April 6th, 2006:
Every day in Sydney has been warm, dry and sunny and I haven't seen rain since that one day on Fraser Island, so with that in mind I figured it was time I started checking out the local beaches and first on the list was Australia's most famous beach, Bondi Beach.
Now, a British girl in the hostel went there yesterday and she described seeing two guys being very, er, "amorous" together in the shallow water while a family stared on in horror... Hmmmm...
Still, due to it being an easy trip on the train, I decided I'd risk it. However, while waiting on the train platform I was chatting with a railway worker and he described Bondi as "Australia's WORST beach"! Hmmmm again...
I pressed on and arrived at the beach about a half an hour later. Was it a mind blowing experience? Well, considering that I had heard of Bondi back home on the other side of the planet, and they have a TV series here set on the beach ("Bondi Rescue"), I was expecting great things: however, its somewhat anticlimactic in real-life. Scarborough Beach near Perth was long enough so that it seemed to extend out to the horizon. Bondi, on the other hand, resembled a large cove. I didn't spot any "alternative" couples, nor were there any families but there were lots of surfers and also people whom, it appeared, were permanent fixtures on the beach, moving just enough so that they always faced the sun so as to enrich their already impossibly-dark tans.
The nearby town was clean and had a modern multi-story shopping mall. Despite having never been a major shopping fan, I decided I'd give it another try to see if its something I could get used to. I aimed for a shop which appears to be the most prolific TV advertiser among shops, "Target". Target is predominantly a clothes shop and is housed in a big, well-appointed premises. It got off to a poor start, though, when there was no indication of where the Men's department was: the Women's department was clearly visible, but the Men's required a mini-trek to find. Once I had selected an item, the next problem raised its head: there appeared to be no Men's fitting room... after another trek which turned out to be fruitless, I had to resort to asking for directions (in a shop!) After looking at me like I had two heads, the shop assistant told me that to get to the Men's fitting rooms I had to go through the Women's lingerie department (obviously). Having survived all that, it was time to pay at the till, where the last bonus awaited: I had to let store staff open and examine my back pack to make sure I wasn't stealing anything(!). I didn't think it possible, but shopping as an activity has managed to become even more irritating and alienating!
So, Bondi was anticlimactic. However, Manly beach, also nearby, is definitely worth the trip, so I hear, with many tourists here in the hostel going back to Manly beach repeatedly. As long as I stay away from "Target" stores there, it should be vastly better than the Bondi experience.