Sydney is one of my favourite cities. She may be on the other end of the world from a lot of major destinations, and her relative remoteness is a red flag for me moving back, but there are sights and sounds which remind me why I still love her. Her coasts and beaches are an obvious, and the Bondi to Coogee Walk highlights these perfectly.
City to Surf
There are many ways to start the Bondi to Coogee Walk, though my favourite would be a weekend stroll. Point to point, this would take 40 minutes, but where is the fun in that? Start with a nice brunch in Coogee and end with late afternoon drinks in Bondi. A fun 5 hours!
The easiest (and personally, the most efficient) way of getting there is identifying your start and end point. For me, I take the train from the City (Central or Martin Place on the T4 Eastern Suburbs Line) towards Bondi Junction. Bondi Junction is a large bus interchange for the Eastern Suburbs, and if you have not decided where to start your walk, this spot would be a good option to have a think-through and board the first bus you see.
From Bondi Junction, I take bus 313 or 314 towards Coogee. The 10-15 minute bus ride passes through nice examples of late Victorian/Sydney suburban architecture, leafy neighbourhoods and narrow-ish streets. The bus stops right at the beach. The promenade and shops along the beach road have a great selection of cafes and restaurants, with Coogee Salt, a short walk down the main street away from the beach, being a personal favourite.
If I had to rank my favourite Sydney beaches by number of visits, Coogee would be top, followed by Maroubra and Bondi. The beach has great distractions, from cafes to stunning cliff-side views. Plus, it is easy to get to and not as crowded as Bondi, but not as expansive as Maroubra. Yes, my Sydney days were beach-centric.
Walking along the beach promenade northwards, you will reach a nice park that ascends up to cliffs. This is the start of the Bondi to Coogee Walk, with beautiful public art installations beacons to your journey. Walk left and up the cliffs and you will be on your way to Gordon’s Bay, enroute to Bondi. Walk right and down, and you will be by the Coogee Rock Pool, with Rock Pools a defining feature of Sydney beaches.
The walk along the cliffs are truly dramatic, as you look down towards the Pacific Ocean, as the surf violently crashes against the rocks below: a sure disaster for boaters but a stunning view for those with a flair for the dramatic.
Gordon’s Bay is a small inlet, a spot for fishing but too small to either surf or lay in the sand. The next cove up, Clovelly Beach, is another deep inlet, a narrow and safe sound with a small beach but good conditions to practice your open water swims along the embankments with the surf rescue team perfectly positioned at the mouth of the inlet.
Surfing by the cliffs
It took me a while to figure out why Bali is such a destination for Australians. Apart from the obvious proximity of Bali to Australia, the close resemblance of the cliffs of Bali to the surf beaches of Bronte brought some perspective to this.
Due to coastal erosion, part of the Bondi to Coogee Coastal Walk became unstable, and as a result, the walk went through part of the Waverly Cemetery. There is something poignant about walking through these monuments and memorials, perched against the cliff, overlooking the Pacific Ocean.
Bronte Beach is one of the major surf beaches in Sydney, with a stunning setting amidst the cliffs. While it looks narrow, the rocky cliffs on either side frame the setting beautifully, as the mostly surfer crowds look out from the beach, waiting for the right time to hit the waves.
Continuing along the cliff walk, you will notice beautiful rock formations, including a section called the Tamarama Rocks. This rock formation, basically rocks overhanging a cliff, provides a beautiful vantage point to view sections of the Bondi to Coogee Walk, from Tamarama Beach onwards towards Mackenzies Point.
This is also a spot where the ‘daredevil’ images of Instagram are taken, with people standing on the ledge, seemingly on the overhang down towards the rocky cliffs and Pacific Ocean below.
The stunning rocky terrain and cliffs cause the coastal walk to hug as closely as possible, providing a beautiful view of Sydney, one which can easily make you fall in love with this beautiful ocean-side setting.
From Mackenzies Point, it is just a short walk towards Bondi, and you can easily recognize it by the sudden mass of humanity stopping at a particular cliff and rock formation. It is hard to get a bad picture of Bondi from this spot, the beach is just that photogenic.
Icebergs Club Bondi provides the perfect spot to end the Bondi to Coogee Walk, as you head up to the terrace to enjoy a much well deserved glass of cool white wine, watching the world pass by.
It is also a good spot to practice your open water swimming, by a practicality. The pool at Icebergs Bondi is fed by the ocean, as waves crash in to the edge of the pool, feeding it with fresh sea water, sand and a few waves.
While Bondi is crowded and is a destination beach, it is still filled with a myriad of characters, scenery and distractions, from street art on the promenade to the Bondi outdoor gym, from fancy boutiques to standard souvenir shops. It is also easy to get the bus back in to town, with a very regular, albeit crowded, bus service towards the City or Bondi Junction.
Transport: Take the T4 Eastern Suburbs Line towards Bondi Junction. At Bondi Junction, take bus 313 or 314 towards Coogee. Coogee stop is easy to find: it’s the one with the beach. Buses back from Bondi are plentiful. Just get on one which says ‘City’ for direct City service or ‘via Bondi Junction’ if you want to break your journey.
Opal Card: taking public transport regularly? Get an Opal Card. Readily available at the Airport Express train station and easy to top-up, this provides great value if you will be using the airport station more than twice in a week, reducing your airport station access fee. On Sundays, there is a cap on travel fare, meaning after taking the ferry to Manly for Sunday brunch, travel on the ferry, bus and train network is free all day!
Bondi to Coogee Coastal Walk: thirsty? Don’t worry. There are a lot of water fountains along the way, even if there are not many convenience stores along the walk.
Jason is a world traveller and avid seeker of high perches, on a mission to capture the unique experiences that makes destinations iconic.