Back In The Day . . . 1920s
Come To Coogee
Today, Bondi and Manly beaches vie for the title of Most Crowded Stretch Of Sand In NSW. But back in 1929, when this photo was taken, Coogee Beach was more than holding its own.
The entertainment pier that you see above was the obvious source of the area’s popularity, modelled along English seaside resort lines. Also, the beach was ably serviced by a tram line, which ceased operations in October 1960. Construction on the pier began in 1926 and culminated in November 1928 for “Come to Coogee Week” with the unveiling of a 1400 seat theatre, a 400 seat restaurant, a 600 capacity ballroom, shops and a penny arcade. The official opening was attended by 135,000 day-trippers and 10,000 erstwhile surfers.
Separate swimming baths for men and women were also a feature of Coogee, with a common area to the south of the pier protected by a shark net that encircled fully half the bay (that explains the dense crowds just this side of the structure). With regular dances and concerts held, the entire place became
a non-stop party. Until the sea intervened.
The construction company that built the pier swore it wouldn’t happen, but the pounding surf eventually took its toll on the superstructure, which buckled and was eventually removed entirely in 1934. The shark net lasted a little longer, but fell into disrepair during WWII, continued for a time to be hammered relentlessly by heavy seas, and was finally taken down in 1945.
The lesson? If you build it, they most certainly will come . . . but there’s never a guarantee that the sea won’t take it away again.