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Meet the icon: Bondi Beach

Discover the beaches of New South Wales

Meet the icon: Bondi Beach
Surf at dawn, Bondi Beach, New South Wales. Image: Getty

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For many, Bondi Beach is the epitome of the Australian beach lifestyle. From legendary sunrises to epic surf, buzzy cafes to its irresistibly charming coastal culture, it draws sun, sand and sea worshippers from far and wide.

Whatever time of day you choose to dig your toes in the sand, the glossy appeal of Bondi never fades. Come at sunrise; the early alarm call will be worth it. Arising for an orange dawn in Sydney is almost a rite of passage for locals — the show of light and colours will leave you astounded. As the early morning hour approaches, grab yourself a coffee and toasted banana bread from one of the cafes and wander back over to the beach to watch as surfers launch themselves into the cool blue. If anything’s going to inspire you to pick up your own board and paddle out, it’s this golden hour, when the surfers are riding the swell. When you catch that wave – or at least attempt to — you’ll feel part of the hub, and looking back to Bondi from your board, you’ll know you’re in Sydney.

Early morning is also the classic time to walk the 7.5-mile Bondi to Coogee coastal jaunt — a round-trip from Sydney’s Bondi Icebergs swimming club and along the headland to Tamarama, with pit-stops at historic ocean pools, smaller beaches, rock pools and parkland before arriving in Coogee. Come in spring and Sculpture by the Sea, the largest annual sculpture exhibition in the world, will transform your path from Bondi to Tamarama.

As the day rolls on, the beach begins to bustle. Bronzed bathers, backpackers, school kids, A-listers, Z-listers… they come for the sun, the surf and the enduringly cool scene. It may be a tourist hotspot, but Bondi is definitely no trap.

Meet the person behind the icon: Brenda Miley, Let’s Go Surfing

When you get on the beach, everyone’s equal.  You could be in the water next to someone rich, poor or famous, but when you’re in your ‘cossies’ everyone’s equal. 

There are a few hidden gems. The rocks at North Bondi or Ben Buckler, as it’s known to the locals, is a great place to explore. There are also Aboriginal carvings dating back thousands of years dotted around the sandstone cliffs.

Everyone has their favourite time to visit.  Mine’s first thing in the morning, watching the sun come over Ben Buckler. But all times of the day have their moments.

There are lots of characters at any time wandering around. It’s beautiful and it’s fun with celebrities, bohemians and hipsters. The north end generally attracts the locals and in March, it’s the unofficial beach spot for Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras – it really lights up. Bondi middle is a mix of locals and day tripper tourists, and South Bondi is the local surfers’ mecca for experienced surfers only. Expect an anything-goes slice of Aussie life.

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Murrays Beach, Jervis Bay
Sheltered by Bowen Island and home to a colony of penguins, the clear waters of Murrays Beach are calm and shallow, and swimmers and snorkeller will relish the crystalline waters around the shoreline of this white curve of sand in the Booderee National Park. Walking trails wind away from the water to bring sandy beachgoers closer to the beach’s flora and fauna, too.

Main Beach, Byron Bay
A hippie at heart, Main Beach sports a sweep of golden sand and epic surf that is as alluring to locals and visitors alike. As well as its undeniable natural beauty with stretching sands and surfboard peppered waters, Main Beach is a vibrant destination for a host of activities: from kayaking to dance sessions at dusk.

Manly Beach, Sydney
Catching the ferry from Circular Quay to Manly is worth a trip in itself. There’s no better way to take in the stunning views of Sydney Harbour as you cross the water. As you arrive at this golden arch of beach, you’ll see why it could easily go head-to-head with Bondi, offering world-class waves, an infectious laid-back surfer vibe and unbeatable snorkelling along Cabbage Tree Bay.

How to do it

Fly to Sydney with Singapore Airlines from £765pp return. Singapore Airlines offers four daily flights from London Heathrow and five flights a week from Manchester with seamless connections via Singapore. singaporeair.com