No 6: Bondi Beach – 18 April 2010

Bondi, baby, Bondi — THE Sydney beach.  The one everyone has heard of.

When you look at it from the esplanade you think — jeez it’s crowded that doesn’t look like much fun but down on the sand the people-watching and people-listening makes the day.  Its a mini UN of sunbathers; we must have heard half a dozen languages.

Bondi is 16 kilometres (10 miles) from home.

Not surprisingly Wikipedia has a lot to say about Bondi but here’s a few key things — ‘bondi’ is an aboriginal word meaning either “water breaking over rocks” or “the noise of water breaking over rocks” or maybe “place where flight of nullas took place”.

Bondi was a working class suburb for most of the 20th century and the landing place for immigrants, especially Jews, from eastern Europe.  Jewish in-migration has continued in the 21st century with newer arrivals coming from Russia, South Africa and Israel.  When I need a good bagel, I go to Bondi; but it’s not like American Jewish food with delicatessens and whatnot — different people, who came from different places, at different times.  A good reminder of what an ethnically diverse group Jews can be.

Bondi Beach is in the Waverley Council LGA, the state district of Vaucluse (Gabrielle Upton, Liberal) and the federal division of Wentworth (Malcolm Turnbull, marginally (until he gets kicked out, takes the leadership again, or starts his own party) Liberal).

No 5: Blackwoods Beach – 28 March 2010

Blackwoods Beach was our first southern beach on this tour.  We visited just after sunrise on the morning I flew back into Sydney from the United States; Mitch collected me at the airport and we went directly to the beach.

Blackwoods is 28 kilometres (17.5 miles) from home.  It’s in Cronulla.  I think I’ll save talking about Cronulla for when we visit Cronulla Beach.  Let’s just say it’s a middle to upper middle class suburban neighbourhood which is home to predominantly multi-generation Australians of Anglo/Irish origins.

The morning of our visit to Blackwoods was quiet and peaceful.

I nearly felt bad that we might disturb this guy’s meditation but we too quietly enjoyed the rising sun.

After our dip it was time for a welcome-home breakfast at The Nun’s Pool Cafe: Awesome!

Blackwoods Beach is in the Southerland Shire LGA, the state district of Cronulla (Mark Speakman, Liberal) and federal division of Cook (Scott Morrison, Liberal).


No 3: Basin Beach – 27 February 2010

We actually hit two beaches this day beginning with Basin Beach in Mona Vale, some 40km north of home.

I really liked this beach — it’s on a wineglass shaped bay which makes it not much for surf. As a native Chicagoan that works for me. Lots of families about and a nice little shallow sea pool on the southern end.

Basin Beach is in Mona Vale.  The area was known as Bongin Bongin by the aboriginal Australians who lived here for freaking ever before the British colonial government handed the area over to Robert Campbell as part of the first land grant made in the area in 1813.

Mona Vale is in the Pittwater Council LGA, the state seat of Pittwater (Rob Stokes, Liberal) and the federal seat of Mackellar (Bronwyn Bishop, Liberal).

No 4: Bilgola Beach – 27 February 2010

From Basin we pushed the extra five kilometres north to Bilgola Beach.

Bilgola is yet another great beach.  It was at this point in the project that I really began to appreciate the hidden gems we would be finding.  Bilgola is not a beach I would have stumbled upon by accident; it’s well removed from the main drag — you have to know it’s there to find it.

It was busy, but not crowded, primarily with locals I would guess.  There’s a pretty good coffee kiosk right at the beach, too.

Wikipedia tells us:

The name “Bilgola” is derived from an Aboriginal term Belgoula meaning “swirling waters”, or perhaps “a pretty beach with steep slopes, studded with cabbage palms”.

As with Basin Beach, Bilgola is in the Pittwater Council LGA, the state seat of Pittwater (Rob Stokes, Liberal) and the federal seat of Mackellar (Bronwyn Bishop, Liberal).

No 2: Balmoral Beach – 21 February 2010

Balmoral Beach, 17km/11m from home, is a on the Middle Harbour and in the well-to-do suburb of Mosman.

It was a warm day and the beach chockers with families and small children.

Balmoral is named after Balmoral Castle in Scotland (yeah, I can see the resemblance) and was, from 1922 – 1958 the terminus of a tram line.

It’s in the Mosman LGA, the state seat of North Shore (Jullian Skinner, Liberal) and federal seat of Warringah (Tony Abbott, Liberal).

No 1: Avalon – 31 January 2010

Avalon is one of Sydney’s glamour beaches — it just has that sort of a vibe.  It’s named after a legendary island in Celtic mythology, an earthly paradise and final resting place of King Arthur (Wikipedia).

The TV show Baywatch tried to move here back in the day but the locals said: NO piss off!

It is one of the most northerly beaches — 47kms (or 30 miles) from our home in Sydney’s inner western suburb of Lewisham.

Avalon is in the Pittwater LGA, the state seat of Pittwater (Rob Stokes, Liberal) and the federal seat of Mackeller (Bronwyn Bishop, Liberal).