Working Man’s Beach — Bondi

Bondi Beach is the closest beach to Sydney, only 7 km (5 miles) from the center and on public transport.  It’s a 1.5 KM long crescent of sand between two headlands.  Bondi is an aboriginal word for “water breaking.”  Rebellious workers made their way here on weekends at the end of the 19th century against the desires of their “betters” (or “Wowsers” in Aussie speak) who thought ocean swimming allowed for far too much display of the human form for the country’s moral good.  They lost and by the beginning of the 20th century body surfing, and later surf boarding, became a big craze.

With that came a great development in Australian civil society, the Bondi Beach Surf Lifesavers.  The lifesavers movement started at Bondi in 1903 and the red and yellow capped lifeguards have been volunteering to protect the beach since then.  The day we were there the lifesavers were holding a fundraising breakfast.  Giant grills cooked up hundreds of sunny side up eggs at a crack.

The beach has free sheltered salt water pools for kids and people who do not want to tackle the surf (although surf was definitely not up last Sunday) and it is shark safe.  A net stretched between the headlands protects the beach from sharks.  There has not been an attack since 1929.

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