[SUBW] Trip report - Bondi Beach to Malabar, 27th November 2017.
bstaffor at med.usyd.edu.au
Wed Dec 6 01:13:43 AEDT 2017
SUBW Trip report - Bondi Beach to Malabar, 27th November 2017.
Walkers: Athena (leading), Bruce (writing this report), Wendy,
Michael, and for a short while Gabriel.
We all met up at Bondi beach (except Gabriel who would join us at
Coogee) and set off about 4.30pm to follow the Coast more or less to
The walk requires only one diversion via a street bash where it is not
possible to completely follow the shoreline or cliff top, and that is
just south of Coogee Beach.
So we weaved our way along the scenic track to the first beach,
Tamarama, which at this time of day had only a few people swimming
there. It's also interesting to note the variety of plants that can
grow so close to the sea edge - including Native Pigface (don't know
how it got that name).
There were a couple of Cormorants sitting on the rock shelves by the water.
From Tamarama we remained on the bath to Bronte Beach, and made our
way through the pleasant park there for a water stop. It was there I
realised that I must have left my water bottle at home! So I relied on
a water fountain for a refill, and intended to buy some water when we
After that we made our way to Bronte Baths at the south end of the
beach and the path seems to come to a dead end. Not so! Athena showed
us the way up the cliff (fairly steep but relatively short and with
good hand and footholds) until reaching the top. We found ourselves at
the top of the deep cutting which took the former Bronte tramline to
the beach (before the clowns of the NSW Labor Government of the 1950's
closed the line), but is now Calga Place. It is quite a steep cutting
and has actually been heritage listed. I provide a link to a photo of
it at the end of this report.
From there we continued along the cliff top (which is not actually a
formed track because it is not easy to access) and then reached the
board walk at the edge of Waverley Cemetery. It is not possible to
follow this boardwalk its whole length as a long section is under
repair due to storm damage in 2015. So a diversion through part of the
Cemetery is needed. Noted the head stones of people who nowadays would
be regarded as dying before their time (in their late 50's or 60's)
but common back 100 years ago. That was when people smoked like
chimneys and got early heart attacks, or succumbed to diseases like TB
or Polio which are rare nowadays thanks to vaccines and antibiotics.
So after that sobering experience of the Cemetery, we continued along
the coast to Clovelly Beach, a favourite of Athena's. It is a good
beach for families with children as it is rather protected from big
waves. There were more people swimming there.
At this point we realised we were a bit behind time, so Athena called
Gabriel, who would be waiting for us at Coogee, to advise him we could
be 20 minutes late.
We crossed the sands and continued following the coast along a
circuitous route which took us around Gordon's Bay and eventually we
reached Coogee Beach about 6.30pm and found Gabriel.
Coogee was break time and we went up the street to buy take-aways from
an Indian shop (and I got some water). Then back to the beach to eat
our food. Then Athena, Wendy and Michael went to get some ice creams.
We spent almost an hour at Coogee, including our "shopping". So far
the walk had been overcast but no sign of rain. When I checked the
weather radar however, there was rain approaching from the south west
and had come as far as The Shire and Botany Bay. We decided to be
prepared form rain - just in caes, but it turned out that the rain
stopped in The Shire and we didn't get any. Even so it got cool enough
for Athena to put on her jumper.
It was 7.30 by the time we left Coogee which gave us just 15 minutes
to sunset, and then another 30 minutes (about 8.15pm) to dusk, the end
of twilight (or "Civil twilight" as it is called - more about that
Gabriel expressed some concern about having to walk in the dark, and
decided not to continue on.
At the southern end of the beach the track starts to rise, and the
girls took advantage of the last loo stop available util Maroubra.
Just as we started to continue, Athena spotted a rat drinking from the
runoff of a tap in the bushes (hard to see in the failing light).
There was something unusual about this rat; it was not long and slim
like a Common Black rat, and also had a short tail. It fitted the
description of the Australian Native Rat. It didn't hang round however
for further inspection.
Just a bit further south we walked through the South Coogee Wetlands
and we could hear the croaking of several frogs (Wendy observed how
unusual it was to have frogs so close to a city). And it is the normal
habitat of native rats...
The track continues along the cliff tops until Bunya Parade where it
passes through a narrow passageway between house to Cuzco Street. This
is where the street bash starts as the cliff line can't be followed
So it was up to Malabar Road, then down to the end of Liguria Street
where there is another narrow passageway between houses than some
steps down to the rock shelf at Lurline Bay.
There is no path here at all, you just walk along the rock shelf (I'm
not sure you can do it at high tide; on our night it was almost low
tide). By then it was dusk and Wendy got out her torch to see her way.
There was just barely light enough to make out the way across the
rocks. Suddenly a concrete path occurs and that eventually takes to
the north end of Maroubra Beach.
(I would point out for those people who seem to rely on Google Maps
and GPS systems, that it doesn't know about Lurline Bay. Type it in,
and you won't find it! This is why you shouldn't rely entirely on a
At this point I realised that I had a bit less than 10 minutes to get
the last bus from Maroubra Beach that would connect up with my hourly
train service at Central. I had advised Athena earlier that I might
have to bail out at Maroubra Beach at this time,otherwise I wouldn't
get home until after midnight.
So I said goodbye to Athena, Wendy and Michael there, who continued on
I got the 8.54 bus to Maroubra (formerly Maroubra Junction) and
changed to a Railway bus there. Back in the days when I went to UNSW
the 393/395 were the "Cinderella" bus routes along Anzac Parade to
Central. But now, it it well patronised even at that time of night.
Anyway the bus got me to Central with 15 minutes to spare before my
train left. Along the way I noticed just how well advanced is the
progress of construction on the Light Rail tramline from Kingsford.
There's no photos as the overcast weather and the lack of light were
not conducive to scenic photography.
Here is an article and photo of the Bronte tramway cutting today,
shows how deep it is, and helps to explain why walking along the
clifftop as we did is safer than using the road:
What is "Civil twilight"? It is the period between sunset and dusk
when it is still possible to do outdoor activities without artificial
light. In most of Australia it is only about 30 minutes, which can be
a surprise to some of our Northern Hemisphere students who can have up
to 2 hours of twilight in their country. Need to keep that in mind on
bushwalks that end late.
There were no "no shows" by the way.
Thanks to Athena for an interesting walk.
Besides being a life-long Sydneysider I saw things that were new to me.
More information about the SUBW