Bondi symbolizes Australia as much as the kangaroo, Uluru or the Sydney Harbour Bridge do. While the kangaroo represents all that is unique about Australian wildlife, Bondi symbolizes the Australian lifestyle. Australia is one country that treats leisure time seriously, somehow managing to combine work and recreation into a seamless unit.
Bondi has been synonymous with surf since the aboriginals named it thousands of years ago. Originally pronounced “Boondi”, the word means “the sound of waves crashing against the rocks.” It is a perfect name, since the waves do crash against the rocks on the two headlands that border sandy Bondi Beach.
Today, all the action at Bondi takes place on the beach between the two headlands. Directly in the middle of the beach is Bondi’s iconic Surf Lifesaving Club. First established in 1907, the Bondi Surf Lifesaving Club is the oldest club of its kind in the world. The club’s primary objective throughout its history has been to live up to its name and save lives. Many of the surf life saving techniques used by this club have been adopted throughout the world, especially since Sunday, February 6, 1937. On that day, club members made over 300 rescues in a single day. Although five lives were lost, the club received international acclaim for saving hundreds of lives.
In its early years, most of the beach goers to Bondi got there from Bondi Junction via the old Sydney tram line. The last tram to Bondi ran in 1961. Since then, buses have largely replaced trams and a large parking area has been created behind and around the surf club. On a busy Sunday in the summer, Bondi lifesavers have to keep track of as many as 20,000 beachgoers, while the local restaurants and cafes are kept busy keeping them fed. Fortunately, there are enough surf lifesavers and businesses to cater to everyone. Mishaps in the ocean are rare, thanks to the lifesavers and no one goes without sunblock, a beach hat or a hearty meal thanks to the dozens of shops and restaurants lining Campbell Parade, the main traffic thoroughfare.
While Bondi attracts the greatest crowds on hot days, it is a popular destination 365 days a year. In the middle of winter, surfers brave the cold winter waters to ride the waves and the world famous “Bondi Icebergs” jump into the icy waters of their salt water pool. Those who prefer to stay warm and dry exercise by jogging or walking on the scenic coastal walking trail that starts on the southern end of Bondi and goes around the headland to beaches further south.
Bondi is equally popular at night, when the pubs, entertainment venues, restaurants and other nightspots come to life. Bondi’s nightlife reflects its diverse community and tastes. As you wander down the street, you may hear the strumming of an acoustic guitar coming from inside a cafe/bookshop, the sound of electric guitars inside a local pub or the tinkling of piano keys from inside a lavishly appointed gourmet restaurant.