On Xmas Day 2013 I got a cheap flight to Sydney for my first ever trip to Australia. I had grand plans of going on a road trip around the south-east but never quite made it and my friends in Melbourne still haven’t forgiven me.
The thing is once I got to Bondi I liked it so much (click on the first pic and you’ll see why) that I didn’t want to go anywhere else for the next four weeks! Everything I needed for a life of contentment was right there…
Most importantly, good food, and lots of it. My next post ‘Bondi Bites’ is entirely dedicated to reviews of all the places I ate during my stay.
Next of course, good wine was a major reason for me getting on the plane. I went to the legendary wine mecca Kemenys www.kemenys.com at 137-147 Bondi Road to stock up. Here’s a picture of a happy man.
One of the original wine retail outfits in the 60s, Kemenys have won the coveted ‘Australian Liquor Store of the Year’ award more than ten times since its inception in the 1994. If you can’t get it here, it’s probably not worth getting.
I went with a recent list of their top Aussie wines from www.bestwinesunder20.com.au, an excellent independent wine blog. Armed with this knowledge I got good service from the gruff old manager who I think warmed to me when I rejected his suggestions of French substitutes for the wines he was lacking and insisted on Aussie only.
I bought twelve bottles to take back to the pad on my first visit. They were all pretty good but the star of the stay for me was the Yealand Estate (A+), an award-winning, beautifully crisp and fragrant Sauvignon Blanc.
I couldn’t live anywhere that didn’t have a swimming pool and BB not only has a pool (at Icebergs private club www.icebergs.com.au at the southern end of the beach) but an outdoor, saltwater, Olympic-size pool with a great view! In fact it’s my favourite public pool in the whole wide world so far!
The salt water takes a bit of getting used to as your body is more buoyant and you have to change your style slightly. Sometimes on blustery days huge waves come over the seawall and wipe out the whole pool, leaving all the swimmers in a pile in the far corner! It’s all part of the fun.
Another bonus is that it’s not too busy because many people don’t realise that although Icebergs is a private members club, their pool is open to the public. You can see how busy it is by checking the online pool cam before you go. It’s worth checking as they do regularly drain the pool to remove all the flotsam and jetsam that’s been washed in.
The next best thing in terms of exercise is the coastal walk which stretches for several kilometers.
You could use it to go to the neighbouring beaches of Tamarama or Bronte for a change of scene. Bronte beach has its own small saltwater pool, hewn out of the cliffs by convicts for Victorian ladies to swim in.
I spent a few mornings running along here to blow the cobwebs away. The short dips and rises in the path are a killer though and I was always being overtaken by super-fit body beautifuls who ground my ego into the gravel! Once though I did manage to get to Clovelly which I think is about 5km there and back to North Bondi where I was staying.
Once though I did manage to get to Clovelly which I think is about 5km there and back to North Bondi where I was staying.
We wanted to walk to Coogee someday but never got round to it, mainly because the sun was just too hot. You have to be really careful in the sun here as there is no ozone layer to protect you. The Australian government has actually made it illegal to sell sun lotion with a factor lower than 50!
In my perfect world, after natural eye candy I also want some interesting buildings to look at and Bondi has some nice residential architecture, like these sugary Art Deco units along the north end of Campbell Parade.
Generally the feel of the seafront is very much that of an English seaside town, with Fish & Chip shops and pubs, it’s just that the weather is much better!
I love the wrought iron detailing on this first house though the painting must be a nightmare. In the second photo, the face made by the front door and windows tickles me. You should click on both to appreciate them fully.
Some other small blocks of flats on Hall Street made me feel like I was in London on a sunny day.
Accommodation in Bondi is expensive and hard to get. Luckily I rented a cheap room from a friend of a friend for a while and then spent a few odd days in a private room at Noahs Backpackers www.noahsbondibeach.com (as opposed to Bondi Backpackers) which was fine. There’s no luxury of any kind but there’s a great view from the roof, and it’s very handy for the pool and the coastal path. There’s a good breakfast place and a pub immediately under the hostel and handy shops nearby.
It’s also an excellent place to meet people from all over the world who are passing through, although the downside of that is that it’s pretty popular so you should book well in advance, especially for peak periods. You might strike lucky if you don’t have a booking though as they occasionally evict everyone when things get too messy!
So now for the food…