Location: Eastern Suburbs
The beachside subub of Bondi is one of Sydney's most popular tourist haunts. The suburb features many popular cafes, restaurants and hotels, with spectacular views of the beach. Hotel Bondi is a famous landmark opposite the beach featuring a number of popular bars and restaurants. The nearby Swiss Grand Hotel Bondi Beach is also a landmark opposite the beach.

Bondi is the end point of the City to Surf Fun Run which is held each year in August. The race attracts over 63,000 entrants who complete the 14 km run from the central business district of Sydney to Bondi Beach. Other annual activities at Bondi include Flickerfest, Australia's premier international short film festival in January, World Environment Day in June, and Sculpture By The Sea in November. In addition to many activities, the Bondi Beach Markets is open every Sunday. Many Irish and British tourists spend Christmas Day at the beach.

Bondi Pavilion is a community cultural centre, located right on Bondi Beach, which features a theatre, gallery, rehearsal, meeting and function rooms, art workshop, studios. Bondi Pavilion is the centre for major festivals performances throughout the year.

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Bondi Beach

Bondi Beach is Sydney's, and perhaps Australia's, most famous beach. About one kilometre long, it remains one of the best beaches in the world. There is an underwater shark net shared, during the summer months, with other beaches along the southern part of the coast. Pods of whales and dolphins have been sighted in the bay during the months of migration. Fairy penguins, while uncommon, are sometimes also seen swimming close to shore.

While the northern end has been rated a gentle 4 (with 10 as the most hazardous), the southern side is rated as a 7 due to a famous rip current known as the "Backpackers' Express" because of its proximity to the bus stop, and the unwillingness of tourists to walk the length of the beach to safer swimming. The south end of the beach is generally reserved for surfboard riding. Yellow and red flags define safe swimming areas, and visitors are advised to swim between them.

Ben Buckler

Ben Buckler is the name given to the northern headland of Bondi. The name first appears in 1831; some say it was bestowed by Governor Macquarie who called it Ben-Becula, due to its resemblance to an island in Scotland's outer Hebrides. Others say historic documents indicate that in the year 1810 two men named James Ives and Benjamin Buckler left the penal settlement, and went away amongst the Aborigines of Botany Bay and Port Hacking, south, apparently, as far as Illawarra. There is no evidence to prove they were free men or bond. These men lived with the natives for ten years, and Ives could speak fluently the language from Illawarra to the Hawkesbury. According to Ives, Ben Buckler who was a Yorkshireman, was died on the coast somewhere in the vicinity of Bondi, while standing on the edge of a cliff on a shelf of rock, which collapsed. For many years, the point was known as Ben Bucklers Leap.

Ben Buckler is the site of a fortified gun emplacement dating from the late-Victorian period located. The Ben Buckler Gun Battery was constructed in 1892 as one of a set of three coastal defence fortifications for Sydney Harbour, the other two being Signal Hill Battery at Watsons Bay and the Shark Point Battery in Vaucluse. These fortifications were the last link in Sydneys outer defence perimeter, which was intended to defend Sydney from bombardment by an enemy vessel standing off the coast.

The fortifications built in the 1890s around Sydney's eastern suburbs were the culmination of some twenty years of construction of harbour defence installations that reflected the changing policy of the time to meet new technologies, threats and styles of warfare.

Sometime in the 1950s the army vacated the site. The government was unsuccessful in finding a scrap metal buyer to remove the gun, so it buried the gun and gave the site over to parkland. The gun's existence was forgotten until it was rediscovered in the mid-1990s by Water Board engineers planning a new pipeline. It is now classed as an architectural relic and is under the protection of the Heritage Council.

Bondi Road

After soaking up the atmosphere of Bondi Beach, why not take a look at another equally interesting side of Bondi. Above the south-western end of Bondi Beach, Campbell Parade take a turn to the west into Bondi Road, which is one of the most interesting suburban streets in Sydney. Take a stroll along Bondi Road and you are in a different world. The Russian influence is obvious in the shops that line this picturesque street  a visit to the Hungarian Wellington Cake Shop is a must.

