When I took this image in 1998 the description below was true, 20 cents in a plastic bucket got you entry into McIver Baths, Women Only, Coogee, now it will cost you $2 dollars
If you take the coastal path south from Coogee Bay past the bobbing surfers and beachside revellers, you’ll reach a sign that reads “Ladies and Children Only” and another that tells you, “Entry 20 Cents.” Throw your change in the plastic bucket, follow the cream-coloured staircase and you’re at McIver’s Baths. The dappled-green ocean pool, tucked under the curve of a sandstone cliff with views to Wedding Cake Island, is the last women’s only-baths in Australia.
Here, Sydney women have jumped off rocks, swum laps in the sun or gazed out at the Pacific since before 1876. Or, if you believe the legend that this site once served as a swimming spot for Indigenous women—then the date stretches back well before that.
“People use the word sacred space too easily, but to have a space where women can just be, in whatever state of dress or undress they want is so freeing. You can wear your togs, not wear your togs. It doesn’t matter what shape you’re in. It’s great.”
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