If you’re coming to Sydney to escape the winter and partake in the ultimate Aussie summer experience of surf, sun and beach, then head about 15 minutes west of the city to the famous Bondi Beach. Sydney’s bronzed beauties and beachy hipsters call this eastern suburb home, attracted by the slew of trendy places to explore, shop, drink and eat. Here’s your guide to hitting Bondi like an in-the-know local.
Where to Eat and Drink
Tuck into Italian-Australian fusion food in a newly refurbished spot on the south end of the beach with a killer view. Stop in for breakfast and watch as the sun rises over the water and the surfers swim out to catch their first wave of the day. Order a Bloody Mary along with a breakfast pizza with smoked ham, egg, spinach, cherry tomatoes, mushrooms and provolone, or go all out with the barbecue chorizo and chili baked beans over fried polenta with spinach, a poached egg and Parmesan. If you’re not an early riser, head over as the sky begins to turn pink in the evening and enjoy one of the many pastas, risottos and other mains made with fresh seafood, such as the saffron risotto with prawns, mussels, clams, squid and dry vermouth or the angel hair with raw tuna, arugula, Parmesan and chili oil.
Opened in 2012 by the same people who run the Bondi healthy breakfast spot Porch and Parlour, The Hill Eatery boasts a winning combination of gorgeous food with a gorgeous view of the beach. The restaurant sources its food locally from sustainably run producers such as Flinders Island Meat and provides a nice selection of seasonal dishes. Order à la carte or from the set price menu that features shareable entrées, with options such as seafood paella (chorizo, calamari, prawns, mussels and salmon) or grilled halloumi cheese with broccoli, heirloom tomatoes and preserved lemon. The Hill Eatery really knows how to keep people coming back with its designated locals nights offering $20 mains every Monday and Tuesday, live music and an early bird special where kids eat for free before 6 p.m. The space also holds cooking classes, such as the recent Xmas Cooking School, which taught how to make a three-course meal using local produce and with minimal preparation.
The former Bondi 88.0 FM studios have been transformed into this small bar, ideal for people-watching out the front window or relaxing with friends in the courtyard out in the back. Furnished with reclaimed pieces and beer crates as stools, this bar offers great cocktails such as the Poste-Haste (Stolen Gold rum, smoked honey, lemon, bitters and sparkling wine) and dishes with Americana flair, such as mac and cheese with blue swimmer crab and smoky speck. Staying true to the space’s original radio roots, the house DJ runs a radio show out of the old studios, Mixanation, which plays in the bar and on the Web. While Neighbourhood runs the risk of turning into a too-cool bar, you’ll be pleasantly surprised with its friendly, open atmosphere, dismissing any stereotypical hipster bar mentality. Plus, Neighbourhood describes its wine, beer and cocktail offerings as “left-of-center without it all being juice for snobs,” in addition to sticking by a house mantra that life is too short for boring booze.
Where to Shop
The popular Bondi-based website that gave everyone serious beach envy opened its gallery in 2004. Dedicated to early morning beach life, the site and daily emails have developed a cult following with their shots of mornings in Bondi, as well as other beach destinations around the world such as Hawaii and Indonesia. Stop by the gallery to see the images in person, and maybe even purchase one of the prints to take a little piece of Bondi home with you.
This is a great one-stop shop for popular Aussie and international designers on the fashion scene. Tuchuzy is expertly curated with covetable labels such as Alexander Wang, Rag & Bone, Helmut Lang and Acne, as well as local favorites such as Christopher Esber, Dion Lee and Winston Wolfe. The undeniably chic mix of premier and emerging brands for sale gives this iconic Bondi boutique its stylish, unique and cutting edge.
For a full dose of top Aussie fashion and beyond, take a walk down Gould Street, where you’ll find some of the hottest boutiques and labels in Sydney. The street is filled with fashionistas getting their fix of designer duds, unique pieces and stylish threads. Embark on a boutique fashion crawl starting at Tuchuzy on nearby Campbell Parade and make your way around the corner to Gould Street, the next block over. You’ll hit one trendy store after another, such as Religion Clothing, Ksubi, Jatali, Carousel — and the list goes on.
What to Do
The Bondi Farmers Markets are a Saturday morning tradition for the Bondi set. Every Saturday, the local elementary school lawns and driveways fill up with stallholders selling local, organic and sustainable goods. Grab a coffee and start browsing what’s available that day, from delicious breads and organic oils to fresh herbs and natural honeys. A must-try is the sugar cane frappé with fresh cane juice (pressed onsite), pineapple juice, lime and mint from the juicing stall. It’s the ultimate thirst quencher for a hot Australian summer day.
On the weekend, head to the iconic swim club, home to the Bondi Icebergs and its crew dedicated to swimming in the Bondi Baths year-round — even during the winter. However, you don’t have to be a dedicated winter swimmer to enter the club, since you can visit the pool for $5.50 ($3.50 for kids). Make a day of it by hitting Icebergs for a dip and then taking one of the yoga classes. There’s nothing quite like the outdoor yoga offered on the Icebergs deck overlooking the Tasman Sea. After class, head to the saltwater pool that sits in the sea. If you’re in need of a relaxing way to spend the weekend after touring Sydney, this is certainly the place to do so.
No trip to Bondi would be complete without sinking your toes in its famous sand. Set up on the long stretch of beach for a day with the rest of the Bondi sun worshippers. You will be among Sydney’s most dedicated beachgoers as some spread out on towels to work on their tans and the surfers gear up to catch a few waves. Be sure to pack some sunscreen, though, as the Aussie sun is hot and strong.
Photo Courtesy of iStock_Kim Pin Tan