BONDI BEACH :: SYDNEY :: NEW SOUTH WALES
BONDI BEACH IS THE SURF BEACH OF SYDNEY, AND ONE OF THE CITY'S MOST STORIED PLACES. If you want to chill out on the sands, learn to surf from a pro or munch your way through some of Sydney's finest seafood, this is the place to go. For locals, Bondi means long lazy days under the sun and congested streets (warning: transport here sucks bigtime, there is no train line and parking can be a bitch. For foreign backpackers (Kiwis, Poms, Koreans) this is one of the party centers of Sydney and there have been some big parties held on the beach. The last time I visited Bondi (September 2004) I was amazed by the multicultualism of the place -- all the people speaking Greek and French on the bus, the number of Chinese. In fact, Bondi is one of the most popular places in Sydney for the booming backpacker population to set up shop, or set down roots, as you might say. Brits in particular seem to love Bondi.
BONDI MIGHT BE ONE OF THE MOST SWINGING PARTS OF SYDNEY THESE DAYS, BUT ACCORDING TO THE DestinAsian WEBZINE, IT HAS NOT ALWAYS BEEN SO. Writer Chris Kirkpatrick claimed that Bondi also has a Bohemian edge. Kirkpatrick wrote that in the 1920s, a new tram service, regular surf-lifesaving competitions, and the construction of the handsome Bondi Surf Pavilion transformed the suburb into Australia's most popular beach. By the 1970s, however, the working-class neighborhood had gone to seed and Sydney's beachlovers had moved on, to other great beaches such as Manly and Avalon. Bondi was abandoned to the surfies and to boozy RSL (Returned & Services League) clubs and to the ebb and flow of untreated sewage.
"How things change," Kirkpatrick wrote. "A decade or so ago, Bondi's water was cleaned up with the closure of the sewage outlet at the north end of the beach. So too was the procession of old Art Deco buildings along Campbell Parade, the neighborhood's beach-hugging esplanade. Seamy pubs and fish-and-chips shops have largely been replaced by hip cafes, restaurants, and boutiques, while a fresh wave of residents -- among them writers, artists, film-makers, and young executives looking for a laid-back alternative to the crush of the city -- have been drawn by the area's gentrification and its enduring village atmosphere." And of course, foreign backpacker have been pulled in as well. Especially British backpackers, although there are plenty of Japanese surfers in the water, and Koreans working at the bread shops. One of the many Brits to have passed through remarked: "Forget the backpackers, Bondi still has a rich range of indigenous tribes from beatnik surf-poets to ridiculous skateboarding rich boys and anorexic ex-soapstars. Lambrock (that's a restaurant) does eggs benedict on a croissant (mmm). Gusto on Hall Street and Sean's Panorama by the beach in North Bondi are also recommended."
I have to agree with Kirkpatrick when he says that Bondi is becoming Bohemian these days. I also have to agree with that nameless I've Been There Brit quoted below him, who says that Bondi is populated by a series of diverse urban tribes. When I used to live in the city, my favourite to come down from a Saturday night out was to drink and play pool at a Bondi bar whose name I have forgotten, with a guy whose name I do remember, Sal -- and I also remember they used to have a hip-hop night at the bar every Sunday.) Kirkpatrick mentions that Sydney's young film-makers have flocked to Bondi, and at the moment my friend Garnet, who dreams of being a movie director, lives on Campbell St with a commanding view of the "kilometer long crescent". But Garnet is not the kind of person you would living in any community close to you -- he is so passionate about making it in the film world, he once stole two 35mm cameras and led police on a two-chase across Europe, resisting arrest on numerous occasions. But enough about Garnet -- he will get his place on this Sydney City Guide soon enough, for he is one of the city's great characters! When it is told, that story will be called "BeWarehouse Downunder".
Anyway, first I want to give you a more detailed description of Bondi Beach and what you can do there!!
THINGS TO SEE
AS I SAID BEFORE, THERE IS MORE TO SYDNEY THAN JUST THE BEACH, BUT THE BEACH FEATURES FAIRLY PROMINENTLY IN THE ATMOSPHERE OF THIS PLACE. It is never very far away. Apart from swimming and lazing on the beach, here are a few other things you can do:
++-+ FESTIVALS. There are loads of festivals held at Bondi Beach. Last year my visit coincided with the annual Festival of the Winds, held on the second Sunday of September. This is Australia's largest and most exciting kite flying festival, featuring hundreds of kites of all shapes and sizes from local and international makers and flyers. This is just one festival out of many. For a more comprehensive list of Australian festivals and events, click here.
