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Coogee Beach looking North January 1909

I live in Coogee, five kilometres from the centre of Sydney (“downtown”), and one hundred metres from the beach. We are in the process of placing a dozen framed historical photos of Coogee in the lobby of our building, which is named “Kanimbla”. The building next-door to us is now a motel, Coogee Sands, and next to that is the recently refurbished Coogee Pavilion.

Coogee Beach Tram Terminus 1958

In the thirties, Stones Milk Bar, stood next to our building. It is where the legendary Australian rock star, Johnnie O’Keefe, first performed, and where dignitaries, such as the bachelor Prince Phillip, mingled with guests. Trams used to pull up at its doorstep.

The Coogee Pavilion, underneath the blue-and-white dome, once housed an indoor aquarium, which later became a swimming pool. The Coogee Aquarium is infamous for the story of the shark that regurgitated a tattooed arm in front of a horrified crowd of spectators in 1935. Ironically, the shark was put on display to celebrate ANZAC Day ,when young Australians and New Zealanders went off to fight in the two great wars overseas. Young Coogee men, like those who would have fought back then, celebrate by spending the day on Wedding Cake Island, a rocky outcrop off the Bay, picnicking and drinking beer until dusk.

Coogee Aquariium.png

Coogee Aquarium

Coogee Pier  built in 1924 to model an ‘English seaside style’ amusement pier. , reaching 180 metres out into the sea complete with a 1400-seat theatre, a 600 capacity ballroom, a 400-seat restaurant upstairs, small shops and a penny (machine) arcade. Unfortunately Coogee’s rough surf damaged the pier and it was demolished in 1934.  (See Wikipedia for more). Remains of the pylons were recently washed up by two king tides that hit Coogee Beach and caused much damage to the surf club and swimming pool al the south end of the beach.

Coogee Pier 4 .jpg

The photo below taken in 1900 shows the very location of our building, as well as a toboggan that was erected here in the early years. Coogee has always been a site for pleasure and amusement, it seems.Coogee_Beach,_1900.jpg

The Aboriginal people who inhabited the area before European settlement, named the area Coogee (koojah which means “stinking place”), supposedly because of the seaweed that washed up—and still  washes up—becoming smelly when it dried out. See more about this at my website About Me page  at  http://www.anneskyvington.com/home-4/

Coogee Beach looking North around 1900 2.png

Other points of interest nearby are the Bali Bombing Memorial, and the shrine to the apparition of the Virgin. And of course the busy Coogee Bay Road further to the south with its coffee shops and restaurants.

Coogee Bay Road Horse and Cart

Coogee Beach around 1900.png

One of the main purposes for my writing and keeping a blog, is to destigmatise emotionally based illness. Having been brought up in a dysfunctional family, I had to find my own pathway out of depression during the early years of my career and marriage, and especially when I was giving birth to my children in the eighties. I was determined to be a better parent than mine had been. As a result of finding the right therapists, I was successful, after intensive work, in healing from long-term depression. I also discovered that nature, as well as nurture, is sometimes the culprit in serious mental illness. If you suffer from diabetes, you receive nothing but sympathy from others around you. However, it is a different story with admitting to having suffered from anxiety, depression or bipolar illness.

It is for these reasons that I have no shame in taking up the challenge to support and encourage those struggling with debilitating emotional problems. I have been there and know that there is a way out of the dark.

I am grateful to all those brave people who have communicated honestly with me about mental illness. I continue to learn such a lot from them, and hope that some of my comments are helpful, too.


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