Australia: Wild Sydney

Sydney is more than just one of the most liveable cities in the world. It is also, like I think most Australian cities, surrounded by breathtaking scenery and nature, a lot of which is easily accessible even if you don’t drive. One of the most accessible outdoor walks you can do runs from the famous Bondi beach all the way along to Coogee, a lovely seaside town which I had already visited the previous evening.

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Bondi Beach

Getting to Bondi is easy enough since it is only around 6km out of the centre of Sydney. There are a whole host of buses heading direct to the beach or, if you fancy an urban walk beforehnd, you can take the train to Bondi Junction and walk literally straight down Bondi Road for about 30-40 minutes. You can’t miss the huge beach. As a small diversion, I walked along the beach too. It was slightly overcast in the morning so it wasn’t too busy but the choppy waves made for great surfing and a few brave souls were riding the chilly waves. After strolling alongside the beach, I headed up the road to Ben Buckler Point, a lookout point adjacent to the north of the beach which gives you a great view of the golden sand and the cliffs you are about to walk along.

Doubling back on myself, I walked back along the beach. It’s very easy to see where the walk starts. Even in winter it was popular with tourists and locals alike. The walk is touted as Bondi to Bronte since this is the most popular section but I decided to continue to Coogee since I had liked it so much the previous night and wanted to see it in good weather. Despite running along rugged cliffs and deserted beaches, the trail is never far from urban life so it is easy to hop off the trail at most points.

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Bondi-Coogee coastal walk

The walk is just stunning and I was lucky that the sunshine broke through the clouds as I started and it turned into a gorgeous day. If you follow the trail all the way to Coogee, you will encounter no less than 5 beaches, most of which are almost or completely empty. Tamarama, the first beach you come to after Bondi, was probably my favourite but none of them were shabby at all. If you’re not a beach person, the sweeping coastal views are more than enough to keep you occupied. The undulating cliffs are hypnotic and the bluest blue sky and bluest blue sea combine to make quite the vista. It’s unrelenting too – you get incredible views pretty much all the way along the easy 6km trail. And at the end of it all you can enjoy happy hour at the fab Coogee Pavilion. Perfect day!

The next day, I went even further out of town. My friend drove me way, way up north to Barrenjoey and nearby Palm Beach (where they film everyone’s favourite Aussie show, Home & Away – we saw them filming but unfortunately couldn’t get a cameo). Given its distance it’s obviously easier to get to by car, but it’s also possible (and would actually be pretty nice) to get to via public transport. Bus 199 takes passengers between Manly and Palm Beach and there is a regular ferry service from Circular Quay in central Sydney to Manly. Manly is also supposed to be nice too, though I didn’t get a chance to visit, so this could be a nice alternative way to get there, although you miss out on the delicious pies we picked up in Avalon on the way there.

The scenery is just incredible, especially in winter when pretty much no one except the Home & Away crew is there. The land becomes a relatively thin strip with two beaches on either side. To the west side, the water is unbelievably still and calm and you get views across to Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park. We had picked a perfect day for it with clear blue skies as far as the eye can see. On the other side, the main Palm Beach strip was being lashed with choppy waves, a total contrast to the idyllic west side.

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View from Barrenjoey lighthouse

In between the beaches were some small dunes and bushland, from where you can follow a short trail up the nearby hill to Barrenjoey lighthouse. There are two options for trails – we took one up and one back down. One is incredibly easy and has been well paved, whereas the Smugglers Track is a bit more rocky and slippery after rain. However neither are strenuous and both only take about 15-20 minutes. Once up there, you get a beautiful view of the peninsula which I just couldn’t take my eyes off. I’d really recommend going just before sunset (sunset in winter is aroud 5pm) as the light was just incredible. We then raced back down to the western beach to catch the final descent of the sun, with the whole water glowing a fiery orange. It was absolutely stunning.

I’d seriously advice a visit to Palm Beach and Barrenjoey as a magical day trip from Sydney. If you can’t get out that far, the Bondi-Coogee coastal walk is also spectacular. Sydney is just ace – go there now.

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