At the Southern end of Ocean Beach about a hundred metres out along the rock platform lies the ruined remains of an ocean swimming pool. Its walls are long collapsed and the breaking waves are slowly filling it with sand and shells, like a walled midden. These ocean pools are a great asset and it is shame to see them left to decay – no doubt a victim of council budget cutting and the rising cost of liability insurance.
Beyond the skeletal remains of the pool, the rock platform continues around the headland, far below the S-bending road that winds its way from the Northern beaches of the headland around to Pearl Beach and Patonga. At the tip of the headland, the rock platform becomes unpassable and to continue onward to Pearl Beach it becomes necessary to clamber up a short way to a wide track that runs along the cliff face, some ten metres above the water. Half way along, Naomi had an attack of the munchies and fell hungrily to her knees to graze on a patch of Warrigal Greens that is growing from under a rock. “Hhmmm…a bit saltier than the one’s we’re growing in the garden”….which I am thinking will save us having the find a salt lick for her later on. Warrigal Greens, orTetragonia tetragonioides, to be precise, are also known as sea spinach – hence their tolerance of salty areas like a cliff face overlooking the ocean. They are also known as “Botany Bay spinach”, due to the fact that Captain James Cook used the greens to prevent scurvy among his men. The bright green, matte, diamond-shaped leaves look like a bit like normal baby spinach, but come with a distinct flavour of their own
Sadly, upon reaching Pearl Beach we found the water brown and churned up as the waves dumped hard immediately on the edge of the sand. All thoughts of a mid-walk ocean swim disappeared from our minds as the incoming waves layered murky looking foam onto the wet sand.
Fortunately however, Pearl Beach is home to one of the few remaining ocean pools, at the beach’s Southern tip. A small sign proudly proclaims that this pool was erected in 1928, and remains an item of local cultural and historic importance. And long may it remain so. Celebrating the fact that this particular pool had remained unscathed through the night of the long budgetary knives called for some laps – twenty no less. Which is half a kilometre if the pool is 25m in length, and not quite so much if it less than that. In her haste to get out the door this morning Naomi had thoughtlessly neglected to pack the measuring tape and so we will forever remain unsure – but lets assume shall we that the pool is of the more impressive length so as to make my feat of swimming all the more spectacular.