There is one way of seeing Australians as laid-back 
people – all “no worries” and “she’ll be right” and partial 
to happy hours and long weekends. But this view flies 
in the face of daily reality in Sydney, which bursts to life in the morning, every morning, 
as locals rise early to swim, 
run, surf or salute the sun. 

It’s a city that glitters brightest 
on the water so a dream day involves winding along its ocean and harbour shores. 
The Bondi to Bronte Coastal Walk hugs the sandstone cliffs that meet the Pacific Ocean, taking in Bondi’s postcard beach and Icebergs ocean pool before travelling over rocks to Mackenzies Bay – some years 
a cove, some years a sandy beach but always unofficially known as “dog beach”. Then 
it’s on to tiny Tamarama 
Beach, the early-1900s site 
of Wonderland City with its 
seal pond, Alpine Slide and an elephant called Princess Alice. Now nicknamed Glamarama, it’s where Sydney’s fit and fashionable sun themselves 
and play volleyball but only sometimes swim, its rips 
being so treacherous. Around the bend, Bronte Beach is where Nippers swarm on Sundays 
and old men tan themselves leathery at the ocean baths.

Like so many things Australian, the Bondi to Bronte Coastal Walk doesn’t tout its wares; 
the journey continues well beyond Bronte – via the stone angels of Waverley Cemetery – to Clovelly, which was declared an aquatic reserve 
after a celebrity groper named Bluey was speared in 2002 (although it might have been another, less famous fish). At Clovelly Bowling & Recreation Club, the schooners are cheap and you can play lawn bowls overlooking the Pacific before combing the beach 
for shells so small and perfect, 
it’s as though a collector has dumped their stash. You could snorkel at Gordons Bay then continue to Coogee Beach, where children are coated in ice-cream and white sand, backpackers slackline between Norfolk Island pines and, in the backyard of a suburban home, that elephant, Princess Alice, 
lies. Everybody throngs to the Hemmes family’s Coogee Pavilion, where there’s ping-pong on 
the ground floor and only 
adults in the rooftop bar.

But this is a city with another marvellous body of water so if you can turn your back on the Pacific, take a taxi to Catalina, 
at Rose Bay, where pelicans 
fluff their plumes and look hopeful, making themselves as comfortable on the deck as the wealthy diners inside. Here you can embrace the sparkly joys 
of a piece of Sydney Harbour where there are no bad tables.

Then, if this perfect Sydney 
day has to end, catch a ferry to Circular Quay before sunset. The harbour seduces, whether you have 
to squint in the sun or huddle 
from rain, but at night it’s 
aglow, studded with the lights of small boats, and there’s no better way to experience the spectacular lightshow than 
on the ferry. Wander up to the Sydney Opera House, where 
you can drink wine right under architect Jørn Utzon’s sails at 
the Cured & Cultured counter 
at Bennelong. It means climbing 72 granite steps to claim a stool but, as with anything in Sydney, the exertion is worth it.

Image: Nikki To

SEE ALSO: Sydney Rooftop Bars to Hit This Summer

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