The name 'Coogee' (pronounced as "coo gee") seems to have been
derived from an Aboriginal word which means "bad smell". This would be of course due to the decaying seaweed
which is washed up onto the beach - even in these modern times.
The original track which brought people to the
Coogee Beach area back in 1832 would have followed the basic route nowadays taken by Anzac Parade and
In July 1838, the village of Coogee was gazetted with many
of the streets in the district named after sea creatures. Today Dolphin , Neptune, and Bream Streets still
remain whilst it is probable that Coogee Bay Road and Arcadia Streets were later renamed from their
original "Whale St" and "Fish St".
In 1902, Randwick council first allowed unrestricted surf
bathing, provided knee to neck bathing suits were worn by anyone over the age of five. The suitability of "loitering"
(sunbathing) was being debated and was eventually banned in 1910 at the request of residents. The Solicitor-General thought otherwise and refused to pass the
ordinance. As surf bathing became more popular, so did the
area gain fame and in 1907 the Coogee Surf Lifesaving Club was formed, this was one year after a heroic rescue
at Bondi was the catalyst for the first surf life saving club in Australia in 1906
In 1929, after much publicity, the shark net was opened and swimmers
paid one penny for the security of swimming in an enclosure.
A dream of a seaside pier similar to those "at home" in England encourage the formation of a
company in 1924, to construct a pier that would reach over 180 metres into the sea and hold an entertainment
venue with a 1,400 seat theatre, a ballroom with the capacity
of 600 patrons and a 400 seat restaurant together with the necessary shops and facilities to satisfy the
patrons. 1928 the amusement pier was opened but its life was destined to be a very short
predicted by all except for the promoters, the Australian surf removed part of the structure in
1933-34. The balance of the pier was removed in 1945.
Coogee Palace Aquarium
The Coogee Aquarium and Swimming Baths were officially opened
on 23 December 1887, it covered a block of land bordered by Arden Street, Beach Street, Bream Street and Dolphin
Street. The Palace included an indoor Swimming pool (25 x 10 meters), an aquarium featuring the tiger shark from
the famous shark arm murder case, a Great Hall that could be used as a roller skating rink, Canadian toboggan ran
down the hillside for over 70 meters, a herd of 14 donkeys to ride as well as swings, whirligig's rocking horses,
toy boats, aviaries, flower beds, bandstand and an open air bar.