On most days it is possible to watch the training activities of the Bondi Surf Bathers’ Life Saving Club, which claims to be the oldest lifesaving club in the world.
In a country famed for its sun and sand, Bondi is perhaps Australia’s most visited beach. While this is partly due to its close proximity to Sydney, just 7km east of the Central Business District, what really draws people to Bondi is the spectacular setting and form of its beach. Its crystal clear turquoise waters are backed by a perfect crescent of white sand a kilometre long, and on most days the sun blazes down from a cloudless blue sky on surfers, swimmers and sunbathers alike.
The Bikini Ban
“Bondi” is an aboriginal word meaning “water breaking over rocks”. With the expansion of the British colony in the 19th century, the privately-owned beach became gradually more popular, until it was finally designated a public beach in 1882. In the 20th century, Bondi was the centre of a longstanding controversy surrounding official “decency standards” for beachgoing attire. From the 1907 Sydney bathing costume protests to the 1951 ejection for indecency of famed American film actress Jean Parker, the beach was in many ways a focal point for the frustrations of an emerging cultural and sexual revolution.
Thankfully, the measuring-tape-wielding officals were dispensed with in the 60s, and people are now free to enjoy the beach as they choose. Surfing is popular here, and there are a number of surf schools offering reasonably-priced lessons. If paddling is more up your street, be sure to stick to the northern end of the beach, as there is a strong rip current on the south end which is only suitable for experienced surfers. Keep your eye out for wildlife further out in the bay – pods of whales and dolphins have been spotted there during their months of migration.
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