The Bondi to Coogee walk is one of the most iconic routes in Sydney. At 6km in length it packs an impressive amount of scenery in such an easily accessible trail. When my mom’s friend came to Sydney for the first time, I immediately knew this was the best way to start the day.
The walk traditionally starts in Bondi and ends in Coogee, but it can be done either way or in sections. Before starting the trail we stopped for breakfast at an outdoor café in Bondi. After our meal we sipped tea and watched the sunblock and beach towel-toting crowds pour in. Over the weekend the trail is inundated with thousands of sunbathers, joggers, families and tourists. It’s a little bit quieter during the week, but in summer the crowds are ever-present.
The walk starts on the southern end of beach overlooking the Bondi Baths. This iconic saltwater pool first opened over a hundred years ago. Its dramatic location along the cliff is hard to beat and only costs $6 for entry into the pool.
From Bondi the trail heads up and around the Hunter Park peninsula and mustard colored sandstone cliffs. Blue waves splash against the coast and the plants that cling to their precarious real estate are verdant and flowering.
The trail winds around the hot beach sand and volleyball courts of Tamarama Beach and continues on to Bronte Beach. Bronte is at the base of a grass-covered hill that families and picnickers flock to. In summer the southern side of the beach has a small kid’s train and Zorb ball rentals. The three of us stopped for a drink at the beachside café and take in the view from under the shade of the trees.
After our break we continue through the Waverly Cemetery, which must have one of the most stunning views in the world. The peaceful hillside is dotted with weather-worn marble and bright yellow flowers.
Around this point in the trail Barret spotted a splash and the tip of a whale’s tail dipping below the sapphire water. We scanned the ocean for a few more minutes but did not see the whale resurface.
Clovelly Bay, our next destination, is one of my favorites. The beach itself is very small, but the narrow bay has a concrete ledge built along both sides for sunbathing and easier access into the bay. We bought ice cream and watched people jumping in and out of the water. My favorite sunbather was there with his newspaper, tanning his skin into a tough leathery hide.
When the waves are more aggressive, the ocean water rocks above and below the concrete platforms and the whole thing reminds me of a kid sliding in a giant bathtub. Clovelly Bay is also a fun place to snorkel.
Of all the sights along the walk, Gordons Bay is one of the quietest destinations. It attracts snorkelers, divers, paddle boarders and fishers. Its tiny patch of beach is mostly covered with overturned fishing boats and out in the bay is a 600 meter underwater trail marked with concrete drums and steel plaques.
Coogee Beach is the last stop on the walk and is the second largest beach after Bondi. From here the three of us headed for the unconventional yet thoroughly Australian pastime of lawn bowling. Like all bowling clubs in Sydney, you have to be a member to use the facility if you live within a certain distance from the club. If you live further out you just have to sign the membership register.
There was a busy bar, pokies in the back, and a table covered in meat trays for the weekly meat raffle. From the small, dark ‘Bowls Secretary’ office we picked up a bag of lawn bowls and headed outside. The grass was warm from the sunny day and most of the lawn bowling groups were off the side of the field drinking.
The weighted balls flew down the lawn as the tired sun set and after the girls were declared the incomparable winners, we headed over to a local pub for dinner. I don’t think we could have gotten more Australian if we tried. The Bondi to Bowling walk is not exactly well known, but I think I’m on to something here.
About: The Bondi to Coogee Walk
About: Bondi Baths
About: Scuba diving in Gordans Bay
How to get to the Marrickville Bowling Club: 91 Sydenham Road, Marrickville NSW 2204