For me the scent of a swimming is significant. It’s memorable. Growing up we went to the pools for school. This was in suburban Epping. There was popcorn and the smell of hot chips and frosty snow cones. The smell was kind of a lure that foreshadowed the physical existence of the swimming pool. My feelings of that space are mixed. There was excitement about the food and the need to physically validate myself in that space.

I didn’t feel in my natural element. I wasn’t a sporty person and prone to getting sunburnt. It sort of, well it typified how man made smells are associated with place. It wasn’t coming from the landscape it came from the human social activity. It’s an example of how smells can form strong neural links. I suppose different smells can come together and fuse together and become associated with each other. When I smell chlorine I start to look for the butter smell.

I think I had a sense of unease and so that smell brings back a memory of unease. It was connected to being socially accepted.


Chlorine, butter popcorn, artificial raspberry flavour, hot chips


Tobin Bales