Twelve months ago I moved from Melbourne to Sydney. I moved from the buzzy Melbourne suburb of Prahran to the sleepy beachside ‘village’ of Bronte.
My life couldn’t be anymore different! For starters, I no longer wake up on a Sunday to find beer bottles lined up on my balcony like skittles. (This could be because my balcony is now four floors up, or because Bronte doesn’t attract the drunkards that Chapel Street does. Who can say).
The pace of Bronte is refreshingly slow – it’s such a peaceful part of the world, and beautiful. It’s scandalously beautiful. Upon moving here, I spent a good five weeks with bruise-riddled arms because I couldn’t stop pinching myself – was this really home? And, while there may not be any nightlife in a one-kilometre radius, Bronte still has a bunch of things to do and see:
1. Spend the day at Bronte Beach
Bondi’s little sister, Bronte Beach has a little something for everyone. There’s the ocean pool for lap swimming, the beach rock pool, the kiosk for snacks, a huge picnic area and ok surf conditions (although I’m told Maroubra is 10x better for die-hard surfers). Bronte Beach is also less crowded than it’s big bastard of a sister Bondi.
Considered a highly hazardous beach, conditions at Bronte Beach can be on the rough side, particularly towards the northern end of the beach. And there’s a pesky rip tide, called the ‘Bronte Express’, to be wary of. This is why most of the time you’ll find me playing among the rocks in the kiddie beach pool, which goes by the unfortunate name of Bogey Hole. Fortunately, I’m yet to find any bogies here.
Given the beach conditions, it’s probably no surprise that the Bronte Surf Life Saving Club was the first club of life saving in the world, saving lives since 1903. Between late September and late April, the red and yellow crew can be seen heroically manning the beach.
My most favourite time to visit Bronte Beach is on a hot summer’s night. When the crowds have packed up their picnic gear and piled into the 379 bus to head home. The beach is quiet, peaceful and, if you’re lucky, you might even get your own lane in the Bronte Baths.
2. Dine at Three Blue Ducks
Bronte is perhaps best known for two things: its beach and Three Blue Ducks. This brunch, lunch and dinner triple threat has built a cult following in the six years it’s been tucked into Bronte’s ‘Top Shops’ on Macpherson Street. But it’s the brunch sitting that gets hectic – you want to get here before 9:30am to beat the crowds. Otherwise, you’re likely to be staring in the face of an hour+ wait. But, the corn fritters, avocado smash and poached eggs are worth it.
Three Blue Ducks | 141 Macpherson Street, Bronte, New South Wales
3. Have brunch in Bronte (but not at Three Blue Ducks)
Sometimes Three Blue Ducks is just too hard. I get it! In which case, you have options. Luckily, Bronte is not short of great brunch cafes where you can tick-off some #majorbrunchgoals.
You can read about my favourite Bronte brunch spots here. But, if you don’t mind a spoiler, my number one go-to is Bellagio Café. Simply because they serve up some of the best avocado smash in the land. I can say that because I have my graduate certificate in avocado smash appreciation.
4. Enjoy a Sunday roast at the Charing Cross Hotel
In the public bar of the Charing Cross Hotel there’s a special each day of the week. Mondays are ‘pie and pint’ day and Tuesdays are ‘2 for 1 pizzas’. But, the best day of the week is Sundays, because there’s a Sunday roast with all the trimmings on offer. Plus, the sirloin of roast beef comes with a side of live music. If a roast isn’t your thing, try a ‘Tamarama-style’ burger – a patty with lettuce instead of the carb-filled bun. Only in the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney! The beer garden, with its green wall and light-up ‘Charo’ sign, is also a nice space for a Sunday sesh.
Charing Cross Hotel | 81 Carrington Road, Waverley, New South Wales
5. Try a smoothie bowl at Bare Naked Bowls
Personally, I think breakfast should come with a side of bacon, not activated cacao buckinis (whatever that is). But, I’m at Bare Naked Bowls quite a bit (because they do a mean coffee, which is hard to find in Sydney). Not only is everyone here dressed in lululemon and a denim jacket, but they also seem to be really getting into their smoothie, acai and brekky bowls. So, they must be good.
Bare Naked Bowls | 145 Macpherson Street, Bronte, New South Wales
6. Walk through Waverley Cemetery
Stop it! I know, this sounds utterly creepy. Hanging out in a cemetery is not on my top 1000 things to do list either, but Waverley Cemetery is quite beguiling. It’s state heritage-listed for starters. It also has some of the best real estate in Sydney, along with imposing Victorian and Edwardian monuments, statues and graves neatly spilling down the hill towards the ocean. If that’s not enticing, then just read who’s buried here.
Waverley Cemetery | Corner St Thomas and Trafalgar streets, Bronte, New South Wales
7. A picnic in Bronte Park
Bronte Park has everything you need for a serious picnic at the beach. There’s barbeques, toilets, picnic shelters, lots of trees and plenty of grass where you can put up your own shade tent and picnic paraphenelia. To fit in, you’re going to want to play some kind of ball, listen to music from a portable Bluetooth speaker and try to hide your alcohol consumption from the police. (Bronte Beach is a dry zone).
8. Wander up Bronte Gully
After lunch in Bronte Park, go for a walk up into Bronte Gully and be amazed that this little spot of nature is hiding in suburbia. At the end of the gully, there’s a small waterfall tumbling into a spring – it’s the stuff of romance.
9. Go for a swim in Bronte Pool
There’s something seriously magical about an ocean pool. They’re quintessentially Sydney, and Bronte Baths has to be one of the prettiest (judging by how many sunrise photos on Instagram it warrants). Tucked into the bottom of a steep cliff face, on the southern end of the beach, Bronte Pool is sheltered, free to use and open seven days a week.
10. Dinner at seafood restaurant Moxhe
For seafood so fresh you could believe it’s come straight from the ocean, head to Moxhe for dinner. Chef and owner David handpicks the seafood that morning at the Sydney Fish Market and, for this reason, the menu changes daily. The six-course seafood degustation ($75pp) is the only way to go, and it would be rude not to do the matching wines (an extra $55). This 34-seater restaurant is relaxed, intimate and right at home in Bronte village.
Moxhe | 65B Macpherson Street, Bronte, New South Wales
11. Iggy’s Bread
Iggy’s Bread doesn’t look much from the street. In fact, if it weren’t for the lines snaking out the door, you probably wouldn’t think twice about walking past this artisan bakery on Macpherson Street. Although the luscious smell of freshly-baked bread also gives it away.
Don’t hesitate to join the end of the queue, because the naturally-leavened, hand-cut bread normally sells out by 11am. (If you do miss out, Iggy’s Bread is pretty commonplace on restaurant menus around the Eastern Suburbs).
Inside this small shopfront is a Willy Wonka-like production facility, creating an assortment of breads, from light rye to dark rye and bagels to brioche. Take your pick.
Iggy’s Bread | 131 Macpherson Street, Bronte, New South Wales
12. Bondi to Coogee coastal walk (via Bronte)
Winding and bending with the curves of the coastline, the Bondi to Coogee walk links some of Sydney’s most famous beaches. Bronte Beach is the mid-way point of this six-kilometre coastal trek, so you can either start here, stop here or detour here.
What are your favourite things to do in Bronte? Share below.