I live in Coogee near the beach with my husband of 47 years. Coogee is located on Sydney’s famous Coastal Walkway, which stretches from Bondi Beach to Maroubra Beach.

The Eora people were a vast and complex Indigenous group of family and kin relations who occupied the area where I live today in Coogee. Their territory spread from the Georges River and Botany Bay in the south to present Sydney Harbour and north to Pittwater at the mouth of the Hawkesbury River, then west along the river to where Parramatta is today.

It is said that the men swam on the north end of Coogee Beach and the women at the south side. If this is true, it is mirrored by certain practices today. There’s a ladies’ pool on the south side of the beach, which is unusual in today’s societies, although it is a boon for women who are embarrassed about their bodies, or who don’t like to swim in mixed society.

Fields of seaweed wash up from the depths of the ocean during certain weather conditions and lie on the sands at Coogee Beach drying in the sun. Wedding Cake Island, at the mouth of the bay, serves as a buffer to tides much of the time, but it might, paradoxically, aid the whole process of the weeds being pulled out and dumped on the beach, through the law of centrifugality.

Randwick Council has loads of machinery and workers to clear the beach of rotting seaweed when it occurs. The work takes place early in the morning when everyone is asleep. We wake up to a pristine sandy beach. Indigenous tribes were not so lucky, and had to put up with the smell of the seaweed until it decomposed. The indigenous word ‘Koojay’ is thought to mean ‘smelly place’.

Randwick Council showed great initiative in promoting a rainbow colored walkway on the steps at Coogee Beach. It brightens up the area and makes a statement about supporting stigmatized peoples, including gays, lesbians, trans and First Nations people. The Mardi Gras festival for the Gay and Lesbian community (LGBTQ) occurred in March last year, not long after the walkway was painted as a tribute of support. Well done, Randwick Council!

A friend of mine, who is an artist, has created a series of YouTube videos of our coastal walkways. There is one entitled Bondi to Coogee by Paul Atroshenko.


See another post from this Aussie artist and photographer/videographer extraordinaire!