THE BOGEY Hole is a lawless place on Newcastle's coastline. More Bogan than Bogey. More Doggy than Bogan.
It's away from prying eyes. The glossy pictures in promotions for the city push a vibe of serenity at the magnificent ocean pool listed on the NSW State Heritage Register last May. It makes a cameo in Destination NSW's recent Feel NSW television commercial where a swimmer dives into the water just after sunrise. Destination NSW promotes it as "an Instagrammer's dream".
Not an unleashed or barking dog in the frame.
Arriving in late December just after sunrise, I saw that dogs had the run of the place. Few things murder a serenity vibe like a poodly type of dog yapping relentlessly while its owner swims laps, clearly not giving a rat's about incessant barking.
Another dog ran up and down the side of the ramp as its owner swam laps. Both owners and their dogs left the Bogey Hole together, around 20 minutes after I had arrived. Then a couple with an unleashed staffy turned up. Then an unleashed border collie rocked up with a bloke.
Did I say anything to poodly owner? Like what? "Excuse me, your dog appears so distressed that it is barking non-stop. Do you think you might interrupt your freedom swim and attend to its distress?"
Nah, I didn't say anything. I'm scarred from once asking an Aussie who fired up a lung dart in a Balinese restaurant if she might desist while we were eating. This inspired a shouty abuse-ridden rant about not being in Australia now, there's no law against smoking in the restaurant and that she chose to exercise her freedom to puff away.
How long has the Bogey Hole been a dogfest?
How long has the Bogey Hole been a dogfest? Probably forever.
Almost a decade ago, former Newcastle Herald scribe Greg Ray wrote that the Bogey Hole might be renamed the Doggy Hole. He wrote "Adamstown reader Catherine Graham asked, in the letters to the editor column in this newspaper on Tuesday, for Newcastle City Council to erect a ''no dogs'' sign at the recently overhauled swimming spot.
''She applauded the revamp but complained that several times recently she'd gone to the Bogey Hole to swim, only to find that dog owners had unleashed their pets into the pool. Whitebridge correspondent Brad Robb was quick to point out the next day that people who don't want to swim with dogs can always go to Merewether or Newcastle ocean baths."
Smilingjack responded to Ray's article asking if he could "bring my horse, pig or goat down for a swim too, all of which love a dip".
There remains an absence of signage regarding dogs at the Bogey Hole. Which, of course, is a green light for some dog owners.
A poke around the interwebs found a picture of the Bogey Hole at visitnewcastle.com with four - count 'em, four - off-leash dogs at the Bogey Hole, including one labrador enjoying a swim in the pool. Obviously this is the vibe that tourism promoters at Destination NSW want to promote.
Visitors can go to a state heritage listed icon, take the dog off the leash and be free from regulatory oversight. Those who suggest the dogs might be better suited for the dog beach can, as they say in Happy Days, "sit on it".
The Bogey Hole is outside of the signage responsibility of CoN. That responsibility belongs to Crown Lands in the Department of Planning and Environment. I asked the department what I optimistically thought were three non-onerous questions about dogs at the Bogey Hole.
Are dogs allowed down the steps and into the Bogey Hole in Newcastle? Is Crown Lands aware that there is no signage preventing owners taking unleashed dogs down the steps and being let loose around, and even swimming, in the Bogey Hole? Is Crown Lands happy for dogs to continue to be in the Bogey Hole enclosure leashed or unleashed?
"Crown Lands will liaise with City of Newcastle to ensure a consistent approach to regulation of dogs is taken, including appropriate signage."
Straight from the modern media management guide for government: don't answer the questions you were asked, answer the question you wanted asked.
Nothing says nothing like a promise of liaison between different levels of government unaccompanied by an action time frame.
I guess I'll have to down another cup of "shut-up" if I encounter another poodly yapper and its owner while in a selfish search for a bit of sunrise serenity.
IN THE NEWS:
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can continue to access our trusted content: