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Swimming Pools or Muddy Puddles

By Barry Lees

At the recent opening of Galston Swimming Pool, Mayor Ruddock told a story about when he and I were kids, we swam in a waterhole in the bush at Pennant Hills. The story brought back a lot of memories.

I lived on 5 acres of bush at Laurence Street Pennant Hills. There were 5 of us kids and 4 boys next door. We were a bit wild. Philip Ruddock lived just up the road and occasionally joined us. Sometimes my Mum couldn’t stand the noise and yelled at us to “get down the bush and don’t come back till tea time”.

Our place was next to Elouera Reserve (now part of Berowra Valley National Park), so there was bush for miles. We spent much of our lives down there racing around, climbing trees, playing in caves, chasing snakes, catching frogs.

The Waterfall was our favorite place. It was a pond about 15m round and 1.5m deep, with leaves and sticks on the bottom. There was a huge rock overhanging the pond, and the creek flowed over the edge and fell into the water. Those who were brave enough used to jump off the rock and land in the water about 7m below, our feet sinking into leaves, sticks and mud.

Img 10006 Swimming Pools Or Muddy Puddles

With a howl of excitement, we’d climb up a vertical rock ledge using small holes someone had chiselled into the sandstone and do it all again. We also found soft rocks and rubbed them on a damp rock near a puddle to make orange or red war paint.

We painted our faces and arms to look extra fierce. That night, we had to go last in the bath because the water went orange. As I write this, I realise again how much things have changed. We had no computers, mobile phones, social media or supermarkets but we did have a cow, 2 horses, a big vegie patch, lots of chooks, a “bury your own” toilet and the bush to enjoy.

We thought our waterfall was the best place to swim. We felt sorry for kids who had to swim in a proper chlorinated swimming pool with all those other people and no rocks to climb. But being realistic, we can’t all have muddy ponds to splash around in.

Given that, a proper swimming pool would be good place to go. I hope that the upgraded Galston pool becomes a favorite place for the whole community. I wonder if the kids of today, when they turn eighty and swimming pools are buried under high-rise buildings, will tell stories of the good times they had splashing about in those old-fashioned things called swimming pools.

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