Cliffs and Sand – The Eastern Beaches

(pic - Story) Coogee - Title

The last time I was in Sydney I went for a hike out into the Brisbane Waters National Park to search for some glyphs. This time I decided to keep my hiking activities somewhat closer to the city and chose to take the walk that stretches along the coastline between Coogee and Bondi Beaches. One of the main reasons that I decided to go for this walk was because it kept on popping up on Trip Advisor as something to do, and I don’t mind the occasional hike. Well, considering that I do end up walking everywhere (within reason of course), a bit of extra walking never really bothers me, and a specified walk, such as this, despite it coming from Tripadvisor, was even better. The other thing was that it meant that I could hit three beaches in one trip – Bondi, Coogee, and Bronte.

Actually, it also gave me the opportunity to visit some of the eastern suburbs that I generally don’t get down to, namely because most of the times that I have headed out that way it is mainly been to go to Bondi Junction and then on to Bondi Beach. However, from Bondi Junction there are plenty of buses that head off to a number of beaches down the coast. However, that is one of the really annoying things about Sydney – if you want to get to the beach you have to go by bus, and the problem with buses is that they a small, which means they end up getting pretty crowded pretty quickly. Okay, setting up a railway line that visits all of the beaches would be prohibitively expensive, but they are building a light rail network so maybe they could use that as a way of getting people to the beach much quicker (though as it turns out, the residents of the Eastern Suburbs don’t particularly want people to get to their beaches much easier).

(pic - Story) Coogee - Bondi Junction
Just one example of the bottle neck

I remember working with somebody from Sydney and how he told me that one of the things he hated about the place was that it could take up to two hours to actually get to the beach, and then Bondi Junction literally becomes a bottle neck with people going everywhere. Actually, while you can get to Manley by Ferry the only other beach that you can get to by train is Cronulla, and that is also quite a hike. The other thing about Sydney and her beaches is that most of the coast is actually rocky cliffs and the beaches tend to be in bays and inlets. Okay, further north where you get to Avalon you do tend to have longer stretches of beach, but along the southern coastline it is mostly rocky cliffs, which is not surprising considering that Sydney is pretty hilly.

Off to the Beach

Well, since it was a Sunday I ended up going to Church in the morning – the Cathedral of course – where the new Dean was speaking. Actually, I don’t think he is necessarily new anymore, but in the grand scheme of things, considering that the previous Dean, Phillip Jensen, had been in the position for quite a while, and also that I don’t live in Sydney so I don’t regularly attend the church, in my mind he is new. Anyway, after the service, and since the Cathedral is quite close to public transport – namely being on top of Town Hall Railway Station – it didn’t take all that long to get to the train. Mind you, what I have discovered is that Town Hall has this really annoying lack of air conditioning, which means that it gets really hot and stuffy on those really hot days. The other thing is that for some reason the Bondi train isn’t all that regular. However, it eventually came so I caught it.

(pic - Story) Coogee - Town Hall Steps
The Secret Entrance

So, I arrived at Bondi Junction and sure enough there were people everywhere. Well, that wasn’t all that surprising since it was a really nice day, and on those really nice days people all tend to make their way down to the beach – usually Bondi Beach. Fortunately I wasn’t heading to Bondi, so I wandered down the road and caught the first bus that was heading in the Coogee direction. However the problem was that I didn’t want to go all the way to Coogee just yet – I wanted to visit a few of the pubs on the rather meandering route between Bondi Junction and Coogee – it was just that the bus wasn’t stopping at every stop. Well, after walking down the front and standing there as if to say to the bus driver ‘I want to get off, and you are going to let me off because I’m not from Sydney so I don’t know how the buses work’, he pulled over at a bus stop and let me off.

The pubs happened to be across the road from each other – the Robin Hood and the Charing Cross – though like most pubs that happen to be next to each other they are vastly different: the Charing Cross was an incredibly classy establishment that was more like a restaurant while the Robin Hood was more your standard inner city pub. What was interesting though was the chicken shop a little further down the road, which I had some trouble explaining to the counterstaff exactly what I wanted. However, that frustration wasn’t what was grabbing my attention, but rather the guy sitting at the window telling a couple of younger guys about how Donald Trump was prophesised to become president, that he will become a Christian while he was in office. Me, I was torn between throwing a spanner into the works, or simply laughing, but instead my order was called out so I grabbed it, walked down and road and found a nice spot to eat.

Coogee

After I finished my lunch I didn’t head to the beach in a direct route but rather a more round-a-bout way which included visited a few more pubs. However, I eventually found myself at Coogee to discover that it was, well, pretty crowded. Mind you, it was a nice day and because of it being a nice day a lot of people end up going to the beach, and Sydney is a really big place. In fact as well as being a really big place, the number of beaches in Sydney are actually somewhat limited – as I mentioned previously, the Sydney coastline is mostly rocky cliffs with a few beaches inside the bays and inlets, which means these beaches can get really, really crowded.

