Posted by: Nick Ward | 27 April, 2010

A Bondi Beach Blog

Yesterday was a good day. Firstly, it was a public holiday, and, well, that just makes it feel good from the start. Secondly, I went to the beach.

Now, when in Sydney I live in Paddington, which for those who don’t know the place very well is kind of on the eastern side of the inner city. It’s a 15 minute walk to the CBD. At a trot.

Anyway, I decided to walk to the beach. Now the reason the City to Surf Run is so well known is because the city isn’t right next to the surf. If it was, it wouldn’t be much of a challenge, would it. According to my Nokia Navigator (love my gadgets) it’s a 5.95km walk. Approximately. For those who are curious, it’s 8.04km from the GPO to Bondi Beach. Also approximately. Luckily, I love a good walk on a sunny day, and it was a sunny day.

So off I headed up Oxford Street, through Paddington shops, past Centenial Park, and on to Bondi Junction. Don’t be fooled by the name, there’s nothing beachy about Bondi Junction. It’s all about the Junction. Fairly impressive shopping centre mind you, could have been lifted straight off Orchard Road in Singapore, but at the end of the day it’s just a place to go shopping. Or buy a pie. I did the latter.

Re-fueled for the remaining trip to the beach, off I headed. In actual fact it’s not a bad walk at all from Bondi Junction to Bondi Beach. Mostly downhill, and fairly generously endowed with shops, it’s worth a wander.

As you come round the final bend in the road with the beach laid out before you, I must say, it’s kinda special. The houses which cluster along the hilltops wouldn’t be out of place in Mediterranean Europe. Well, if Mediterranean Europe had most of it’s dwellings built during the 1930s, at least. It’s a deco paradise – and I love deco.

Heading for a bit of a stroll along the shopfronts is neither here nor there really. Unsurprisingly it’s pretty touristy. A few souvenir shops selling Australian (Colonial) Flag Towels and bus tickets (which song was it that talked about the Bondi Bus?), restaurants which could equally be good or woeful, and a pub or two.

Now, I did locate a very decent local coffeeshop, but I talked about that in yesterday’s blog. And I reckon at least one of the fish and chip places must be decent. There’s enough of them. Question is, which one?

Food and coffee dealt with and having had a bit of an explore up a few of the side streets that run off the beach, I crossed the road.

Now, Melbourne has beaches. The best ones are facing the ocean, a hundred or so kilometres from Melbourne city. The bay beaches are nice when the winds are blowing the right way (or not blowing) and they’re free of seaweed and the pollution that a city of Melbourne’s size produces, but they’re hit and miss. And the water’s cold – hell, on the other side of the body of water lining Victoria’s beaches is Antarctica.

I’d forgotten how much warmer the Pacific is than the Southern Ocean. There was a cool breeze, but it certainly wasn’t cold for this time of year. I walked along the beach in the shallows and the water felt like a warm bath. Fantastic!

The waves were pretty decent and surfers were out in force, kitted out in the newest most fashionable Rip Curl wetsuits. Tell you something they’ve discovered in Torquay, and that is that the surf industry has discovered that rubber and fashion can in fact mix. These were superbly fitted affairs which wouldn’t have been out of place on Batman. Bit different to the functional things we all wore when I was a kid.

I’m a bit of a body surfer, and the temptation was there to head straight out into the swell and catch a few waves, but by this time it was starting to get dark and I thought better of it. The water’s warm but the air when you get out is less so. Didn’t stop a fair swag of swimmers from continuing their antics without any protection from the elements, doing backflips into the approaching surf and dodging the incoming surfers, but I figured I could leave that for another day.

It was all pretty special, I must admit. Felt more like I was on holiday than that I was in my new city and walking distance (yes, at a stretch) from where I lived. Just so lovely and warm and salty and, well, just beachy.

I’m adventurous, but also practical, and I did the journey back on the bus (yes, the Bondi Bus). Crowded, but painless to say the least, getting me to my door in probably about 20 minutes.

Arriving home I messaged a friend who’d mentioned he had got involved in lifesaving since his arrival from Melbourne a year ago.

“So, what’s the go with this lifesaving thing…?”

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