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I read about the swimming pools built into the edge of the ocean in the Sydney area but I wasn’t sure how to find them. We went to beachcomb between Manly Beach–one of the favorite Sydney beaches–and Shelly Beach, a tiny patch of sand beyond Manly. There is a lovely walk between the two beaches where we found the “Fairy Bower” pool built into a bend in the walkway.  I had to have a swim. It was high tide, and the waves did occasionally splash into the pool. The pool isn’t large or very deep, but has the advantage that there aren’t any jellyfish (very common along this coast), nor sharks.

Captivated by the Fairy Bower, a little online research revealed that there are lots of these pools, including one at the north end of Bondi Beach, the other must-see beach in Greater Sydney. It was a little cool for swimming that day, but I waded around. The Bondi pool has a wonderful mosaic along the side, and there is other artwork along the shore in this area including an impressive whale.

Bondi also appears to be known for the large surf-lifesaving presence on the beach. We were there on a weekend and it was very busy despite the overcat conditions. People were surfing and swimming but in addition were about thirty lifeguards. Two first aid stations were set up on the beach, a guard on a surfboard paddled among the surfers, and another on a jet ski trailed back and forth beyond the surfers. Some looked like they might be trainees, but even so it was a heavy presence. Closer to home I found Mahon Pool, a rock pool north of Maroubra Beach, just down the road from our current home. I went for a dip and it was as much fun as the others. Mahon Pool is cut into the rock, not poured concrete. The bottom is irregular and the cracks in walls and floor are home to snails and limpets, even a couple of tiny fish swam by me. These gorgeous pools, complete with bathrooms, changing rooms, and showers are free of charge so far. I’m going to visit as many as I can.

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