Bondi Beach and a Seaside Walk
Even if you are only in Sydney for a short time, you can take a pleasant and inexpensive day trip out to Bondi Beach (pronounced Bon die) and have a delightful, peaceful walk along a rocky seacoast, perhaps seeing some whales in season, all within 45 minutes of the Central Business District. The area is very kid-friendly and the trip is highly recommended.
The only (minor) hassle is getting there, which for most folks will involve a train and a bus ride. If you have more money than time, an expensive bus called the Bondi Explorer will whisk you from central Sydney directly to the beach area, albeit for about A$25 an adult in 2004. To be fair, the bus does stop along the way and has an all-day hop on and hop off policy. However, unless you feel the need for much hopping, pass on this.
Instead, take the train a few stops out to Bondi Junction, about 15 minutes ride from downtownish. Despite the name, this is not where you want to spend any time. Instead, walk upstairs to the bus terminal and check the monitors for the buses to Bondi Beach proper. The ride should take about 20 minutes. The bus may be numbered 380 or 382 or L82 with the destination showing North Bondi, Dover Heights, Watsons Bay or Bondi Beach.
Weekends the bus may be crowded a bit. Don't worry, you will know when to get off the bus as everyone else will also get off the bus, plus you can see the beach.
You can read more about getting to and from the beach by public transportation here.
We'll do this as a walking tour, beginning at the beach pavilion. The pavilion has lots of area in front to run around in, plus the kids can play there. A few shops sell drinks, snacks and beach stuff, but if you want a meal perhaps the restaurants just behind the pavilion on the main road offer more choices at better prices. There is a nice cafÃƒÆ’Ã†'Ãƒâ€š© with tables overlooking the beach perfect for coffee or a snack. Watch out for the very aggressive birds seeking a share of your snack.
The beach is splayed out in front of you in its glory, a beautiful half moon shaped swath of sand. In the warm weather you'll see the famous Bondi beach life guards in their R-rated speedos and a billion swimmers and surfers. In the cold months insane people will still be surfing, in wetsuits, but still in the darn water nonetheless. The sand is clean and the kids can enjoy themselves.
Facing out to sea, look off to the left for a tall smokestack in the mid-distance. Some so-so Aboriginal carvings are located near there, but it is a heck of a walk with kids, so just tell people at home you saw them and brag anyway.
After enough beach fun and weighed down with sand in your shoes, it is time to start walking.
Again facing the sea, head off to your right. You'll see a cliff and a hotel/restaurant. Head there.
The hotel is supposedly a trendy spot but does not really look it, more low rent South Beach really. The big attraction for us to gaze it is the salt water pool, shown below. This is just a pool, constantly refilled by the ocean waves sweeping over and into it. You get all the benefits of a pool (flat bottom, sides, limited waves) with ocean water.
Continue onward (and upward) to the look out point ahead. The path here is about the steepest part of the walking tour. If this seems too rough for your baby care needs, the hotel is a good place to stop. If you can manage these stairs and a few lower ones later, the rest is very smooth. The path is paved the whole distance we'll take you today. Toilets and water are available at the different beaches along your path but are not plentiful or altogether clean.
The look out point is where, in season, some folks have seen whales and dolphins in the distance. We didn't see any of those, but the kids were fascinated to stare out looking for awhile, and we did see some beautiful sailboats and a giant container ship, which were cool. There are gorgeous photo ops with the rocky coast in the background and unless the kiddies are doing handstands on the edge, it is quite safe.
Continuing to walk, a bit downhill now, you will soon come to Tamarama Beach. At the back of the beach you will see a picnic area, with barbeques and children's play equipment. This is a nice place to stop for awhile, and your kids can mingle, fight and interact with those already playing on the swings. There is a small food/snack stand and restrooms nearby as well. Even if it is swimming weather the currents here can be rough, so caution is advised for young swimmers.
The beach, in the warm months, is also known as “Glamarama” due to the extraordinary number of buff and bikinied fab people who hang out there. If thongs are not for you or your family, you may want to bypass this area except in the cooler months, when reason and full body wetsuits prevail.
If your feet are holding up, keep walking and discover a continuing string of gorgeous beaches in the miles ahead (next is Bronte Beach, and another mile or so later is the well-known Coogee Beach). In the warm months Bronte is known as a family place, but it was cold when we were there and no families were out. The walk is beautiful regardless of whether you swim or not, and at any point you should be able to find a taxi, or simply reverse course and head back.