Sydney Beaches – February 2015

Remember, even though it’s February and Boston is trying to dig out of endless snowstorms, we’re in the Southern Hemisphere. So it’s the height of summer here…but we’re not rubbing it in! First stop in Sydney: the beaches.

We took a ferry to Manly Beach.


This reminded us a bit of the Star Ferry in Hong Kong. Two levels of travel and people clambering to get the front seating.

“Seven miles from Sydney and 1,000 miles from care” is the slogan etched on the entryway to the northern beach town of Manly. It sounds a bit New Age, but has actually been in place since 1940, when a steamship company served the resort area.


We’re loving the glorious blue skies and warm weather.

The name, Manly, comes from the observation by Captain Arthur Phillip (who founded Sydney as a penal colony in 1788) that the Aboriginal inhabitants of the cove were confident and “manly.” Little did he realize that centuries later the beach would be crowded with manly men on surfboards.


At Manly and every other beach we’ve visited on this trip, the surf has been rough!

Michael  did some Manly bodysurfing. Swimmers were told to “swim between the flags” in a small area of the beach to avoid riptides.

The lifeguard also warned swimmers about bluebottles, not the cobalt blue glass bottles that Nancy collects, but small “jellyfish.” They’re not actually jellyfish, but siphonophores. Bluebottle sounds so innocuous, but you might know them by the more threatening name, Portuguese Man o’ war.  They’re only about an inch in diameter, but according to the repeated warnings from the lifeguard, “They will hurt…bad! You just have to wait an hour or so until the pain is gone.” Up to 10,000 stings are reported each year on eastern Australian beaches. Ouch!


Bluebottle aka Portuguese Man o’ war. These guys seemed to like to swim between the flags too!

We visited Bronte Beach, one we hadn’t seen on earlier trips to Sydney, and Nancy’s new favorite. This is three beaches in one. Surfers and boogie-boarders can enjoy the open ocean. Swimmers can use the “pool.” It is salt water in an enclosed pool with sea water flowing in.


Swim laps with the sound of the surf but without the challenge of avoiding being swept out to sea.

Seniors and babies can use the protected rock baths.


Water only waist deep and slightly warmer than the open beach. A few little fish too.


And Bronte has great lawn space and picnic areas too. Can’t beat it!

The area has great views. Bronte is along a 6-kilometer clifftop coastal walk from Coogee Beach heading north. We did about 2.5 kilometers, plenty in the intense heat.


View looking back at Bronte and Tamarama beaches from the coastal walk. It’s hard to leave, but there’s always something just as nice around the next headland.

We followed the trail along the ocean to Bondi Beach, one of the most famous surfing spots in the world.


Along the coastal walk to Bondi: This is the ultimate Bikram (hot) yoga. Totally sustainable, powered by solar energy.


More oceanside lane swimming.

Interesting bit of Bondi history: “Black Sunday” was a sad day in February 1938, with five people killed and over 250 rescued when waves pulled people from the beach into the ocean.


The kids went boogie boarding here on our Sydney trip in 1998. No need for a riptide rescue.

Watsons Bay is another popular spot, not only for people, but for pelicans.


Wonder what they’re saying to each other.

It’s a nice walk to the Hornby lighthouse on South Head, passing Lady Bay Beach, a nude beach along the way. Yes, there were a couple nudists (no photos). They were being heckled by people on a harbor tour boat moving past.


This 1870s cannon is here to protect the harbor from potential raids by Americans who might steal Australia’s gold.

After the heat of the hike, we stopped to cool off at Doyles, a family-run institution in Watsons Bay since 1885.


Great beer! And we got to keep the coozie. That’s a plumeria in the bloody Mary. They grow on 40-foot trees here.

All these beaches are accessible by bus or ferry from the heart of Sydney. In fact, once we took 8 trips on our Opal transportation cards, fares to the beach were free! Can’t beat that.


On this Saturday, we saw several regattas of large groups of Laser sailboats, just like ours at Keuka.

The water was in the high 60s/low 70s, so we didn’t spend very much time swimming. We will have plenty more opportunities as we move north (toward the equator).





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2 Responses to Sydney Beaches – February 2015

  1. Magnificent beaches.


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