Latish on a weekend afternoon (later in summer, earlier in winter), if it hasn’t been raining, I like to drive across to South Coogee to put in a few laps at Wylie’s Baths.

It’s a peaceful place, enlivened with some marine life from time to time (all welcome other than blue bottles) and depending on the tide and the sea, a gentle or sometimes turbulent swell.  If you pick your time right, you can swim without risk of crashing into speedsters coming in the opposite direction.  You can usually get a park.

If I can’t get a park, then I will go to Clovelly.  There the marine life is more interesting and admission free, but the changing rooms are fetid (underventilated and sharing airspace with the urinals) and there is only cold water in the showers.  Wylies has hot showers for 20 cents and the changing rooms are well ventilated and kept clean.

A few weeks ago when I was there, the pool was closing early for a wedding.  There’s been a bit more of that recently.

Some canvas was pinned to the wall next to the top entrance.  I flicked it aside to reveal some pretty poisonous graffiti, directed at “Tony” and “Janice.”  I won’t repeat it here but it was clear there was some pretty deep animus.

The next week the graffiti had gone.  I noticed that there was an advertisement for a new manager which by its tone seemed to forebode some increased emphasis on turning a buck for the baths.  That sort of thing usually indicates a shake up is afoot.

What’s going on?

Now I read in today’s SMH that Andrew Crabbe, who runs the cafe at Bondi Icebergs, plans to take up the franchise at the baths.

Mr Crabbe has confirmed to the Herald that he is to take over the catering lease at the baths, and is waiting on approval from Randwick City Council. ”It won’t be five-star dining … but I do want to raise [the venue’s] profile,” he said. ”It’s a gem of a spot but it’s underutilised.”

Apparently the trust that runs Wylies has embarked on a push to raise more revenue and this is the way it is to be done.
Oh dear.  It’s a crowded world.  That’s the attraction of seclusion.

But for somebody else, I guess it’s just a good business proposition.


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