GALLERY: Tribute to the Illawarra's rock pools

A MERCURY SERIES - Saltwater Sanctuaries

Coalcliff: our gift from a century ago

Cut from shelves of rock and fed by the world's most beautiful ocean, they are a gift we and our children get to enjoy - thanks to the hard work put in a century ago. - Ben Langford

Wombarra: safe haven at ocean's edge

Not quite a perfect rectangle, when the waves are big and rough the pool's end and the ocean's beginning is hard to distinguish. - Kate Walsh

Coledale: jewel almost 100 and still strong

When the tide is high, it’s easy to overlook the Coledale ocean pool. Carved deep into the rock between the pebbly shore and the wide ocean, it could be mistaken as part of the natural landscape. - Kate Walsh

Austinmer: exhilaration is a swim at Austi

For some, swimming in the Austinmer pools is a solo pursuit, a morning meditation between yourself, the water, and the stream of bubbles flowing from your mouth. - Ben Langford

Bulli: sweet serenity in sheltered pool 

A thin band of concrete and stainless steel is all that separates the flat sheet of Bulli tidal pool from the heaving Pacific Ocean. - Joshua Butler

Woonona: ocean pool shines in limelight

The ocean pool at Woonona has links to both Captain Cook and the Countdown television show. - Glen Humphries

Bellambi: thrice-daily dips at rock pool

On very hot days at Bellambi rock pool, the swimmers don't disperse with the day's light. They stay until after dark, when the blackness adds a new kind of magic to the delicious sensation of swimming in a protected little rectangle of moving, salty sea. - Angela Thompson

Towradgi: marine life joins the pool crowd

After 20 years of swimming at Towradgi rock pool, Phil Murray's routine is entrenched. Six mornings a week, he heads for the edge closest to the sea, swims one lap, then stops, stands, and thinks to himself: "How lucky am I?" - Angela Thompson

Wollongong: history flows through pool

The Illawarra’s history is etched into the uneven surfaces lining the walls of Wollongong’s Gentlemen’s Baths. - Kate McIlwain

Shellharbour: pool part of Tony's life

Tony Speelman has been to war, raised a family, moved away from the Illawarra and returned. But whatever life threw at him, the waters of the Shellharbour rock pool have been a constant to which he always could, and always did, come back. - Angela Thompson

Gerringong: his and her rock pools

In its early days, Gerringong’s Boat Harbour Rock Pool was designated ‘‘ladies only’’ – but there were times they had trouble keeping the men out. - Alex Arnold

Kiama: where the locals love to swim

It's not just tourists who enjoy the rock pool, with its sweeping views across to Bombo and north across the Illawarra. - Alex Arnold

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