Bondi Beach is as much the pride of Sydney as the Opera House or spectacular Sydney Harbour, being Australia's most famous beach it is enjoyed by 40,000 visitors on a sunny day, there is even a popular television series filmed here called Bondi Rescue.
It's hard to say which of Sydney's beaches is the best with each one having its positive and negative aspects, but Bondi certainly has a lot going for it. With thousands of local and international visitors flocking to this 1km stretch of white sand, Bondi Beach is an experience that every visitor to Sydney should not miss. Not just for the great surfing but for the atmosphere and diversity of people that live and play here. The suburb of Bondi is full of trendy shops, cafes and restaurants but the beach is why most people come here. During summer it is a melting pot, buzzing with all different types of people, from Australia and around the world. Between the lifesavers plucking floundering tourists from the water, helicopters flying overhead and surfers battling for waves, there is never a dull moment. Bondi Beach is located on the east coast of Sydney, being only 7km from the Central Business District, Bondi is a backpackers paradise and is easily accessible by bus, train, car or if your up for it, a nice walk!
A Brief History of Bondi Beach
The word "Bondi" is an aboriginal word meaning "water breaking over rocks" with the area being home to a number of Aboriginal tribes before the European settlement. The beginnings of the suburb go back to 1809 and by the 1830's seabathing was a popular activity in Sydney despite being officially banned between 9am and 8pm, but It wasn't until the 9th of June, 1882 Bondi officially became a public beach.
In the mid 1850's buses began to run to the eastern suburbs of Sydney but transport beyond there was by horse and cart or by foot. In 1905 an electric tram service between Bondi Junction and the city was established, with the first electric tram journey down to Bondi Beach in 1906. In 1933 the State Government took over running bus services to Bondi Junction.
Just to make it official and confirm that Bondi is still one Australia's most beautiful beaches, it was added to the National heritage list in 2008, along side Australian places such as Uluru, Kakadu and the Sydney Opera House.
Established on 21st of February 1907, Bondi Life Saving Club is the oldest life saving club in the world, surf life savers patrol the beach daily warning tourists and locals to swim between the red and yellow flags at all times.
Wander down to the Bondi Baths and Icebergs Club at the southern end of the beach, these were built in the late 1880's by Waverly Council and became home to the Icebergs Club which was formed in 1929 by a group of dedicated local lifesavers trying to maintain their fitness during the cold winter months. The Bondi Icebergs Club is the only licensed winter swimming club in the world and the clubs season begins every year with a tonne of ice being dumped into the already brisk pool water. To become an Iceberg member is not taken lightly (currently 600),you have to swim 3 Sundays out of 4 from May to September (Winter) for 5 years.
Places of interest in Bondi
Bondi Lifesaving Club
Established as Bondi Surf Bathers Life Saving Club in 1907, it is officially the world's oldest surf life saving club. A big part of surf history in Australia it is definitely a destination to mark down on the tourist map, the Club leads the way in a number of rescue operations performed and is at the forefront of Australian Surf Life Saving for its production of new technologies to keep the surf safe, well worth a visit if your in the area.
Built in 1928, this iconic building was known as "the playground of the pacific", where people met socially to soak in the Turkish baths and danced in the ballroom. These days it is a charming, albeit slightly derelict venue, which plays house to film and drama festivals adding to the arts-mix of Bondi Beach Australia. The building is situated right up from the beach and has an exhibition gallery and outdoor Amphitheatre, but is also very popular with tourists and locals taking advantage of its free changing rooms and showers.
Bondi Baths and Iceberg Club
Fast becoming the most famous ocean bath in Australia, Bondi Icebergs Club has become an institution for Sydneysiders, with swimmers lapping the "bogey hole" since 1927. Located on Bondi Beach's southern edge, the 50 meter Olympic pool and smaller kids pool are very popular with locals and tourists alike and is a great option for those who aren't as comfortable with swimming in the ocean, with fully qualified lifeguards patrolling the pool during operating hours.
