McIver’s Ladies Baths
December 21, 2012 § Leave a comment
This project was done a couple of years ago but it’s still one of my favourites. The brief was to design an experimental book that explored a specific community that you are involved in and I chose McIver’s Ladies Baths. I first visited the baths in the summer just after I moved out of college and into Coogee. I read in a community newsletter about the baths and as much as Coogee beach is great, over summer the amount of backpackers and other visitors isn’t always the most enticing scene so a friend of mine and I decided to check them out. As soon as we paid our 20c entrance fee we knew we’d found gold; a large rock formed pool, grass and trees as well as rocks for sun baking, showers, toilets and absolutely no men. It began what became a summer ritual for us, in the mornings with paper and coffee in hand. She features in the middle spread of the book, as do a lot of my other friends, all of whom I took to the baths when they visited me. The baths themselves are really interesting, beginning as a sacred space for the local aboriginal women, they were also the bathing area for the local nunnery before they formally became the McIver’s Ladies Baths after the baths construction in 1876. It is the last remaining women’s only seawater pool in Australia and has been granted as an exemption from the New South Wales Anti-Discrimination Act in 1995 – much to the dismay of many of the local men. If for what ever reason you do go to Coogee – and your female – walk up to the south end of the beach, past the park, and you’ll see the colourbond gates for the baths – remember 20c entry to keep the baths running!