Because there is SO much in Sydney, Australia that I haven’t had time to see, deciding what to do on my last day in this beautiful city was tough. Ultimately, the decision was made for me when my friend, Jane, with whom I’ve been staying, said that coming to Sydney and not seeing Bondi Beach was like going to Paris and not seeing the Eiffel Tower.
Bondi Beach is famous with surfers the world over for its waves and famous with tourists and residents for its cliff walk that leads from the wide crescent that is Bondi Beach, up and over the rocky headland to Tamarama and Bronte Beaches. We had not done the cliff walk before this because the weather in Sydney has been unusually rainy, but today the weather cooperated, providing us with a crisp, sunny day with not a cloud in sight. Afterward, since it was such a nice day we had lunch on the outdoor terrace of a North Bondi restaurant, enjoying a spectacular view of the bay (I can’t believe I dined outdoors in 55 degree weather) and then toured some of Jane’s favorite beaches that are tucked into hidden corners all over Sydney. So, here are a few photos of the things I saw today – if only I had another three weeks here!
Byron Bay, located about 800 kilometers (480 miles) north of Sydney, is the easternmost point in Australia. During its formative years the town was discovered by hippies, who inevitably came for a week and stayed for years, leaving their indelible stamp on Byron Bay’s culture. The laid back, alternative lifestyle that persists to this day has made this small town of 30,000 residents the third most popular holiday spot in the country. Although the hippies have either grown up or moved away, today Byron Bay hosts events such as yoga retreats, pagan gatherings and music festivals that attract an eclectic mix of backpackers, surfers and musicians, as well as the affluent baby-boomer contingent.
I have come here for a number of reasons. First, it has beautiful beaches and anyone who knows me at all knows I am a beach bum at heart. Second, it is warmer because it is about eight hours north of Sydney – and I am definitely over being cold. Third, for the Yoga. Fourth, it is a surfer’s paradise. I chose to fly because it would be quicker (and cheaper) than renting a car, but the weather did not cooperate – rain poured down all morning and the Sydney Airport was closed three times (each time the control tower was hit by lightning), so I did not even arrive in town until after 4 PM. I checked into my hotel, dumped my luggage in my room, and hurried across the street to see the beach before the light failed.
The view from the top of the dune took my breath away. Directly in front of me a deep turquoise ocean lapped gently upon a wide golden-pink expanse of sand. The sun’s descent behind distant mountains diffracted the fading sunlight, throwing rays up into the evening sky like an array of searchlights in a perfect arc. As the sky turned from pink to gold to orange to purple, I walked up and down the beach Continue reading
Usually, I’m pretty savvy about geography, but for some reason I thought that Sydney, Australia was on the ocean. Whenever I looked at a map of Australia, Sydney appeared to be on the coast – this is such a large country that small maps of it don’t show much detail. Then there are the more than 70 beaches and the famous surfing spots like Bondi Beach that I have always read about. To my surprise I discovered that the city center is located about a third of the way down a long inlet that forms the famous Sydney Harbour – it’s the suburbs that are actually on the Pacific Ocean. I couldn’t come to Sydney and not visit its famous beaches so today I climbed aboard a ferry for the 15-minute ride to the town of Manly.
The boat docked on the inlet side of the narrow strip of land that forms the northern entry to the inlet. A five-minute walk down “The Corso” (the main drag) took me from the inlet side to the ocean side of town, where a promenade ran the entire length of the long crescent of golden-pink sand that is Manly Beach. It was immediately apparent that surfing is taken seriously here – in fact, surfing is considered a national sport in Australia.