How did this iconic beach get it's name, and why is it so important today?
Bondi A Rich History
It is no surprise to anyone who has been here, that the name Bondi comes from an Aboriginal word which has the same meaning as 'surf'. That word is Boondi, and surf is one of the most alluring of benefits that Bondi offers on a typical hot Australian summer's day.
So popular is Bondi today that properties here can easily cost multiple millions of dollars, as seen in many real estate directory sites. And yet, most of the units, apartments, and townhouses here are anything but new.
But, since so many wealthy Australians now call Bondi home, who was the first to have a dwelling here, by the surf?
That distinction, according to Wikipedia, belongs to a chap named William Roberts, a road builder, who received a parcel of land in this area. Of course, even Mr Roberts, who was seeking to expand upon his holdings here would have been unaware of just how sought after land would eventually become.
Despite his claim to be the first landholder in the area, several decades later, in 1851, a more sizeable allotment would be secured, who were the fortunate new owners?
That distinction fell to the partnership of Edward Smith Hall and Francis O'Brien. Their allotment, which included some of the beachside frontage, amounted to a whopping 200 acres! Had they been alive today, that holding would likely have yielded a return in the hundreds of millions of dollars.
Between 1855 and 1877, O'Brien secured the sole ownership of the parcel from Hall, who was actually his father in law, thereby becoming owner of the new 'O'Brien Estate'. O'Brien initially had good intentions, opening the area to the public for picnics and other uses. However, Bondi, popular then as it is now, soon caused the benevolent O'Brien to try to limit public access, however, the authorities intervened and ensured that the area remained in public use.
In reality, Bondi is not head and shoulders above it's neighbour beaches in terms of beauty. Coogee, Maroubra, and even niche bays like Clovelly, are areas that probably match Bondi for appeal. So, why is Bondi on the lips of people around the World when the others aren't?
The reason is that Bondi has now become a brand of global worth. If you mention beach in Australia to anyone from the far flung corners of the World, Bondi will likely be the first place that they can think of. It's property prices reflect not the intrinsic value of the sand and water, but the brand that encapsulates those assets.
Parking in Bondi can be somewhat difficult. Most parking is paid by meter. During Covid-19 authorities did allow a period of free parking, but this has now ended. The problem is, for anyone who balks at paying for parking, that even if you are comfortable paying for short periods here, you may not find a space! The area is THAT popular.
As such, if you want to schedule a visit to say that you have been here, come early. However, if you are simply after just a great beach, better parking is available at Maroubra, just a couple of miles away.
Bondi is worth a visit anytime of the year. However, if you are going for a swim, the months of October to April are the best, why? The water temperature is dictated by the 'East Australia Current', made famous in the Hollywood animated film 'Finding Nemo'.
This current elevates the summer sea temperatures to well over 20 degrees Celsius. However, in winter, the current changes 180 degrees in direction, dragging up cooler waters from the South. Because of this, going for a dip in the May to August months means immersing yourself in temperatures that are as low as 15 degrees Celsius (High Fifties Fahrenheit))!
Summing It Up
As brands go, Bondi is awesome. For practical beach purposes, visit one of it's neighbours.
Despite the pros and cons here, it is well worth visiting Bondi. It has lifeguards, surf, white sandy beaches, and cafe's and restaurants...so it is not lacking in amenities. Even if, during your Australian holiday, you only spend one day at Bondi Beach, it will be a day well spent!