A constant bustle of activity, Campbell Parade is the main drag of Sydney's Bondi Beach and is a thriving cosmopolitan centre for shopping, eating and drinking. Spanning the entire length of the strip are lively restaurants, cafes, hotels and holiday apartments. As well as great shopping and food you can also pick up some great bargains at the Bondi markets, situated North of Campbell Parade in Bondi Public School. Campbell Parade is a hot spot for entertainment with weekends usually playing host to anything from local live music to street performers throughout this travellers paradise.
Bronte House is a historic, Gothic style cottage, completed in 1845 and is one of the oldest buildings in the eastern suburbs of Sydney. This private residence is open to the public regularly during the year and it is highly recommended for any garden enthusiasts with a worldwide praised 19th century English Garden. Visitors wanting to observe the house's rare and colourful plant species and enjoy the native birds will pay $8 for adult entry, $4 for concession and kids are allowed in for free. Bronte House is located at 470 Bronte road, Bronte.
Anzac Parade received its name, not so surprisingly, in commemoration of the Anzac soldiers, who marched through the street to the harbour before departing Sydney in WWI. For those who are eager to see some of Eastern Sydney's attractions, Anzac Parade borders Paddington, where you'll find the very popular Paddington Markets and Surry Hills, home to a range of off-beat designer and vintage clothing stores. The Sydney landmark also passes through Kensington, Kinsford, Maroubra, Matraville, Malabar, Chifely and Little bay before ending at La Parouse.
Just a few minutes from Bronte Beach on the way over to Coogee, is the Waverley Cemetary. A 40 acre cliff top grave yard overlooking the ocean with the VIP residents laid to rest here having one of the best views of any cemetery in the world. It might not seem like your usual touristic activity but the ornate Victorian and Edwardian graves are worth exploring. Be on the lookout for Henry Lawsons grave, a pioneer of Australian bush poetry, as well as the Irish Memorial in commemoration of the 1789 Irish Rebellion. Don't be suprised to come across personal trainers and group exercise classes running through the grave yard!
Festivals and special events in Bondi
Festival of the Winds
The Festival of the Winds is one of Sydney's most colourful spring festivals, it's a kite flying festival which promises to be a great day out for the whole family. Colourful cartoon characters, giant inflatable animals and flowers, fighter kites, box kites, delta kites and more make the skies come alive over Sydney's most famous beach. See great flying skills and wonderful hand-made creations from Australian and international kite flyers in a competition with winners announced at 3pm on the day. The festival also has food stalls from all over the world, free dance workshops, children's rides, kite making workshops, activities, roaming entertainment, puppet shows and art exhibitions in the Bondi Pavilion Gallery. The event is held every year in mid-September with the festival of the Winds exhibition running for two weeks in the Bondi Pavilion Gallery.
The Sun Herald City to Surf
Since its humble beginning in 1971 when there were just over 2000 entrants, with inspiration for the event coming from the San Francisco Bay to Breakers. The City to Surf has become the biggest fun run in the southern hemisphere attracting 85,000 entrants in 2011, people from all walks of life take part in this community event. The covers a total of 14km in distance, starting in Sydney's CBD heading through the tunnel at Kings Cross, through Rose Bay and Dover Heights before finally finishing at famous Bondi Beach.
The Bondi markets were established in 1993 and run every Sunday in the beachfront grounds of Bondi public school. In this market you'll find original designer and vintage clothing, handmade jewellery, art and craft. On Saturday there is a farmers market from 9am-1pm serving up fresh local produce and rustic, home style products sold by those who farm and make them. The Bondi markets have become known as a place where up and coming designers come to hopefully be discovered and launch their career, making it a great place to find an original designer item before the big stores slap their exuberant price tags on them.
