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History of Coogee Beach

Although indigenous populations have lived in Coogee Beach for centuries, the history of Coogee Beach as we know it today goes back only about 180 years. The coastal paradise of Coogee Beach has made quite the transformation over the years and it’s truly a must-see. Here, we’re exploring a brief history of Coogee Beach before you book a room at Sydney Lodges to experience everything this stunning beach town has to offer.

What does the name Coogee mean?

Coogee comes from the local Aboriginal word “koojay” which, ironically, means “smelly place”. Only slight variations on the word exist such as the Bidjigal language meaning — “stinking seaweed”.  Not to worry… if you visit Coogee Beach today, you’ll experience neither a smelly place nor stinking seaweed. You’re much more likely to smell the nostalgia of fish and chips or hints of sunscreen from your neighbour’s slip, slop, slap routine.

When was Coogee founded?

Coogee became an official town on 12 October 1838 although, interestingly, the original spelling of this new village was Coodgee.

Right from the start, Coogee was in the business of paradise. Large beachside estates were built by Sydney’s elite and some early settlers who would sell produce at the Sydney Markets made their fortunes in Coogee.

Even some original dwellings like “Oceanview’, built by the Wirth’s Circus family still stand at the corner of Alison Street, Arden Street and Beach Street in Coogee Beach today.

All it takes is a brief stroll through the area to find lovely heritage sites and a suburb teeming with history.

Coogee Beach Becomes a Paradise

By 1887, Coogee already began welcoming visitors with open arms as the Coogee Aquarium was opened that year with its entertainment complex expanded across an entire block.

And not long after, in the 1920s, Coogee Beach was advertised as “Australia’s Most Beautiful Seaside Resort”.

Although the city’s reputation became tainted in the 30s due to rumours of crime and mystery, Coogee Beach is now incredibly safe. On the surface, you’d never even know the area has an underworld past.

For over 100 years, Coogee Beach accommodation has been welcoming visitors from all over, as Australians and international guests make their way to the beautiful Sydney coastline. It’s a legacy we’re proud to uphold here at Sydney Lodges.

Did You Know?

  • Wylie’s Baths, a popular ocean pool that’s still enjoyed today, was built in 1907 by Henry Wylie, as an Olympic training pool for his daughter, Mina Wylie, who was one of the first two women to represent Australia at an Olympic Games, along with her friend, Fanny Durack. They first competed in the 1912 Olympic Games in Stockholm, Fanny won gold and Mina brought home the silver medal.
  • Coogee Beach became the centre of a media frenzy on Anzac Day 1935 when a shark at the Coogee Aquarium tore off the tattooed arm of a man in what was later known as the “Shark Arm Murder”.
  • Coogee Beach was heavily fortified during World War II due to fear of a Japanese attack, although these attacks never came to fruition.

Coogee Beach Today

Home to around 83,000 people, Coogee Beach remains a popular coastal destination — and for good reason.

Visitors and residents enjoy a stunning outdoor lifestyle with everything from the iconic coastal walk from Bondi to Maroubra, passing through Coogee, to the amazing natural ocean pools, countless restaurants and cafes, and boutiques sprinkled along the main road.

A stay at one of our Sydney Lodges accommodations will help you feel like a local during your visit to Coogee Beach. Just a stone’s throw from all the historical charm of Coogee Beach, our boutique hotel rooms are the perfect way to spend your coastal holiday in Sydney.

Thank you for choosing to Stay Local with Sydney Lodges and explore the history of Coogee Beach like never before!.