Sydney, part 2: beach bonanza!

Anyone who knows me will tell you how much I love a beach.  Generally, the wilder and further north the better, and if there happens to be a castle nearby then I’m pretty much in Heaven.  So of course, I had to visit some beaches here in Australia – actually, it would be difficult not to, given my route up the coast!

My friend Pete decided that part of my initiation to the life of Sydney should be visiting a couple of their beaches.  Happily, the weather improved rapidly last weekend (after my highly English welcome of rain and cold), so on Saturday we headed over to Manly beach (I know – what an appropriate name!)  To get there, you have to take a ferry, and boats are not really my thing.  But these are great – full of happy people taking innumerable shots of the Opera House (yes, I did), and pretty speedy across the harbour.

When we landed, I thought we were at the main beach, although it did seem rather petite… We discovered there are sometimes little penguins there, but today they were hiding from us – although it didn’t stop everyone scouring the beach, just in case.  Anyway, it turns out (thanks, Pete) that if you walk down a little high street, you find yourself at the proper Manly beach, which is just beautiful:

Manly beach

From the beach, you can walk up onto some cliffs, from where the views are spectacular – I’ve never seen such a turquoise (aquamarine?) sea – it’s as if someone emptied out a massive version of those tablets you put in the toilet cistern! To get to the top of the cliff, you get to walk through some proper Australian bush (small scale, probably, but still impressive to me), where we stopped to listen to a massive argument going on between some bullfrogs (well, they sounded pretty cross!)

Cliffs at Manly

There’s a great circular walk back down to the beach, and I had fun spotting the stereotypes: surfer dudes, people playing voleyball, surf rescue in red and yellow, skateboarders… All Aussie life is here!

On Sunday, the weather was even better – warmer and sunnier, although I noticed the locals insisted on wearing coats!  By English standards, it felt like a late Spring-early Summer day, so we headed to Bondi beach.  No ferry this time, just a train (they have double deckers here!  Imagine my excitement!) and a bus.  Like Manly, it feels like you’ve travelled far, far from Sydney when you hit the beach.  I found Bondi slightly shabbier than Manly, but no less charming for that.  Manly feels lived in, Bondi feels transient – if that makes any sense.  Again, the beach is beautiful, and the sea is ridiculously blue (especially in the sunshine):

bondi beach

And look how empty it was!  I had a little paddle in the water, which didn’t seem cold to me, although poor Pete was definitely a little chilled!  There were plenty of surfer dudes, showing the rest of the world how it’s done…

From the beach, you can do a coast walk right round to Coogee, but we only went as far as Bronte (lunch was calling).  Along the way, we found a little gem: an outdoor swimming pool!  My youngest daughter would absolutely love this place!  Bronte’s a smaller beach, although I imagine in the Summer it would be somewhat crowded, and an easy walk from Bondi:

Bronte beach

So, how do these beaches compare with my usual?  Well, a lot more surf, but no castles… but it turns out, I can love a beach anywhere in the world!  Be warned, there will be quite a lot more beach shots in future posts…

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