The street boasts some of the finest examples of the architectural styles of the Federation era - the Free Classical style Waverley Council Chambers, Federation era cottages and Victorian terraces with characteristic wrought iron balconies. The east end of Bennett Street is a shopping strip that includes older shops and dwellings in a mixture of Federation and Victorian styles, plus conspicuous influence of the Arts and Crafts style.

Murriverie Rocks, North Bondi

Hidden behind the greens of the Bondi Golf Course, Williams Park in North Bondi is a gem of a spot to visit. The views up and down the coast are second to none, but there are a few bonuses that make the locality a must to visit. Up on the cliff tops there are some excellent examples of Aboriginal rock art alongside a few other mysterious carvings that pioneer aviator Lawrence Hargrave believed to have been created by Spanish sailors (see next entry). If that's not enough to whet your appetite, there are remnants of World War II fortifications, as well as a dramatic gash in the cliffs known as the Murriverie Pass, which for many decades rock fisherfolk descended, partly on ropes and ladders, to the water level to fish.
North Bondi Rock Art

There are numerous examples of Aboriginal rock art on the cliffs above the ocean at North Bondi. At Ben Buckler, five examples once existed, but a representation of a turtle about 1.5 metres long is the only one that remains. It was re-grooved by was re grooved by the Waverley Council in 1964. A whale and three elongated figures have either been buried by silt or destroyed when the path and staircase were built.

Located beyond the golf course on the rocks at Williams Park, North Bondi, above the ocean is an Aboriginal rock carving site which features a number of Aboriginal engravings, including sharks, fish, men and women. To their north-east is another group, which today are quite worn, and appear to be of non-Aboriginal origin. One carving in this group is of a Spanish sailing ship. It was in 1912 that Hargrave, Australias father of aviation  and a historian of some repute, examined these carvings which depict letterings and two outlines of a carrack, a vessel steered by a sweep, like an ancient Greek trireme. The ship resembles the Santa Maria, in which Columbus sailed to America in 1492. The letterings in capitals beside the ship, are BALN  in one line and beneath are the letters ZAIH.  The letter W  is beside the symbol of a cross within an elongated circle, which is the symbol of conquest by Spain. It was emblazoned on the sails of the Spanish Armada and the ships of the conquistadors on their voyages to the Americas.

Hargrave believed the letterings to be ancient Spanish Latin 'doodles' (a form of Latin shorthand used during the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries). He believed them to say, We in the Santa Barbara and Santa Isabel conquered W from point to point by the sign of the Cross.  The letters AIH  could have been the rock signatures of witnesses to the declaration, he said. Near his home on Pt. Piper, Hargrave also took interest in two stout ring bolts leaded into solid rock near the waters edge, far enough apart to hold ropes attached to the mast of a small ship. Nearby, was an ancient excavation that could have been a dam.

It is a commonly believed that the ring bolts were placed there by convicts to allow the mooring of boats belonging to Captain John Piper (1773-1851), a military officer who arrived in Sydney in 1792 and built a mansion there. Hargrave extensively researched the North Bondi engravings and concluded they were of a Spanish caravel and not a British sailing ship as was once thought. He believed they were placed there by the crew of the Santa Yzabel which left Spain in 1595 to establish a colony in the Solomon Islands and is evidence that Spanish vessels sailed the east coast of Australia long before Captain Cook visited our shores in 1770. Hargraves finding caused a storm of controversy among university historians of his day. Many still view this explanation as more fanciful than likely, but whatever its origin, the carvings are definitely not Aboriginal.
Bondi Markets

Bondi Beach Community Market
Rosco St. Mall, Campbell Parade, Bondi Beach NSW 2026, Australia
Trading: Sept  Nov, March & April: Weekends & Public Holidays 1pm  8pm.  Dec  Feb: Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday, & Tuesday 1pm  10pm.
Type: Art & Craft, General, Twilight, Fashion, *Wheel Chair Friendly
Phone: 0415 449 362

Favourite Things Market
3/21-23 Imperial Ave, Bondi
Trading: Every Saturday  12noon  6pm
Type: General

