A single photograph

This rockpool at South Coogee is one of Sydney's smallest.

Ideas for writers: A single photograph can prompt a story.

If a single photograph can be a prompt for a story, the photo above prompts in me the realisation of how fortunate people living near Sydney’s coastline are.

The Sydney coastline spans the distance from Palm Beach in the north to Cronulla in the south. That’s some tens of kilometres. Along it you find rockpools large and small that have been built over the decades of the Twentieth Century for the free enjoyment of Sydney’s residents.


South Coogee's is one of Sydney's smallest rock pools.
South Coogee’s is one of Sydney’s smallest rock pools.

Summer, and it is swim-time in the city. The hot, steamy days bring people in their thousand to the city’s surfing and harbourside beaches — and to the rockpools of nearby rock shelves. There, people swim laps of just frolic in the cooling waters. Come Winter, the pools are deserted as they and those who frequent them await the coming of Spring.

The pools were constructed by adding walls to suitable indentations and pools on rock platforms so as to make an enclosure to hold sea water. Some, like that at Cronulla, are large while others, like that in the photo above at South Coogee are very small.

A danger or two

Sydney’s rockpools were built on the rock platforms that are the interface between land and sea. The products of cliffline erosion over the millennia, those platforms are sandstone shelves only a few centimetres to a metre or so above sea level. That means, come a big swell, they are subject to inundation as the breakers smash against the platform to send surging waters over the rock platforms, their rockpools and anyone who is in the way.

The sign on the rock platform at South Coogee, that you see below, tells of the danger of being on the rock platform during high seas.

A sign warns those venturing onto the South Coogee rock platform of the dangers of high seas.
A sign warns those venturing onto the South Coogee rock platform of the dangers of high seas.

There for all

Sydney is not the only place with rockpools along its seaside foreshore. Here, though, those pools, and others you find by the city’s harbourside beaches, are part of the cultural fabric of the city. Swimming in them is free, so they are there for all who take the trouble to use them.

So, next time you are in the city, why not take a bus to the city’s beaches and rather than joining the masses in the surf, take a walk along the beach to where you see the headlands jutting out into the sea. For there you might just find a rockpool ready to cool you on a hot, humid Sydney summer afternoon.




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