Bondi Beach is one of Australia’s iconic destinations – and no wonder. Only a ten minute drive from the heart of the city, this is a Goldilocks-size beach (not too big, not too small, just right) with a kilometre of beach-side promenade peppered with cafes, restaurants, a playground and plenty of people watching opportunities.
Before European settlement, Bondi – which is an Aboriginal word meaning water breaking over rocks – was home to the Aboriginal Eora tribes and the site of the discovery of ‘Bondi points’, early stone tools that were used for spears and knives.
Although Sydney was settled by Europeans in 1788, Bondi Beach only became a public beach in 1882. At that time swimming at Sydney’s beaches was officially banned between the hours of 09.00 and 20.00. The law was ‘relaxed’ in 1903 and by the 1930s Bondi Beach – advertised as the ‘Playground of the Pacific’ – was drawing visitors from around the world.
These days, Bondi is Sydney’s most popular beach with as many as 40,000 people stopping by on a hot day. It also plays host to a wealth of festivals, markets and events, which makes this an easy win for all the family
Bondi is home to one of the world’s oldest surf lifesaving clubs, as well as The Bondi Icebergs Club, the only licensed winter swimming club in the world, where children and families are welcome to swim in the seaside pool ($6 entry) and dine at the uber-cool club (kids welcome til 20.00).
Situated directly on the beach, Bondi Pavilion is another Sydney icon with a colourful history dating back to 1928 when it was used for balls and social occasions. Nowadays, it is the cultural hub of Bondi with a theatre, gallery, music studios, art and pottery studios, a screening room and halls for hire for regular classes, workshops, festivals, events and functions.
Beyond the beach, the promenade and the pools, each Saturday, Bondi Beach Public School hosts a Farmers Market from 09.00–13.00 and each Sunday a Boutique Market of designer goods and crafts from 10.00–16.00.
Why go Beautiful views, beautiful people and a beautiful day out as well as fabulous eateries, sun, sand and surf.
Who is it best for Families who like their beaches more urban than isolated. There are plenty of opportunities to enjoy the beach from a distance (and even from the safety of the shops and restaurants, if that’s your style). If it’s purely sea and sand you’re looking for, Sydney has a wealth of idyllic beaches that cater to every type of Day Out At The Beach.
Top tip If it is a sunny day, take plenty of sun-cover, from sun creams to sun shades. There is not a lot of shade across the beach itself, and Australia’s sun is unforgiving. Also only swim between the red and yellow flags, never outside them. If there are no flags, the beach is closed or unpatrolled.
Facilities Bondi Pavilion has all the facilities you’ll need from toilets and restaurants to a theatre space where there are often children’s shows playing.
Highlights for kids Not surprisingly, all that sand! For older kids (not to mention the parents), it could also be the weekly Sunday markets.
While you’re in the area With younger kids, take some time out at the playground; with older kids, do the Bondi to Tamarama Beach walk, which delivers incredible views (especially during the Sculpture by the Sea exhibition), not to mention plenty of fresh air and exercise.
EVENTS FOR THE DIARY
The Festival of The Winds (September)
This kite flying festival runs from 11.00 to 16.00 with a sky full of cartoon characters, giant animals, flowers, fighter kites, box kites, delta kites causing kids and adults alike to “oohhhhh and ahhhhhh” as they watch both Australian and international kite flyers showing off their skills. There is also a competition for the best handmade kite at 11.00 with winners announced at 15.00 on the day. And of course, you can join in and fly your own kite or make your own creation at one of the kite making workshops that run throughout the afternoon. There are food stalls, dance workshops, puppet shows – download a programme for this year’s event here.
Sculpture by the Sea (October/November)
Sculpture by the Sea is hosted along the spectacular two kilometre coastal walk between Bondi Beach and Tamarama Beach and features over 100 sculptures by artists from Australia and across the world. There is a $60,000 major prize and the award winning work is generally gifted to a gallery or set in a public space.
City to Surf Fun Run (August)
This popular fundraising run from Sydney’s CBD to Bondi Beach is the world’s largest running event. It covers 14 kilometres and is usually held on the second Sunday in August starting at 10.00 and finishing with picnics and festivities at Bondi.
To locate the right eating joint for you and your family, take a look at the Bondi Eating Out website, and let us know your own favourites to include in our Sydney City Guide.