MERCURY SERIES - Saltwater Sanctuaries
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.
A report from a Gerringong council meeting in 1930 (the Gerringong Municipal Council rejoined the Kiama Municipality in 1954) quoted one alderman as saying ‘‘there is no excuse for men going to the ladies’ baths’’, even though several aldermen themselves had been observed using the pool.
The construction of men’s baths on the southern side of the harbour was supposed to help the situation, but the open location of the men’s baths and problems with seaweed (or so they say) kept the men returning to the ladies’ baths.
Time eventually resolved the contentious issue of mixed bathing and the men’s pool fell into a state of disrepair.
Today, the Boat Harbour Rock Pool is enjoyed by all.
Tucked around the headland north of Boat Harbour Reserve, access to the pool is via a footpath that hooks around the cliffs.
The floor of the pool is natural rock with a sandy, gritty beach at the shallow end.
Alma MacPherson has been a regular since moving to Gerringong 10 years ago and the history of the boat harbour area, which was once home to a 150-metre long jetty, always interested her. Last year she helped the Gerringong and District Historical Society establish interpretive signs in the reserve detailing the harbour’s past.
Mrs MacPherson said the pool was always different.
‘‘Some days the waves come over the footpath and you can barely get in,’’ she said.
‘‘It has a beautiful outlook and the council do a really good job; rangers come and check regularly.’’
Mrs MacPherson remembers the pool being emptied three times: once to fix a crack in the wall, another to clear out seaweed, and a lengthy closure back in 2011 when a dead whale washed up next to the pool.
‘‘You meet nice people – some are regulars who come at set times, some swim laps, others just paddle around.
‘‘Being here is good for you, and if I didn’t meet some friends here, I would never have met them.’’