--+- SHOPPING. Street markets are all the rage in Sydney, and Bondi Beach has its share. The Bondi Beach Market is held every Sunday in the grounds of Bondi Beach Public School (phone 02/9398 5486). At nearby Bondi Junction, a market is held from 10am-5pm in the Oxford Street Mall (phone 016/288 907.) There is also a night market held at Roscoe Mall on Campbell Pde, Thrusday-Sunday, from 5pm. The goods here are mainly cotten wear, jewellery and leather.
++-+ NIGHTLIFE. The daylife in Bondi centers around the beach, as it rightly should. One Brit Downunder hinted at the problem when he wrote:
"Times move on, and now it seems like such old hat, but in September 2000, no-one was riding those fold-up scooters in the UK, or at most a handful. In Sydney they were all at it -- and not just the kids, adults too (not just the ones who wished they could carry that Limp Bizkit look off too). They have the weather for it though.
"Bondi Beach. The name conjures up lots of images. You think of miles of golden sands, surfers everywhere and Brits having barbies on Christmas day. Not all of that's true. Bondi beach is actually a lot smaller than you might imagine (although its sands truly are golden .. or at least they were while the Olympic visitors were in town). Surfers are there in their numbers, it's true -- we spent some time sat on those sands watching some of them make it look like the easiest thing to do, whilst others belly-boarded their way inland under the watchful eyes of instructors. While the surf's good though, so too is the wind and so we decided that we should leave Bondi for another day, given that it was on our doorstep and that the wind kept on blowing the damn sand in our faces!
"As for those barbies, yep, it's true that Brits abroad syndrome manifests itself at its worst on Bondi at Christmas. The climate is almost the opposite of the UK -- and so December 25th is a glorious day, but the beach parties are almost cliché now, and the locals have had enough. As we left to catch a bus into the centre (whatever that meant) we passed a nutter walking the length of Campbell Parade having a damn good conversation with himself."
HINTS FOR BACKPACKERS
SOME GENERAL HINTS FOR BACKPACKERS AND WORKING HOLIDAY MAKERS IN AUSTRALIA.
++-+ Australia is part of the Working Holiday Maker (WHM) visa scheme. This program provides opportunities for resourceful, self-reliant and adaptable young people to holiday in Australia and to supplement their funds through incidental employment. The visa allows a stay of up to 12 months from the date of first entry to Australia, regardless of whether or not you spend the whole time in Australia. Currently, Australia welcomes over 85,000 working holiday makers every year!
--+- Australia has reciprocal working holiday arrangements with 18 countries -- the United Kingdom, Canada, the Netherlands, the Republic of Ireland, Japan, Korea, Malta, Germany, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Cyprus, Italy, Belgium and France. Only applicants from these countries who are aged between 18 and 30 years and without dependent children are eligible to apply for a Working Holiday visa.
++-+ Citizens of the USA can obtain short term (4 month) working holiday visas under a pilot program that is operating while a reciprocal agreement is negotiated.
--+- If you have a working holiday visa, or are a student intending to work, you should obtain a tax file number (TFN). You can apply for this in person, or online at the Tax Office's website. If you start work before getting your TFN, you have 28 days to provide it to your employer. When you stop work, ask your employer for a payment summary showing your total income and the amount of tax withheld, as you will need this to complete your compulsory tax return.
++-+Temporary residents are able to access their retirement savings (superannuation) upon permanent departure from Australia. For more information please visit the Australian Taxation Office's website. --+- Backpacker jobs available in Australia include: Waiting in restaurants and bars, labouring and building work, shop assistant and retail jobs, nursing, nanny and cleaning services, office temping, fruit picking, and other farm work such as jackeroo'ing.
++-+ Those looking for work downunder should register with online employment services such as seek.com.au and mycareer.com.au.
The Harvest Trail Website is also good for jobseekers and provides information about harvest work opportunities, working conditions, transport and accommodation options in the key harvest areas around Australia.
WALK TO BRONTE BEACH
AT THE SOUTHERN END OF BONDI BEACH YOU CAN FOLLOW A WALK, AROUND THE ROCKS, TO BRONTE BEACH ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE HEADLAND. The walk takes about 30 minutes, and presents stunning views of the surging surf, sky and shore crowded with fine houses and apartments. On the way you pass the iconic Bondi Surf Club with its pools and the Icebergs restaurant.