Sand, surf, sexy people...these are a few of Sydney's favourite things! And one of the best places to see them is along the staggeringly scenic Bondi-to-Coogee Clifftop Trail − a 5km, three-hour stroll that goes a long way towards explaining Sydney's love affair with the sea.
Like Ipanema and Venice, Bondi
is an iconic beach experience. This is where Sydney comes to see and be seen,
preferably wearing as little as possible (not an affirming place for those with
body-image issues). The constant procession of beautiful bods never fails to
Dunk yourself in the surf, or grab a bite to eat, a
bikini or some surfboard wax on Campbell Parade. For a gorgeous view of the big
sandy arc, wander out to Ben Buckler Lookout at the northern end of the beach.
A beacon on Bondi's southern side is the achingly hip Icebergs
swimming pool and restaurant − good for a swim or a ritzy lunch if you are
not keen on the surf. The Clifftop Trail kicks off just beyond Icebergs at the
end of Notts Avenue.
Tracking south, the blustery sandstone cliffs and
grinding Pacific Ocean could not be more spectacular: keep an eye out for
passing dolphins, whales and rubber-clad surfers.
Small but perfectly formed Tamarama
Beach (aka “Glamarama”) is next − a deep tongue of sand popular with the
generically good-looking. It is hard to picture now, but between 1887 and 1911
a rollercoaster looped out over the water here as part of an amusement park.
Further south, Bronte
is a steep-sided beach ‘burb, its bowl-shaped park strewn with picnic tables
and barbecues. The swimming here is good, as are the low-key, breezy eateries.
Bronte also lays claims to the oldest surf lifesaving club in the world (1903),
an iconic claim in the city that mythologized lifesavers well before David
Blanketing the cliff tops south of Bronte with views
to-die-for (literally), the gravestones of Waverley
Cemetery dazzle in the sunlight. Amongst the subterranean are famous writer
Henry Lawson and cricketer Victor Trumper. It is an engrossing (and strangely
un-creepy) place to explore, and during the winter you may be rewarded with the
sight of whales swimming offshore.
Continue south past the cockatoos and canoodling
lovers in Burrows Park to sheltered Clovelly
Beach, a family favourite. Fringed by concrete terraces, the beach here
feels more like a swimming pool − a great place to dust off your snorkel.
The trail continues past Gordon's Bay (one of Sydney’s
best shore-dive spots), then lands you smack-bang on glorious Coogee
Beach. Coogee is an Aboriginal word for rotting seaweed, but do not let
that deter you: the beach here is wide and handsome. Swagger into the beachside
Bay Hotel and toast your efforts with a cold lager, as the Pacific surges
up onto the sand, same as it ever was.
The quickest way to Bondi is by cab. Otherwise, take
the train to Bondi Junction then jump on a bus. Buses also link Coogee with
downtown Sydney. See www.131500.info for
fares and timetables.
The article 'Sydney by the sea' was published in partnership with Lonely Planet.