World famous beaches
The beaches of Sydney are world famous, and justly so. But this wasn’t always the case. Until just before the First World War swimming was actually banned on the beaches between sunrise and sunset. All this came to an end when a local newspaper editor staged a public one-man protest, and walked into the sea fully clothed. The police wisely decided against prosecution. This tradition of clothed bathing lasted some time. For many years, men were not allowed to swim unless their chests were covered. Fortunately this practice has now ceased for men, and is fast dying out for women too.
The ocean beaches north of Sydney begin at Manly, which can be reached by ferry. These beaches have good surf, as do those south of Sydney on the coast. The southern beaches are more accessible and quicker to reach from the city centre. These run all the way down to Botany Bay, and by far the best-known is Bondi.
All Sydney’s ocean beaches are manned by the famous lifeguards. But you are only allowed to swim between the flags. There’s good reason for this: the undertow of the surf can be dangerous. Then of course there’s the vexed question of sharks. All the ocean beaches have shark nets of some kind, but these don’t actually seal off the beach. Topless bathing for women is increasingly wide-spread, but not on all beaches. Just use common sense.
The harbour beaches are more accessible, but don’t have surf.
Winter sun: the Sydney, its beaches and coastline are popular with Australians for sun in the Southern Hemisphere winter, September to March.
Find more in: Winter sun