Thursday, 14 April 2016

#39 - Bondi Beach

This seems slightly controversial to me.  Bondi beach at number 39?  It is usually one of three absolute must-sees on any new visitors first trip to Sydney, along with the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge.  And yet it doesn't even make the top 30?  Surely there must be some mistake?

I so nearly managed to take this without getting the top of Lisa's head in it
Well, there is no mistake, and I think there are good reasons for Bondi being further down the list.  It remains a must see, and I would definitely have it on my list if I was going to Sydney for the first time.  It's just that sometimes, you really want to see things, even if they're not quite as good as you want them to be.

The home of Bondi Rescue - a truly outstanding Australian reality show based on the lifeguards at Bondi Beach
Now, just to clarify, Bondi is an excellent beach.  There is a reason it gained its place as Australia's, if not the world's, most famous beach.  It is a huge expanse of fine, soft sand.  The crashing waves are reliable and picturesque, and the surrounding cliffs and rocks give both a spectacular frame, and a beautiful viewing platform.  It has all the amenities you could want within a short walk, and despite the lack of a train station (Bondi Junction train station is a good 40 minute walk away), it is easy to get to by bus.  It has a lovely pool in the rocks beside the beach, which allows you to swim in relative safety, and it has one of the best lifeguard patrols you will find anywhere in the world for those that want to take to the waves, either by surfboard or otherwise.  It even has an ice rink next to the beach in the winter.

Ice skating?  At Bondi Beach?  Yep, only in the winter though
This all sounds awesome, and is doing nothing for my assertion that it is no surprise to see Bondi a bit further down the list.  Well, the biggest problem Bondi has is that it is a victim of its own awesomeness.  It is almost constantly crowded and busy.  Expect screaming, shouting, people playing music, throwing balls or frisbees around - basically having fun.  Sickening.  

They do a great job of cleaning up after people, but with so many people, don't be shocked to see the occasional crisp wrapper or cigarette butt amid the beautiful sand.  The bus to and from Bondi can also be a bit of a nightmare at peak times.  Expect big queues, and getting squashed in with your head buried in some sweaty surfer's armpit.  

This is about as quiet as I've ever seen Bondi Beach - I guess people don't want to sunbathe in the rain
Finally, despite having many of the qualities anyone would look for in a beach, it also happens to be in an area with an abundance of great beaches.  Bondi is excellent, but beaches like Bronte, Clovelly, Camp Cove, Chinaman's Beach, Balmoral and Shelley Beach to name a few, offer similarly spectacular settings, but with generally lighter crowds.  I wouldn't take it off your list, but just be aware that it will be busy and crowded - if that's how you like it, then you'll love it.

Do you think Bondi deserves to be higher up?  Or do you think it doesn't deserve its reputation as the most famous beach in Sydney?  Join the debate and leave a comment below.

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