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The coastal area which would become the suburb of Coogee had been used by local Aboriginal tribes as a fishing and hunting ground for centuries before white settlement, and the local Cadigal and Biddigal tribes continued to use the area well into the 1800s until residential development made traditional modes of hunting too difficult. With early residential development in the area concentrated within the gentrified suburb of Randwick, it would be Coogee's attractive seaside location that would attract wealthy land owners to the suburb by the 1900s and was soon considered the region's finest.
With the opening of the Coogee Aquarium and Swimming Baths in 1887, this coastal playground would attract crowds of day trippers to rival Manly and Bondi and aspired to be Sydney's premier seaside resort. With a long Pleasure Pier opened in 1928 complete with a 1400 person theatre, ballroom, curiosity shops and slot machines, Coogee seemed poised to become Sydney's favourite getaway location. However with the Depression only a year away and severe storms damaging the pier's foundations, it was deemed unsafe and demolished in 1933.
Without the distraction of the Pier, attentions were focused on Coogee's stunning beach and, with a shark net erected to protect swimmers, Sydneysiders flocked to Coogee to pay a penny to swim in Australia's safest beach, prompting a newspaper of the time to report that Coogee 'simply cannot cope with the crowds'.
Other clever beach innovations included installing flood lights along the beach which gave rise to the popularity of night swimming with Australia's first Night Surf Carnival held in the 1930s. During World War II, the net would fall into disrepair and with resources needed elsewhere, fixing the net was not a priority and was eventually dismantled in 1945.
Today the suburb remains a favourite with Sydneysiders, yet the proliferation of accessible coastal beaches along Sydney's coastline has meant that Coogee no longer receives the tremendous crowds it once did. With several parklands, schools and a campus of the University of New South Wales located within the suburb, Coogee is a favourite for young singles and families looking to take advantage of Coogee's metropolitan village centre and attractive coastal location.