Bondi Junction Village Markets
Bondi Junction,
Trading: every Wednesday, Thursday & Friday (except public & Christmas holidays)  9.00am  5.00pm
Type: Artisans, Farmers, Produce, Fashion, Handmade, Food, Recycle Phone: 0418 46 1846

s Bondi Beach Markets
Campbell Parade, Bondi Beach NSW 2026, Australia
Trading: Every Saturday  10am  5pm
Type: Art & Craft, Designers, General
Phone: 02 9315 8988

Mermaid Rock

Mermaid Rock is a huge rock on Ben Nuckler, said to have been washed up from the sea during a storm on 15th July 1912. The rock weighs an amazing 235 tonnes, so - if the official explanation as to how it got there and recorded on the plaque affixed to the rock is to be believed - it must have been a gigantic storm that could disgorge so mammoth a giant from the ocean floor, hurl it three metres into the air and roll it 50 metres across the coastal shelf. According to some geologists, there is evidence to suggest that this killer wave was preceded some 200 years earlier by an even bigger monster wave, estimated at 110 metres high. Evidence of this monster wave is said to exist up to 5km inland.

And if that is not enough to give Ben Buckler notoriety, in 1960 artist Lyall Randolph Williams sculpted and secured two life sized mermaids atop the rock, which explains how the rock got its name. Lyall modelled his mermaids on two local women: Jan Carmody, who was Miss Australia Surf, 1959 and Lynette Whillier, champion swimmer and runner-up in the Miss Australia Surf, 1959.

The topless 'Bondi Mermaids' made international headlines as bikinis were still risque at the time. Jan and Lynette entertained the world and graced their rocky throne until 1974 when severe storms and seas claimed Lynette and Jan's originally damaged torso remained alone until 1976 when Waverley Council, concerned for her safety, relocated her to higher ground, she then mysteriously disappeared for 10 years and resurfaced only to be sadly 'stored' at Waverley Library.

In 1999, the Friends of Waverley Library paid for her remains to be preserved. She is on permanent display in a special perspex case on the 1st floor, Waverley Library, 32-48 Denison Street, Bondi Junction.

Bondi Icebergs

If you are from out of town (or from another area of Sydney for that matter), its recommended you put a visit to Bondi Icebergs high on your to do  list whilst in Bondi. The famous Bondi Baths have been a landmark of Bondi Beach for over 100 years. Back in 1929, a group of enthusiasts met on the rocks at South Bondi to indulge in their favourite pastime of winter swimming. There were a mere eight or nine such pioneers and they swam regularly in what was then, and is now known as the Bogey Hole, near Bondi baths. They formed the Bondi Icebergs Winter Swimming Club and drew up a constitution and elected office bearers. Included in the constitution was a rule that to maintain membership it was mandatory that swimmers compete on three Sundays out of four for a period of five years.

Few, if any, of this small band of dedicated enthusiasts to the cause could have realised that in well under 50 years, the Club would be known as Bondi Icebergs Club, have a modern clubhouse four storeys above Bondi Baths and control the baths under license from The Bondi Icebergs Trust.

The pool is open to the public. You can enjoy some laps in the 50 metre Olympic pool or take the kids in the smaller kids pool. Fully qualified lifeguards patrol the pools during opening hours. The Bondi Icebergs Bistro is located next to the Sundeck Bar. Come in and try our fabulous fresh seafood, large juicy steaks, great snacks, desserts and special meals for kids. Dining at the Bistro means you can have your meal out on the balcony, stare at the majestic view of their pool and the beach, enjoying good company, a meal and a cool refreshing drink. Make sure you bring photo ID as you need to sign in as a guest and go during the week if you can to be sure of a table with a good view.

1 Notts Ave, Bondi, Waverley, NSW. Phone: (02) 9130 4804

Bondi to Coogee Coastal Walk

The Bondi to Coogee Walk (or coast walk) is a cliff top that offers a combination of beaches, parks and ocean views. Locals have been enjoying this walk since the 1930s and is still one of the gems of Sydneys Eastern Suburbs. The walk features stunning views, beaches, parks, cliffs, bays and rock pools. The beaches and parks offer a place to rest, swim or a chance to eat at one of the cafes, hotels, restaurants or takeaways. All beaches offer picnic shelters, electric barbecues, play areas, kiosks, toilets and change-rooms. The walk is not difficult, there are medium gradient paths and several staircases with occasional seating. It takes about two hours to complete the Bondi to Coogee Beach section of the walk and another hour and a half if you choose to continue to Maroubra.

