is very full indeed in the video above. There's a lot of water in the waterfall. It's great fun to swim over to the falls and sit behind the curtains of water. Also fun to sit under it and feel it hammering down on your head.

Friday, April 13, 2012

The End Of The Summer Swimming Season

On Sunday, I had my last swim at Dawn Fraser Pool (or Balmain Baths) for six months. It is now closed for the winter. I managed to have a few days swimming just before it closed. The weather was kind enough to stay dry for several days in a row (unusual for this past summer), so I went on Thursday evening after work, on Saturday morning at sunrise and again on Sunday morning at sunrise. Monday was actually the final day, but, after a wild storm on Sunday night, the Parramatta River was polluted by stormwater yet again. I'll be back on, or shortly after, the October long weekend.

On Wednesday I headed back to Coogee and Wylies Baths. I'll be swimming here for the next six months. I actually like having the two different locations at the two different times of year for my regular swims. It provides a seasonal feel to both sets of baths.

I swam again at Wylies today, on a beautiful Autumn morning in the warm sun. The water was clear, sparkling and 21°C. I'm used to swimming a kilometre at Balmain, which is 20 lengths, but I have to remember that a length at Wylies is 50 yards rather than 50 metres, so I need to swim an extra 2 lengths. Not much of a problem in this wonderful saltwater.

Today I was amused to see that somebody had dug out an old sign that I'd completely forgotten about. It used to be displayed quite prominently when I was a regular swimmer and member here during the 1980s before the renovation/ restoration of the baths.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Sydney's Wet Summer

Sydney has had an incredibly wet summer so far, with more twice last summer's rainfall already having been recorded. The La Nina phenomenon seems to be the cause. Such heavy rainfall affects swimming in Sydney's waterways. Because of the city's built up areas, stormwater runs directly into the rivers, bays and the ocean, causing pollution incidents. Generally, the ocean beaches are declared safe one day after heavy falls, but the bays and rivers can take up to three days to clear. I usually swim in the Harbour every weekend during the summer months, so it has been frustrating this summer when there have been so many pollution days. I've ended up going over to Coogee Beach or Wylies Baths for my swims, but, even in the ocean, there's been a lot of flotsam. The beaches are also quite crowded at this time of year, and the seasonal north-easterly winds often bring seaweed and bluebottles (Portugese Man-Of-War).

Midweek, during a normal summer, I often go for a swim, after work, over to Balmain Baths. It's a bit of a hike, as I work in the south-western suburbs, and have to take a train 30 kilometres into the city centre, then a bus 3km out to Balmain. I could just go to one of the many chlorinated municipal pools, but I really enjoy swimming in saltwater. I have been missing out on this swim since the new year because of the stormwater pollution, so it was with relief that I read the Beachwatch reports on Thursday morning when they declared pollution to be unlikely. 

I set off on the train into the city at 3:30. Half way there, of course, the rain started. It was pretty heavy too. I thought it might clear, but it persisted. Another wet summer evening. I really don't mind swimming in the rain, but I hoped that there wouldn't be too much runoff into the baths.

By the time I got into the city and waited for the bus, there was a lot of water on the roads. Still, I caught the bus out to Balmain, determined to swim. On the way across the Glebe Island Bridge, the rain started to ease, and by the time we got to Balmain it had stopped. I walked across a very wet Elkerton Park, and down to the pool. It was an unusually low tide, and the seagrasses were exposed. The water was a bit on the murky side, but I managed to do my twenty lengths and avoid any sort of sickness.

Coming on to the Glebe Island Bridge. Still raining.

Looking from Glebe Island Bridge across to the Harbour Bridge. The rain is easing over the city.

At Balmain Baths. The rain has stopped.

A very low tide with the seagrasses visible.

A good standby for this wet summer has been Birrong Pool which is on the train line from work back home. As I said, I don't really enjoy chlorine pools, but it's been better than no swim at all. The ocean baths and beaches are just too far after work. It would mean taking a train into the city, then a bus out to the Eastern Suburbs, then a bus and train back to the Inner West where I live. Sometimes on a Friday afternoon I'll go, but never midweek.

Birrong Pool
I normally have a midweek swim here in the winter when Balmain Baths are closed.