The City by the Sea

Sample some of the best Sydney has to offer by ambling along this 2.1-mile fantasyland of an urban trail.
Bondi to bronte coast walk
Sydney's Backyard Swimming Pool: Tamarama Beach, one of many coastal treasures along the walk (Leanne Mitchell)

Sometimes, when you're standing on the other end of the world, you do things backwards. At least that was my excuse for traversing the Bondi-to-Bronte coast in reverse. With another day of drizzle on the cards, Leanne, my Sydneysider photographer, and I grabbed a quick lunch at one of the quaint roadside cafes at Bronte, waiting to see if the weather would blow off. Miracle of miracles, by the time we finished our inexpensive sandwiches and costly fruit smoothies, the sun, the sun slipped out from the storm clouds. With weather finally on our side, we promptly settled and started out on the 2.1-mile coastal ramble.

First initiated as a state project in the 1930s, the Bondi-to-Bronte Coast Walk extends from Ben Buckler Point at the northern tip of Bondi Beach to the southern end of Waverley Cemetery just beyond Bronte Beach. From there you can continue south on to Coogee Beach and points beyond. The blacktop path takes you up and down gentle-grade cliffs overlooking the ice-blue South Pacific Ocean, past sandy beaches and rocky outcroppings, barbeque and picnic shelters, children's play areas and physical-fitness posts. On a sunny summer's weekend, the path becomes one of the most popular spots in the city, filled with joggers, bronzed sun worshipers, ambling lovers arm in arm. And it's easy to see why: walking from Bondi to Bronte (or vice versa) reveals Sydney at its most opulent and attractive, whether you're edging toward the lip of an austere cliff to look down on the raging sea or skipping across the sands of Tamarama Beach, rock hopping to avoid the crashing surf. And when you reach Mackenzies Point and breathe in the views—the sweep of Bondi Bay to the north, the serpentine lines of Mackenzies and Nelsons bays to the south, the infinite expanse of the cobalt sea stretching forever east—it's tough to tell if the slight imbalance in your legs is caused by the winds or just dumbfounded awe.

It took us just under three hours to walk from Bronte to Bondi and back, our speed dictated mostly by the weather. Sun? Stroll. Spitting rain? Pick up the pace. But Sydney's coastal walks aren't about doing it under a set time—if anything the experience invites you to toss your watch into the surf and stay for the entire day. Then again, you could spend a few days weaving together several of the city's other walks. Bondi to Bronte and then onto Coogee Beach, Rose Bay to Watson's Bay, the epic walk from Spit Bridge to Manly Beach, the maze of hiking paths in Sydney Harbour and Royal national parks—it's not checklist tourism, but if you're game for leaving the Opera House and the pubs for a little while, walks like Bondi-to-Bronte will unveil the most enduring and endearing aspects of Australia's oldest city, even if you do it backwards.

Access and Resources
Click here for more information on the Bondi-to-Bronte Coast Walk, including a downloadable map of the route, driving directions, and more.

Click here for information on Sydney Harbour, Royal, and 38 other national parks in and around Sydney.


Nathan Borchelt is the lead editor for Away.com

Published: 12 Nov 2004 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication

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