The Bondi to Tamarama walk is the venue for the Sculpture by the Sea ,Tamarama Beach and Mackenzies Point is a favorite with surfers and Bronte Beach is popular with families. A board walk takes you past Waverley Cemetery, the most scenic burial ground in the world. Swim snorkel or dive at Clovelly Beach and Gordons Bay. Enjoy the cafes and Wylies Bath at Coogee. If you like you can continue to Maroubra Beach via the Lurline Bay wetlands. Make sure you wear comfy shoes, bring a hat, sunglasses, sun screen and water.

Highlights: Bondi, Tamarama, Bronte and Coogee beaches; Mackenzies Point Aboriginal rock art site.
Duration: 2 hours.
Distance: 6km.
Grade: easy/moderate

Federation Cliff Walk (Watsons Bay to Bondi)

The Federation Cliff Walk is a 5 km walking trail from Watsons Bay to Dover Heights, boasting high sandstone cliffs and amazing panoramic views of the Tasman Sea. This coastal walk meanders through beautiful parklands and open spaces and includes an exciting timber walkway with viewing platforms that bring you on top of the cliffs. The Bondi to Watsons Bay walk (or Watsons Bay to Bondi walk) is the same as the Federation Cliff walk but goes a little further to Bondi Beach. The Federation Cliff Walk can be commenced either from Gap Park in Watsons Bay, or in Dover Heights at Rodney Reserve or Raleigh Reserve.
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  • Diamond Bay: the coastal scenery here becomes even more dramatic during a storm, but walking the coastal track is not safe and should be avoided at such times.

Dover Heights

Dover Heightsis considered to be one of the more affluent in the Eastern Suburbs and is popular for it's close proximity to Bondi Beach along with being just minutes from many local schools, cafes and public transport. It is known for the commanding views of both the harbour and ocean from many of the homes in the area.

It is believed to be named after Dover Street (now Dover Road), which was possibly named after the White Cliffs of Dover because both places have picturesque cliffs. The name was first used by developers of the area. Market gardens were established here during the early part of the 19th century. These were gradually replaced by stately homes which took advantage of the locations superlative views. Dover Heights was subdivided for residential development in the 1880s.

Dover Heights city view

Rodney Reserve, on the cliff tops at Dover Heights in the eastern suburbs of Sydney, was one of the most remarkable and important astronomical sites in New South Wales. From 1946 to 1954 it was one of the most important radio astronomy sites in the world. In the mid-1940s almost nothing was known about radio waves from space. scientists and engineers from the CSIRO Division of Radiophysics built a range of radio telescopes at Dover Heights and developed new ways of collecting radio data. Many major discoveries were made at Dover Heights.

These established Australia as a world leader in the emerging new science of radio astronomy. Today, CSIRO continues to operate world-class radio telescopes. The Sun was the first object observed with the radio telescopes at Dover Heights. Strong bursts of radio emission were received during times of sunspot activity. When Radio telescopes were pointed towards the sky they revealed areas of concentrated radio emissions. Further investigations shows that the radio waves came from the gas clouds in our Galaxy and from distant galaxies. Scientists in the CSIRO radio astronomy group who worked at Dover Heights included John Bolton, Bruce Slee, Gordon Stanley, Kevin Westfold and Dick McGee.

