Coastal walk - Bondi, Tamarama and Coogee beaches

Day 9 ::: Wednesday 13th September, 2000

No plan for today as such. We'd wanted to go to Manly Beach on the north head, but it was 10.30 and we hadn't even left Bondi yet (and Manly was still a bus and ferry ride away), so instead we opted for the coastal walk, starting at Bondi!

We did, of course, get a brief preview of some of the beaches on Saturday, but now we could take our time and take the sites in at our own leisure. The plan was to walk south, the only direction open to us in fact, until we got to Coogee (Aboriginal name meaning rotting seaweed - but that couldn't be more inappropriate!). This could take an hour and a half but with stops along the way we were probably looking at a few hours. The weather was gorgeous, so a dip in the ocean looked likely.

Beyond the rocky Mackenzies Point and the secluded Mackenzies Bay was the first beach after Bondi - Tamarama. This is a deep, narrow beach which had some very strange sand. I mean, it was clean, it was great ... but it squeaked underfoot as you walked on it, and that's something I've never heard before. Didn't do that on Bondi. What made this beach so special? Topless sunbathing is the norm, or so says the guide book, and I was indeed topless. It wasn't a pretty sight, as I discovered later to my horror when I watched a camcorder clip of me drying off after a dip in the sea. There was a definite curve of the belly that I hadn't noticed before. I should have looked well trim, given the effort I had just put in trying to compete with the strong currents of the Tasman Sea. Not the case.

Once drip/sun-dried, it was off to the next beach along, Bronte and on through Waverley Cemetery. Yep, part of the coastal walk weaves you through a cemetery with a view to die for, so if you're a resident there you've already fulfilled the acceptance criteria. After that, we found ourselves in Clovelly bay. This was a whole different kettle of fish from Bondi and Tamarama again. Clovelly is deep and narrow, kind of finger-shaped, and the currents are non-existent. Locals swim up and down the bay without too much difficulty at all, but I opted not to swim just yet as I had only just dried off from the last dip - made a mental note to come back here some other time.

We were nearing the end of our walk as we rounded Gordon's Bay, to our final destination of Coogee Beach. As we got to Dunningham's Reserve, I went to investigate the mysterious door on the edge of the cliff. It looked like something from a Road Runner cartoon, but I knew what it actually was - the doorway of a famous gymnasium which stood there for years and had only recently been demolished. There didn't appear to be any reason why they had demolished it but left this standing. It wasn't unfinished - all the rubble had been cleared away and the last bit fenced off - and neither did it appear to be left as a monument.

We ate at a restaurant in Coogee called Salt Water which, not surprisingly, had a lot of seafood on the menu, then jumped on a bus to Bondi Junction. Instead of heading back home, we decided to go back in to the city to catch the laser show at Darling Harbour.

Darling Harbour laser show

The laser show is projected from the middle of the harbour against a 'screen' of water jets. The show was sponsored by UPS, which they were not going to let you forget in a hurry, and celebrated the spirit of the Olympics. The thing is, no-one else seemed to be celebrating quite to the level that Sydney Organising Committee for the Olympic Games (SOCOG for short) had been banking on. At least, that's how it looked to me as we sat there on the harbour's edge with just a handful of people around us. Where were 'the visitors'? It was only two days before the games were due to begin, so where was everyone hiding?