Week 35 – The Kororoit Creek Swimming Pool

Week 35 – Saturday 26 January to Friday 1 February 2013

Swimming hole in Sunshine

Swimming in sepia and Sunshine

‘Can’t say I’ve ever swum in The Kororoit Creek Swimming Pool in Albion, near Sunshine. Or Kororoit Creek itself, which winds all the way down to Williamstown.  I came across some historical signs a few months back while pedalling along the Kororoit Creek bike path.

The pool was actually a swimming hole in a deep part of the creek and was popular up until the 1940s, by which time drownings and pollution led to the local council building a suburban pool.

Gum trees and creek

Gum tree swimming, anyone?

The signs by the bike path have been vandalised but you can still get a sense of days gone by.

Swimming hole sign

Selwyn Park sign

Close up of history sign

The mouth of Kororoit Creek is about a kilometre west of the Williamstown beach, just past Jawbone Marine Sanctuary.

Mouth of the creek

Monash University researchers at the mouth of the creek.

It’s a curious area – the local council has long been suspicious that the handful of angling club clubrooms are more residential that they should be.  Something fishy going on, perhaps.

Boats and poles

Kororoit Creek, looking east towards Williamstown

Kororit Creek, looking west towards Altona

Kororoit Creek, looking west towards Altona

 

As for the word ‘kororoit’, I think it means ‘young kangaroo’.

And as for Week 35’s dips, they were in Eastern View (three), Lorne (two), Point Roadknight (one) and Williamstown (three). But not Kororoit Creek.

Next week: Fleming’s Pool at  Altona beach

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Week 33 – chasing bubbles; nicking oysters

Week 33  Saturday 12 January t0 Friday 18 January 2013

Air Bubbles in Water

Image courtesy of good-wallpapers.com

This week’s guest columnist is Willy Dolphin Tom Cannon, the bard of the Bristol.

The swimmers

Chasing bubbles through the grey dawn light in smooth water

Hands reaching forward pulling liquid volume in near silence out past the breakwater

Save for increased heartbeat and the splash of the machine working rhythmically

Another morning, slicing towards the yellow buoy, Kevin  to the right, Lester the red back capped in front

Chop beside and Mick behind slowly winding up

The best kept secret the beautiful bay, still in the early morning

No Southerly Buster as the group tread water at the buoy looking towards the pylon

Head down the machine begins to wind up as I look forward chasing the bubbles!

– Tom Cannon

Beach and rocks

The Crystals, looking west to the buoys

Just around the corner from the buoys and the beach is what is known as The Crystals, a popular snorkelling and fishing spot, and scene of The Great Oyster Heist of 1885. In his  excellent book Williamstown Mysteries & Other Happenings, Bruce Tait writes: ‘In the late summer of 1885 a syndicate of Melbourne businessmen hit upon the idea of cultivating oysters in the waters of Port Phillip Bay, deciding that Williamstown offered by far the greatest potential for the cultivation of the popular delicacy. The location was in the crystal clear waters at the back of Hannan’s Farm, just to the east of the rifle butts…

‘Under a veil of secrecy the syndicate distributed between 150 and 200 six bushel sacks filled with the parental bivalve. The operation was completed in such an unobtrusive and discreet manner that people living near the beach had no idea what was occurring. But local resident Samuel Waycott was more intrigued than most. After a few days Samuel’s curiosity finally got the better of him. Ignoring the possibility of a shark attack, he dived into the cold waters and found the Crystals’ floor was dotted with oyster shells. Samuel gathered as many as he could and set out for shore, keen to sample the delicacy for the first time…

‘The syndicate caught word of the oyster-find and a few days later Constable Norgate of the Water Police, accompanied by a member of the syndicate, discovered Sam in the process of filling yet another bag. Sam was to be charged with stealing oysters to the value of 2 shillings and 6 pence but the syndicate, not wanting to publicise the fact that a bed of oysters lay in the waters off Williamstown, did not press the charge. Samuel Waycott walked free from the courthouse.

‘The case was widely discussed in legal circles. Most legal men were of the opinion that, had the site been settled upon, a clear case of theft would have been proven. For the syndicate the cat was well and truly out of the bag now, as news had spread of a bed of oysters at the back of Hannan’s Farm. Any thoughts the borough could boast yet another new industry were soon crushed, as a number of locals had by now also acquired a taste for the mollusc, and within a short space of time not one single shell from the original sacks of of oysters could be found.’

oyster

Image sourced from oystersentinel.org

365 Swims snorkelled The Crystals recently and found zebra fish, angel fish, a bull-nosed stingray, spiky sea urchins, abalone shells, a tyre or two, some bottles, a golf ball – but no oysters. Bruce Tait’s book is available from Hobsons Bay libraries. Recommended reading.

Bruce Tait book cover

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Week 25 – fishing harbour

Week 25 – Saturday 17 November to Friday 23 November 2012

Williamstown private fishing harbour

Photo by John Grieve

At the end of Bayview St, between the Williamstown swimming beach and Jawbone Marine Sanctuary, is this private fishing harbour. It’s a world unto its own. A step back in time.

‘I’m always taken by the solitariness of the place, especially during the week,’ says Willy Dolphin John Grieve, who pedals past regularly on his way to his morning dip. ‘It’s places like this that make a city, that  give a city its character.’

Williamstown fishing harbour

Photo by John Grieve

You don’t see many people here but you’ll see plenty of pelicans when the boats come in.  And a few weeks ago a seal was lolling about on its back.

Boats at fishing harbour

Photo by John Grieve

Who built the harbour? And when? And how did they get around local council by-laws? 365 Swims might need to visit the local history society. Or chat to some old salts.

Fishing village painting by John Percival

Gannets diving, painting by John Perceval

On the bike path between the fishing harbour and Wiliamstown High School’s Bayview St campus is this re-production of a painting by noted Australian artist John Perceval. The painting, the Hobsons Bay history marker tells us,  is one of a series of seascapes Perceval painted in Williamstown in 1956-57. He painted another Williamstown series ten years later.

John Grieve, who kindly took the three fishing harbour photographs, gets down to the beach very early for his daily dip. Then he heads off, more often than not, to play croquet. In the winter he barracks for Williamstown, from the Morris St ticket-box half-forward-flank.