As for Coogee, well, it was just another beach with lots of beachside stuff. There was a pub – a really big pub – just across the road and facing the foreshore. Next door was another pub, but it seemed to be a little trendier, and hip, than the main Coogee pub. I visited both of them and really didn’t think much of the big pub, but that probably had something to do with it being really crowded and also not having much in the way of decent beers on tap, oh and it being really crowded. However, my plan was not to simply sit in the pub drinking beer but actually going for a hike along the coast, heading north, and eventually land up at Bondi, not that I had any burning desire to actually go to Bondi, it was just that the walk was there so I decided to give it shot.

Another thing that I noticed about Sydney is that they have these swimming pools built into the sides of the cliff next to the beaches. I suspect that these are two fold because Sydney opens out onto the ocean which means that the seas can get pretty rough. The other thing is that rips are a lot more common – I notice that in Sydney, and on the Gold Coast, that swimming between the flags is an imperative. This is something that I have never seen in Adelaide. In fact I can’t recall the need to swim in between the flags in Melbourne either, but that is because the Melbourne and Adelaide beaches are quite calm. However, go to the east coasts and suddenly the waves begin to pick up, and the need for life savers to be out and about more important.

(pic - Story) Coogee - Swimming Pool
A coastal swimming pool

Oh, and there was also the swimming pools. Well, I didn’t see any on the Gold Coast but then again the Gold Coast is just one long beach that stretches from the New South Wales Border to Morton Bay, and even then the sides of the Stradbroke Islands that face the ocean are all beach. However, as I mentioned, Sydney is basically rocks and cliffs punctured with beaches, so having a swimming pool near the beach, but build into the cliff, makes it a little safer. Also the waves mean that the water is regularly changes.

The Coastal Walk

The thing with coastal walks is that they can very rarely be in a straight line. Okay, they are if you happen to be walking a long a beach, but then walking on sand isn’t one of the easiest things to do, especially when sand has this really annoying habit of seeping into your shoes and sticking to your feet – it seems as if sand has this ability to get anywhere and everywhere. However, where there are cliffs then the walk is hardly straight since the coastline weaves in and out at regular intervals, and when the path is heading along the top of the cliff going can be pretty quick, however when it ducks down and runs along the side of the cliff then you find that your trek takes a lot longer.

So, I headed to the top of the cliff and then took the path down to run along the cliff side of Gordon’s Bay, which was basically a rocky inlet with a really small beach at the far end. However there did seem to be a couple of boats bobbing in the water, though I doubt they would be there permanently since the seas can get quite rough around here. So the path wound around the cliff face, with bushes to either side (and countless numbers of people heading each way) to head back to the top to take me over to Clovelly beach, which was another beach in a narrow inlet. However this beach seemed to be much more populated, probably because it was a beach as opposed to a rocky inlet, and there were also a couple of seaside baths here as well.

Past Clovelley beach I came across the Waverly Cemetery, the path which was unfortunately close off named because violent weather had washed away parts of the cliff a couple of years earlier and the cliff had become somewhat unstable. However I decided to ignore the signs, but to the horrors of the people around me, namely because I am a big boy and take responsibility for my actions. Actually, that is half the reason why they close these paths of, namely because if somebody hurts themselves they sue the council. Actually, anybody and everybody attempts to sue a council because the council is supposed to make everything nice and safe and if something goes wrong it is the council (or some other government agency’s) fault. Then, if somebody can’t sue the council, the government, or some random person then it has to be God’s fault because nothing is ever, ever, somebody’s own responsibility. Mind you, if I had fallen and hurt myself I probably would have ended up wanting to sue the council as well, and then given up because it would end up costing me too much money when in the end it was my fault.

So, after crossing the cemetery (or walking around it as the case may be) I then headed off along the cliff path that took me down to Bronte Beach. A friend of mine who used to live in Sydney, but moved to Adelaide, fell in love with the city, and one of my friends, and decided to say, told me that Bronte was her favourite beach. I had a quick look around, and while it wasn’t as crowded as Bondi or Coogee, it was still pretty packed. However, the thing with Bronte (and with Clovelly for that matter) is that there isn’t anywhere near as many shops and pubs as the other two beaches. Basically they have a more suburban, out of the way feel about them, whereas Bondi and Coogee are much more commercial.

Well, I have now been to Coogee, though one of the annoying things was that when I go for these walks I tend not to have any swimming gear with me. Actually, I tend to go for these walks alone, so not only don’t I have any swimming gear, but I don’t have anywhere to store my stuff either. It would be really cool if there were lockers at the beach where I could put my stuff, but unfortunately there aren’t. Well, come to think of it, maybe I could set up some lockers at a beach, and charge people to use these lockers. Well, maybe, but the problem is that the beaches I really wanted to use where on some remote island in Thailand and Hong Kong.

After Bronte I headed further along the cliffs, and soon arrived at Bondi, which, not surprisingly, was packed. Sure enough, when I hit Campbell Parade, I discovered one of the main reasons why I don’t like Bondi – the buses. More so, as I was attempting to get onto one of the buses, as soon as I got to the door, the bus driver closed it and took off. Fortunately there was another bus that was there, so I jumped on it and headed back home. Well, to the hotel at least, but that was to charge up my phone before heading back out again to look at another part of Sydney – a rather sleazy part – Kings Cross.

(pic - Story) Coogee - Bondi

Creative Commons License
Cliffs and Sand – The Eastern Beaches by David Alfred Sarkies is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. If you wish to use this work commercially please feel free to contact me.

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