Coastal Walks


Walk 1:
Bondi Beach
to Bronte

Walk 2:
Bronte Beach to
Waverley Cemetery

There are two scenic walks from Bondi Beach towards the south. These walks offer great views of the sea, you visit popular beaches such as Tamarama and Bronte, and you get to see a number of historic spots.

There are plenty of places along the way where you can stop to admire the views. During the summer these walks are packed with tourists from all over the world.

Walk 1 - Bondi Beach to Bronte
Bondi Beach via coast to Bronte, returning same route. Approximately 2.5 kms (one way). Medium grade, some steep steps. Picnic areas with toilets at Bondi. Picnic areas with barbecue, kiosk and toilets at Tamarama and Bronte. Bus 440 (previously 378) - Bronte Beach to Eastern Suburbs Railway, Bondi Junction.

The walk begins at the Bondi Pavilion. Walk down to the beachside promenade, and continue towards South Bondi.

Points of Interest:

1. Bondi Pavilion: As "surf bathing" gained popularity Waverley Council recognised the need for improved beach facilities. The foundation stone for Bondi Pavilion was laid in 1928. The Pavilion, part of an overall scheme for beach improvements, contained dressing areas for 12,000 people, turkish baths, shops, gymnasium and ballroom. A huge crowd of 200,000 attended the official opening of the Bondi Beach Improvement Scheme. Ceremonies included brass bands, bugle bands and fife and drum bands, aeroplane stunts and a parachute jump. King Neptune landed from a surf boat in front of the Pavilion. There was also a procession led by Life Savers.

2.Surf life saving was started in Australia. The Bondi Surf Bathers' Life Saving Club was formed in 1906. Both Bondi S.B.L.S.C. and Bronte S.L.S.C. claim to be the world's oldest surf life saving clubs. North Bondi S.L.S.C. was formed the following year.

On 6th February, 1938, to become known as "Black Sunday", life savers carried out their most famous rescue operation. Several freak waves swept up onto Bondi Beach dragging beachgoers out into boiling seas. Life savers rescued more than 300 people that day. Five people drowned.

Map of Walk 1 3. The famous Bondi Icebergs Club is above the Bondi Baths at the southern end of the beach. Full club membership can only be attained by swimming 3 Sundays out of 4 from May to September (winter) for 5 years. The club has approximately 600 members. Visitors are welcome.

4. Views from Mackenzies Point south to Maroubra. The sandstone cliffs form part of the Hawkesbury sandstone belt and date back to the Triassic Age 190-225 million years B.C. Surrounding land, known as Mackenzies Waverley Dairy, was used for grazing in the 1880s.

5. Aboriginal rock carvings in Marks Park were regrooved in 1962. Governor Philip, Sydney's founding Governor noted the Cadigal aboriginal people roamed the land from South Head at the harbour entrance, to Sydney Cove, including today's Waverley Municipality.

6. Swimming at Mackenzies Bay is dangerous, the beach is not patrolled and there are hidden rocks.

7. Tamarama beach frontage was bought by David Fletcher (later Waverley's first Mayor) and the headland became known as Fletcher's Glen. Tamarama's natural beauty was threatened in 1887 when "The Aquarium" was built, an amusement park offering a variety of displays and entertainment. In 1906 "Wonderland City" straddled the headland. This extravaganza included an airship and miniature railway. Today Tamarama still retains much of its original charm, a small beach used mainly by locals.

8. The walk finishes at North Bronte cliffs.

Vegetation along the cliffs includes:
Coprosma - low growing shiny leaf plant;
Lagunaria - Norfolk Island hibiscus;
Metrosideros - red bottle brush;
Melaleuca - tea tree, white bottle brush.

Reproduced by kind permission of Waverley Council.

Walk 2 - Bronte Beach to Waverley Cemetery
Bronte Beach to Waverley Cemetery returning via St. Thomas Street to Bronte Road. Approximately 2.8kms (return). Medium grade. Picnic areas with barbecues, kiosks and toilets at Bronte Beach.

Points of Interest:

1. Bronte S.L.S.C. perched on top of the cliffs at the beach's northern end was the first club to use a surf boat for life saving.

2. Bronte Baths were opened in 1887. Regulations stated that "Gentlemen could bathe between daylight and 10a.m. and from 4p.m. 'till dark each day. Ladies were welcomed from 10a.m. to 4p.m. daily except Sundays and Public Holidays, reserved exclusively for men".

Bronte "bogey hole" next to the baths is a natural swimming hole. Some rocks have been added for extra safety. It is thought that "bogey" is an aboriginal word meaning "to bathe".

3. Trams ran down to Bronte Beach via this cut through the sandstone, completed in 1911.

4. Waverley Cemetery was established in 1877. The first burial took place that year. The Cemetery is a virtual history book, containing graves of many famous Australians:

Map of Walk 2 Henry Kendall - a poet (location: Section 6, 320 Vault D). "Awake him not; surely he takes his fill of deep and liquid rest, forgetful of all ill" is inscribed on Kendall's monument. Kendall spent most of his life in the bush, in northern New South Wales, and was brought to Sydney suffering from consumption from which he never recovered. His best selling work was "Songs from the Mountains".

Henry Lawson - described as poet, journalist and patriot (location: Section 3, G 516). The Bulletin summed up his story: "His work sold moderately well, but not well enough to make his lifepath easy and he was continually faced with the fact that a continent that praised his work from shore to shore had scarcely a home to offer him where he might live free from want". He was given a state funeral.

Dorothea Mackellar - poet (location: Section 6, 832-833 Vault L). Born at Rose Bay, she wrote her first poem when only 19 - "My Country". It was first published in London in 1908 then reprinted in Sudney. It became the most popular poem of its time.

Lawrence Hargrave - aeronautical pioneer, inventor and explorer (location: Section 9, 1117). As early as 1887, Hargrave built several types of engines powered by petrol and compressed air and in 1893 invented the box kite. Hargrave "flew" in 1894, by attaching himself to a huge four kite construction attached to the ground by piano wire. When the first European aircraft were built, they used Hargrave-type box kites for their supporting surface.

The cemetery is open from sunrise to sunset, and its office hours are 9-5 Mon to Fri, 9-3 Sat. Visit their web page at or phone 9665 4938. There are guided tours, especially during the winter months.

5. From Bronte's hilltops you can see federation houses facing the sea.

6. Bronte House was designed by colonial architect Mortimer Lewis as his own home. However, because of financial difficulties he was forced to sell it before the building was completed. Lowe, a member of the NSW Parliament completed the house in 1845. Waverley Council acquired Bronte House in 1948. The house has been restored and is open to the public once a year. In the 1860s it was noted "the residence was sheltered by verandahs flanked by 4 round towers. The drawing room overlooked the bay. A nearby fresh water well was supplied by springs, and lawns and flower gardens led into shady walks down to the sandy beach."

7. A waterfall at the top of Bronte park feeds the stream flowing through lush vegetation, made up of Coral treees, Eucalyptus, Norfolk Island Pines and Moreton bay Figs. Many native finches inhabit the lower Banksia.

Reproduced by kind permission of Waverley Council.

Last Updated - 19th October 2016
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