Sculptures by the Sea
Sculptures by the Sea is an outdoor art celebration staged along the Bondi to Tamarama coastal walk and features sculptures and art installations by some of Australia's most recognized artists. This spectacular strip of coastline is transformed into an outdoor sculpture park taking advantage of the areas natural plinths' and rocky outcrops where sculptures of all descriptions are carefully and thoughtfully installed to compliment their environment and play with your imagination. The pieces are individually inspired and created for each Position on the 1.5 km walk transforming this already beautiful cliff top walk into an amazing outdoor gallery overlooking the Pacific Ocean, so don't forget your camera. The exhibition runs for two and a half weeks through October and November, this is one not to be missed, check out our events calendar for details.
Bondi Bergstation Winter Festival
This winter festival captures the feeling of alpine winter atmosphere with activities like ice-skating. An outdoor ice-skating rink is built in front of the beach, measuring 800 square meters, one of the country's biggest outdoor ice-skating rinks. Gourmet winter cuisine from around the globe is available with food stands serving winter food from various regions and an alpine ski lodge with a bar serving up hot and cold beverages. If you are visiting Sydney during June-July it's worth seeing the city's most famous beach transformed into a winter wonderland.
Beaches near Bondi
Tamarama beach washes up the trendiest of Sydney locals, pressed up cheek to cheek on the perfectly white sand. This beach might be small but it is one of the most beautiful city beaches in Sydney and although care should be takes when the current is strong, it's not to be missed if your visiting the Bondi area.
The sound of waves crashing to the shore is Bronte's theme tune with beach a popular spot for body boarders and body surfers. For those who are looking to escape the scorching summer sun, an adjacent park offers the perfect relief, with picnic, barbeque and shade facilities. Famous for the Bondi to Bronte walk, stop off at the strip of cafes in the main street of Bronte beach and you'll find a delightful mix of super slick cafes, fresh juice, salads and sandwich bars. Be sure not to miss a dip in the Bronte Baths down the southern end of the beach.
Set in Sydney's Eastern Suburbs, Coogee Beach is a haven for families and children, with lush parklands, play areas and a sheltered coastline keeping the waves as mellow as the local beachy vibe. Also a popular spot for the bigger kids, the Coogee Bay Hotel offers beachfront views, seven bars (including Sydney's largest beer garden) and live bands. Coogee Beach boasts a strip of vibrant cafes, restaurants and fish and chip shops, holding true to Sydney's traditional surf scene, minus the glitz and glam of its surrounding neighbours.
Gordons Bay is a popular scuba-diving spot as it is Sydney's only underwater nature trail (500 meters long). Located between Clovelly and Coogee Beach, this secluded bay flourishes in exceptional flora and fauna, making it a natural haven with its variety of marine life.
Train is the quickest way to get to Bondi from Sydney's Central Business District and will save you about 30 minutes compared with a bus trip from the city.
From the city get on at Central, Town Hall or Martin Place stations on the Eastern Suburb line all the way to Bondi Junction (10 minutes).
From Bondi Junction take any of the following buses (380, 381, 382, L82) to Bondi Beach, a15 minutes trip. (Any A1 bus from Bondi junction is only going to Bondi Beach).
From Bondi Junction and the City there are buses every 5 minutes during the day (starting 6am-9pm), at 15 minute intervals later in the evening (9am-1am) and every 30 minutes during the night.
The recommended route from the city is route 333 and is pre-pay bus only. Buy your ticket at one of the kiosks at Circular Quay or from any news agency. Not necessary with travel pass or other travel passes (check your details).
Note; Bus from Circular Quay takes about 40 minutes.
From Sydney's CBD Drive down Oxford Street, Oxford will change to Enfield Drive and then later becomes Bondi road, follow this down to Bondi beach.
Transport from Sydney Airport Bondi Beach
Trains from Sydney Airport arrive at Central Station, make sure you change to Bondi Junction, then take the bus for the next 3 km to Bondi Beach.
Taxis from the Airport to Bondi Beach cost around $40 (25 minutes), direct shuttle buses from the Airport cost around $15.
Photo Credits: State Records NSW (Photo 1), Hamilton Lund-Destination NSW (Photos 2, 4, 5, 7, 9 & 10), Laila Lomba Moraes (photo 3), Sally Mayman-Destination NSW (Photo 8),