I had flown to Sydney, with the standard tourist ideas in mind: visit the opera house, the royal botanic gardens, and take a train to see the 3 sisters of Katoomba. But as luck would have it, I met with an old schoolmate who regaled me with ideas of what to do in Sydney, especially off-the-beaten track.
And one of those was the Bondi to Coogee walk. Not so off-the-beaten track for the locals, but a definite must-do for a tourist. If I could set apart 2 to 3 hours of my time, that is.
Sydney is full of beaches. But no stretch of Sydney captures as many beaches of Sydney as the walk from Bondi beach to Coogee beach. It was roughly 6 KMs. But what the heck, I had plenty of time on my hands and had seen enough of the touristy stuff in Sydney. So, I took the bait, and boarded bus 333 from Circular Quay to Bondi beach.
There was no turning back now.
The aboriginal word ‘Bondi’ refers to the noise of water breaking over rocks. And nobody could have named it better, as the first sights that you see were the surfers catching the waves. They seem to have forgotten that this was July, Australia’s winter season. But heck, they’re Aussie mate! What was I even expecting?
Bondi beach itself was a lot of fun, as I found myself spending a good hour here even before I could start the walk. (Sorry, G-maps!). I was first trying to find a cafe with some wifi so that I could post something on instagram, the wannabe hipster that I am. But turns out none of the cafes had wifi. Then, a good lady at one of the cafes informed me something that I really wasn’t expecting. There was free wifi on bondi beach.
Yep, right on the beach!
As I finally starting my walk along the beach, I realised that there were quite a few things to see in Bondi beach itself, even before the walk was completely underway. The Bondi park is an vibrant mix of people and artworks, and has a small skate park tucked to its eastern end. The Bondi skate park offers a kaleidoscopic view of the local skate culture, with kids doing high leaps and fancy tricks.
And a short distance away, is the iconic icebergs pool. Icebergs is also a restaurant and bar, but the most captivating sight here is the swim club with an open pool, like an infinity pool, but you barely notice when the pool ends, and the ocean begins. An entry into the pool costs about AUD7, in case you decide to take a quick jump into the waters.
Mark has a Park, and Mackenzie has a Point
From the Iceberg pool, a concrete waterfront runs through Notts Avenue and Wilga street, all the way to Mark’s Park, situated on a headland which juts into the water almost like it is craving to be cuddled. God bless the soul who had the right mind to place a few benches on the top of the park, because I spent a good 10 minutes chilling at one of those benches and enjoying a sandwich that I had kept away in my travel-bag.
Mark’s park itself is located at the end of a headland that is named Mackenzie’s point. This part of the walk is visually stunning, as you walk beneath some jaw-dropping hanging rocks, all the while getting a splendid view of North Bondi.
A little further, there is a naturally formed cove and a little inlet, again named after Mackenzie. Unlike the other beaches on this stretch, Mackenzie bay is not really a swim-friendly place, thanks to the massive rocks everywhere, and the rough waves. But the Turquoise-tinged waters of the South Pacific, make this another spot where one could take a pause for a while.
After walking through some tumultous rock formations, the sight of soft, powdery white sand, was a welcome distraction!
Once you pass the Tamarama SLSC (Surf Lifesaving Club), and see the sight of a small beach sandwiched between 2 rocky headlands, you know you are in Australia. After all, such extremes are only possible down under! Maybe it was due to the winter season, but Tamarama beach itself had very few folks, apart from a few crazy surfers who battled the winds and winter on their boards. But the Tamarama beach park was alive with kids and parents running around or just picnicking away.
Yet, this beach is not as busy as Bondi for sure.
Both a swimming and a surfing spot, Bronte beach was not as empty as Tamarama. There were a few people who wet their legs in the water, and some brave-souls who were surfing. But once again, most of the people were hanging out at the Bronte Park, a large swath of grass and picnic grounds.
The beach itself was next to a large headland, with some tough looking rocks. And cradled behind those rocks, are the Bronte Baths. Much like the iceberg pool from Bondi, Bronte Baths is a pool too, albeit man-made. Right next to it, there is a natural pool formation also, although the size was a little bit small for an adult man like me.
Waverley and Gordon’s Bay
Continuing the walk from Bronte beach, I was soon facing one of the most beautiful cemeteries in the world.
More than 130 years old, Waverley Cemetery is one of the most interesting places of historical interest in Sydney. There are an abundant number of historical graves here, including the poet Henry Lawson. With the sunset slowly encroaching upon me, the sun cast a beautiful halo behind some of the gravestones, and I realised that this was also a photographer’s feel-good zone.
I continued my walk, determined to reach Coogee before nightfall. Just before Clovelly beach, there was a magical sight ahead of me. A hidden oasis, Gordon’s bay!
The beach itself is really small at Gordon’s bay. But what makes it beautiful are 2 things, one outside the water, and the other inside. Rows of unused boats lined the beach, almost creating the illusion of an amphitheatre forged into a fishing town. And in the water, the famous Gordon’s bay underwater trail. I didn’t have the appropriate temperature nor the textiles to dive into this water today, but I knew there was 600 metres of a self-guided scuba or snorkelling trail here, thanks to the protection of an offshore reef.
Finally!! Coogee at nightfall!
A short walk from Gordon’s bay, and I was at the legendary Giles bath, a natural rock pool that was known to many Sydney hipsters that I met on my travels. The sun was already setting, so there were no swimmers here today. Even if they were, I can imagine their plight, getting thrown around by the rough waves into the rocks strewn around the place.
And that was it. After the Giles bath, I was already in Coogee beach! It had taken me close to 4 hours (sorry google maps, you are not always right!) and I barely covered 6 kms in that time. Was the track that tough? Hell, no! It was one of the most leisurely walks that I have ever taken.
So leisurely, that I often ended up stopping at different places for a clickathon, and staying there for anything from 5 to 30 minutes each.
And if you ended up doing this walk, I can guarantee you that you will do the same too!
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