This house in Rodney Street, Dover Heights was the field station of the CSIRO Division of Radiophysics unit in the 1950s. It was built as a coastal defence radar station by the Australian Army in World War II, and disguised to look like a house In 1951 CSIRO staff dug a 22 metre 'dish-shaped' hole in the sand near the cliff top to make the 'hole-in-the-ground' radio telescope. In 1953 this was enlarged to 25 metres, coated with concrete, and covered with wire mesh to provide a reflecting surface for radio waves. At the time, this was one of the largest radio telescopes in the world. This radio telescope was used with great success to hunt for radio sources in the sky and to study the strong source at the centre of our own Galaxy. This source became the zero-point for the system of celestialco-ordinates that is still used today by astronomers. Near the cliff is a full-size replica of an 8-element Yagi antenna that was built in 1951. The original antenna was used for 'sea interferometry'. In this special technique, the antenna detects radio waves that come directly from a source in the sky, and at the same time other radio waves from the source that are reflected off the sea.

More than 100 sources of radio emission were discovered using the radio telescopes at Dover Heights. A wonderful and unexpected discovery was that many distant galaxies are hugely powerful sources of radio waves. In some galaxies the radio waves are generated by black holes that are hundreds of millions of time more massive than the Sun. The Dover Heights discoveries marked the beginning of the radio study of the Universe and heralded a new era in astronomy. Since then, radio waves have been used to explore the entire cosmos, from the Sun and planets in our solar system, to stars and gas in our Galaxy, and beyond to other galaxies and the most distant reaches of the Universe.

History of Bondi

"Bondi" or "Boondi" is an Aboriginal word meaning water breaking over rocks or noise of water breaking over rocks. The Australian Museum records that Bondi means place where a flight of nullas took place.

In 1809, the road builder William Roberts received a grant of land in the area. In 1851, Edward Smith Hall and Francis O'Brien purchased 200 acress of the Bondi area that included most of the beach frontage, which was named the "The Bondi Estate." Hall was O'Brien's father-in-law. Between 1855 and 1877 O'Brien purchased his father-in-law's share of the land, renamed the land the "O'Brien Estate," and made the beach and the surrounding land available to the public as a picnic ground and amusement resort. As the beach became increasingly popular, O'Brien threatened to stop public beach access. However, the Municipal Council believed that the Government needed to intervene to make the beach a public reserve. On 6 February 1938, 5 people drowned and over 250 people were rescued after a series of large waves struck the beach and pulled people back into the sea, a day that became known as "Black Sunday".

The Reserve at the southern end of Bondi Beach, Broadhurst Postcard, 1910 - 1927. State Library NSW

Bondi Beach was a working class suburb throughout most of the twentieth century. Following World War II, Bondi Beach and the Eastern Suburbs became home for Jewish migrants from Poland, Russia, Hungary, Czechoslovakia and Germany, while a steady stream of Jewish immigration continues into the 21st century mainly from South Africa, Russia and Israel, and the area has a number of synagogues, a kosher butcher and the Hakoah Club.

An ordnance governing the decency of swimming costumes was in force between 1935 and 1961, and resulted in public controversy as the two-piece "bikini" became popular after World War II. Waverley Council's beach inspectors, including the legendary Aub Laidlaw, were responsible for enforcing the law and were required to measure the dimensions of swimwear and order offenders against public decency off the beach. The rule became increasingly anachronistic during the 1950's and was replaced in 1961 with one requiring bathers be "clad in a proper and adequate bathing costume", allowing for more subjective judgement of decency. By the 1980s topless bathing had become common at Bondi Beach, especially at the southern end.

The northern side of Clyde Street (east of Hardy Street) which backs onto the cliffs of North Bondi was once a quarry. Beat Bros., Loveridge and Hudson and Stuart Brothers were the main operators, who between them quarried much of the stone used in the construction of homes and public buildings in and around Bondi.

130-136 Clyde Street, North Bondi, today occupy the Stuart Brothers quarry site.

The cliff has clearly been quarried out in stages and parts have been concreted over, also in stages, marked by incised graffiti dates: 20.11.52, 1955, 1959, 1960, 15.6.62, 22.6.73 and 9.5.78. The quarry wall is thus an epigraphic monument of some curiosity value.

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How to get there:
Public transport: Bus No. 380, 383, L82 from Circular Quay.
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  • The Name
    Taken from the Aboriginal word, Bundi, which described the sound of waves breaking on the beach. The name was first used by the pioneer surveyor James Meehan, who referred to it as Bundi Bay.

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