Lurline Bay on a typically calm day
Lurline Bay is a small, rocky bay nestled between Coogee and Maroubra beaches, and is one of the area’s hidden gems. Despite being located in the heart of Sydney’s busy Eastern Suburbs, Lurline Bay is often uncrowded and you can sometimes sit for hours without seeing another soul. It’s a great place to watch spectacular sunrises (especially during the autumn months), and is home to a diverse range of birdlife that make their homes in the local scrub and cliff-faces. Keep an eye out for large flocks of black cockatoos screeching away in the late afternoons, watch as cormorants dry their wings on the sunny rocky ledges, and see kestrels hovering in frozen motion high above as they line up their prey below.
Spectacular sunrise at Lurline Bay
An interesting feature of Lurline Bay is a channel that’s been cut into the northern corner. This was unbelievably hand carved by a man called Percy Bates in the 1920’s who was trying to prove that you could make electricity by harnessing wave energy. While some thought he was eccentric at the time, he actually succeeded in producing enough electricity to light his work shed and power several radiators (Sydney Morning Herald, 18/02/1984).
Percy Bates' hand-carved channel
Took around 5 years to carve
There's many a hidden cove along our shores that, with the right swell and wind combination, can produce heart-stopping surfing conditions. Lurline Bay is one such novelty, a fickle beast in its own right, only coming into its own when huge swells are trying to reclaim our Eastern coastline. Don't come here looking for consistency - the wave only breaks a handful of times a year, and only when all the planets align.
A rare, leap year-type swell
Huge SE-NE swells, accompanied by NW-SW winds and low tides are required to produce a right-hander that breaks over reef at the southern end. The swell needs to be at least 2m to break, although the larger the swell the better as the wave breaks out further and the rides are longer. The takeoff is quite steep and can produce barrels on the odd occasion but it's generally a short, intense drop that quickly flattens out to a crumbly wall ride. It can handle very large swells and has reportedly been ridden at 5m plus. Paddling out is easy enough, just jump off the rocks and you're in, but make sure you time your re-entry or else you could end up a broken mess on the rocks in the northern corner.
Bodyboarder perched on the edge
Kick back, tune out, drop in
The calm waters of Lurline Bay make it a popular spot for families and water sport enthusiasts. On any given day (especially in the warmer summer months), Lurline Bay is a hive of activity and you can see people everywhere taking advantage of its relatively safe waters. Whether you're into swimming, fishing, snorkelling, scuba diving, spearfishing, paddle boarding, kayaking or anything else - the bay has you covered.
Tidal swimming pool, all yours...
Despite its calm and subdued appearance, Lurline Bay has a darker side and there's serious consequences for those that underestimate it. Living in a house that overlooked Lurline Bay for around 10 years, I've seen countless rescues, people in serious trouble as well as numerous fatalities. The Westpac chopper is almost a weekly (and sometimes nightly) occurrence during certain times of the year, the main cause being fishermen swept off nearby rocks or swimmers who've gotten into trouble at Maroubra or Coogee beaches and sucked out in the rip.
Outlaw-ish moonrises, 1% of the time
Being a popular walking track (and a natural extension of the famous Bondi to Coogee coastal walk), many people walk around Lurline Bay when the weather's nice. In moderate to large swells and high tides there's a section near Percy Bates' channel at the northern side of the bay that's relatively impassable but many people still try to make a run between waves. The detour may not seem appealing at the time (it would take about 10 minutes to head back and re-route along Mermaid Avenue), but it's a better option than being smashed against the rocks or even drowning.
A great place to watch storms roll by
After a heavy rain, the stormwater drains at both ends spill out brown muck into ocean so avoid being in the water at these times. In 2008, two people unfortunately died in this drain after they were swept down it during a heavy rainfall. A third person who was with the group survived and local residents paddled out on their surfboards to rescue him.
Lurline Bay is sporadically patrolled by Maroubra SLSC during the summer months (the dinghy comes by a couple of times each day on weekends), and the Westpac rescue chopper's a regular visitor looking for fisherman who've been swept off the rocks.
Cruise ship returning to Sydney Harbour at sunset
If you ever get some spare time, grab your camera and head down to your local beach late one night - I almost guarantee you that within a short period of time something amazing will happen. You might be lucky enough to spot a whale breaching, witness bioluminescence in the waves, see a shooting star, glimpse a rare marine creature - the list is endless and extremely rewarding when you see it.
Slow shutter of a wave about to break
Same wave as above, 0.8 seconds later
Bioluminescence lighting up the night
Lurline Bay is situated between Coogee and Maroubra beaches in the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney. Walking from either beach takes around 20 minutes, just head south from Coogee or north from Maroubra and follow the masses of people doing the coastal walk. If you're driving, head down Lurline Street off Torrington Road as parking's usually easier to find here and there's a couple of staircases that access the bay.
I hope you enjoyed reading this article as much as I enjoyed writing it. Lurline Bay holds a special place in my heart as I lived there for 10 years, and I wrote this article for myself as much as I did for anyone else as a way of remembering the good times I had there with family and friends.
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