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New Year's on Bondi Beach

Bondi beach was our third and last stop on a two week tour over Christmas and New Year 2017/2018, with NYE planned for Bondi. It was only a 90 minute drive from Bundeena, with some scenic views exiting the Royal National Park, until the highway and urban expanse of Sydney.

Wanting to make this holiday special for my daughter Sam, who gets little time off work, I spent many many hours online trying to get the best accommodation I could afford. I was unsuccessful at finding self-catering on Stayz and Airbnb in Bondi. Anything near the beach was way out of my price range, and those I contacted within my price range didn’t reply, possible because I only wanted it for five days. After weeks of searching, and places filling up fast, this is

Australia mid-summer holiday period as well as Christmas and New Year, I settled on finding a hotel. A deal on Expedia for Hotel Bondi looked pretty good, after days of deliberation I booked it as there was very few rooms left in Bondi on all websites and I didn’t want to miss out getting something near beach-side.

As a note, to give you an idea of time-scales, I was looking and booking this around September time. Plan well ahead, it wasn’t a sales pitch, the rooms really were booked up that soon for the Christmas period.

We’d driven from Bundeena, around 60kms South of Bondi, in my daughter’s car, still loaded with mountain bikes and all the kit required for mountain riding after a previous visit to Thredbo. On arriving at Campbell Parade in Bondi I was pleasantly surprised to find Hotel Bondi right opposite the famous beach, and amidst the action of Bondi life itself. It has secure underground parking for $10 a night, which was a really good facility, and I felt happy our bikes would be safe down there.

I’d booked a twin room, and that’s what we got! The room was big enough, quite non-descript really but perfectly adequate for us, but bumping up the fab factor was a patio door leading out to a large communal balcony running the whole length of the hotel. I spent quite a bit of time out there, and rarely saw anyone else use it.

I remember seeing a warning online that this hotel could get noisy due to the bar on the premises. I’m a light sleeper but didn’t find it particularly noisy at all. And the hotel was generally quite quiet. I’d definitely book there again. Apart from a grumpy young man on our first arrival, the staff were really pleasant and helpful.

Weather-wise, over the five day period, it ranged from blue skies, hot and sunny, to overcast and rainy. At a guess I’d say around 70% sun/20% cloud/10% rain, still it was always warm.

There was tea and coffee making facilities in the room, and a restaurant on the ground floor, which we didn’t use, as it wasn’t really our type of food, but looked quite tasty if you like that sort of thing. Mostly we ate at small cafes that served fresh, vegetarian and vegan food. It can get quite expensive, with a coffee each you’re looking at $50 for a meal for two, which may not sound a lot but times by three meals a day and by five days, it soon eats your budget up! We tended to just have one small meal and one main meal a day to keep the costs down.

I find food in Australia rather expensive compared to UK prices, considering most is grown on this vast island, although I guess not transported from other countries, Australia is so big that there are considerable transportation costs anyway.

There’s a large indoor market/shop selling all kinds of fresh fruit and vegetables plus many health foods, this is no cheaper than most shops there but had a wide range of healthy provisions. If I was to go to Bondi again I would consider paying more for self-catering accommodation, as I think buying and cooking your own meals would save a few hundred dollars a week.

One of my favourite cafes was the Earth Store on Gould Street, it was a health food shop and cafe, having a good choice of vege and vegan fayre. We also ate in another small cafe, mostly for breakfast, whose name escapes me, shown in the photo above. They did a wide range of avacado based vege breakfasts, and exceptional coffee!

We didn’t do anything epic in Bondi which is slightly blasé, as visiting Bondi Beach was on my bucket list, so that should be considered epic in itself! Mostly we just chilled in cafes or on the beach. The sea can be unpredictable on Bondi Beach, with strong currents and sudden changes of current direction, I guess that’s why the Bondi lifeguards are so busy! It get quite busy by mid morning, we went quite early one time, around 7am, there was hardly anyone around, so would be a good time to go if you want your space!

Sam’s a fan of the Bondi Rescue documentary TV program, so when they came and parked up and filmed where we were sitting she was quite excited! I’d only ever seen snippets of it so didn’t know any of the people, so couldn’t really join in the excitement!

I had some fab bodyboard runs, always saying just one more, then twenty runs later realise I’ve been ages. I wish I’d made an effort to get surfing lessons there, but we left it too late.

Sam wanted to watch the Holly Holmes/Cris Cyborg UFC fight, so we took a trip to the Sydney UFC Gym to train and to watch the fight, which was pretty cool. The gym is in a large modern building in a Sydney CBD area, with fancy car showrooms and the like adjacent. The cafe at the gym was closed, as it was NYE, and there wasn’t any local cafes around, so was a little difficult to find food. I hadn’t trained in a gym for weeks, so having worked-out for a few hours, found myself stiffening up the next day. That’ll teach me! Sam joined in a Muay Thai class, I just did stretching, weights and a little bag work, without gloves it’s a little difficult!

On the night of New years eve, we had something to eat then walked to Caffyn Park, around forty minutes uphill from our hotel. Where we could see across the bay with a view of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. We had a really good view of the fireworks, without all the kerfuffle of going into Sydney city itself, and they were spectacular!

Sam’s not a fan of mountain biking, but will do it occasionally to please me, even though for a beginner she’s really good, you’d think she’d been doing it for some years. So we didn’t get the bikes out in Bondi at all except when I went for a quick whizz up the strip on Stumpy for a photo opportunity!

We stayed in the hotel from the 30th of December, checking out on the 3rd of January.

And that was the end of our just-over two weeks away, we’d gradually moved North on the NSW coast and were now around 600km from Sam’s house, so had a seven hour drive home to look forward to! Luckily there are some fabulous views along the way to keep you awake!

I have some regrets, inasmuch I wish I’d had more energy to do more, ride more, get surfing lessons etc. Alas with being over-tired from the two weeks doing the garden the energy just wasn’t there. Lesson learnt; conserve energy for action not work!

I may visit Bondi again, but really I want to venture up higher on the Eastern coast, so would probably fly/drive to do that. For the future, definitely!

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