Locals’ Guide: Top 5 tips for surviving winter in Bondi Beach

“CALIPO, CALIIIIIIPO, Coca Coooooola,” shouts the Brazilian backpacker, carrying a small ice box filled with chilled delights.

“CAALLLIIIIPO!!” she screams.

Lying face down on your towel and doing your best to avoid her eye contact, you become distracted by another sound. A constant tapping. Pick, pock, pick, pock… Paddle bats, belonging to a couple of lobster-pink, English tourists who have positioned themselves along the shoreline, between the flags, and in everybody’s way.

Loud children, from a family seated nearby, run past flicking sand onto your freshly sun-screened body. Smiling politely, as the family faux-pologise, you try brushing the mess from your skin but instead create a gritty paste that will almost certainly set like concrete. Only a dip in the ocean can help you now.

Standing to go wash off, a frisbee whirs by your face, and your arms flail protectively above your head. A small group of cargo-wearing Canadians laugh mockingly at you as the Calipo lady rushes to your side, thinking she’s made a sale.

Welcome to Bondi Beach in the middle of summer.

Fortunately for us locals, winter has finally returned and our coastal suburb has once again been handed back; at least until next Summer.

So while we can, let’s take advantage of the quiet, village-like atmosphere the tourists have left behind and go enjoy all those things we’d usually avoid.

This winter, let’s reclaim Bondi Beach and live like a tourist in our own town.

Below is a Top 5 Locals’ Guide to Surviving Winter in Bondi Beach.

Yoga by the Sea

Sure, it’s a bit chillier than usual but during winter there’s no fighting for space with passive aggressive, Eastern Suburbs yogis. Instead, you’re left with plenty of room to stretch out and Downward Dog to your heart’s content. Let your mind relax and drift away as you unwind the stresses of your life and watch them drift out to sea.

The best part of Yoga By The Sea is definitely the teachers. These people are well-trained, friendly professionals whose patient, calm nature makes the experience enjoyable for everyone, whether you’re a novice or seasoned veteran.

The second best thing about doing yoga here is the flat, outdoor location, perched high on the cliffs at Icebergs overlooking the sparkling Bondi Beach.

During the one-hour class, when you get into certain poses it really feels as though you’re floating above the ocean. Naturally, the class doesn’t go ahead during bad weather but who wants to be dripping wet, shivering in icy temperatures and struggling between Warrior I and Warrior II?

Winter, classes only run on the weekend and the cost ($23.50/session) also includes use of the pool and sauna at Icebergs, should you need a good thawing out post-class.

The City2Surf

Winter doesn’t have to be all about staying inside on the sofa in your animal-print onesie, watching re-runs of The Golden Girls. Instead, this season, you’re going to set yourself a personal fitness goal of participating in the world’s largest race, joining +80,000 other competitors in the 14km “fun run” from Hyde Park to Bondi Beach.

The 2012 race raised +$4 million for 650 different charities. Their goal for 2013 is to break a new record of $5 million. While struggling to conquer your way up ”Heartbreak Hill”, pull your focus to each of these charitable organisations. Think of the smiling faces belonging to each of the people you are helping out by running in the race. This will help you reach the end.

Save the date in your phone right now: Sunday, 11 August, 2013.

To help get you started, the City2Surf website has three different training programs, designed by Rupert van Dongen, an Athletics Australia accredited Level 3 Distance Running coach with 20 years’ experience, which will increase your level of fitness to enable your successful completion of the race. The 14km may seem like an impossible challenge to you right now but it all starts with a single step in the right direction. Wishing you all the very best with this one!

Life Drawing Classes

Chances are that if a cheeky smirk crept across your lips as you began thinking about drawing naked people, you’ve probably never considered attending a life drawing class before. Don’t be afraid though, because there’s nothing raunchy about attending one of these sessions. In the class, you’ll find the other students are people not too dissimilar from you: mothers wanting to take on a side project; arts students wanting to develop their current abilities; easy-going and friendly people who enjoy sharing a laugh and a good glass of wine.

The Art of Happiness is a group in Bondi, specialising in social, arts events. The group is led by artist/teacher Janin Mayer, whose personal goal is “to make art, self-expression and creativity accessible to all, regardless of skill level, or experience”. She’s a lovely lady.

For those who are still wary about trying this out, Janin recommends: ”Leave your worries at the gate and come into a fun world where you can make friends, explore your own creativity and learn a thing or two about art.”

On the other hand, if the drawing part doesn’t tickle your fancy, perhaps you’d be more interested in being a life drawing model. If standing around naked in fixed poses is your cup of tea, well, there’s room for you at The Art of Happiness too. Janin will be happy to hear from you.

Life drawing classes, at The Art of Happiness, run on Tuesday evenings, 7:30pm – 9pm ($20/session), and Saturday afternoons, 1pm – 3:30pm ($30/session).

Bondi Beach BAR Brutes

Bondi Beach is quickly developing its very own version of California’s Muscle Beach; a free, outdoor, beach-side gym that originally derived its name from the strength required to practice acrobatics and bodybuilding there.

Locally, a few personal trainers have formed a group called Bondi Beach BAR Brutes who are part of a “growing international network of street workout and calisthenics groups, focused on promoting a high quality of life, through exercise and nutrition for all age groups,” as detailed on their website.

Founding member Stan Veniaminov says the Bar Brutes “embrace the diverse and health conscious Bondi scene with a wide range of cultural groups, lifestyles and age ranges reflected in [their] membership”.

The council-built space features a variety of bars and benches designed for a range of different exercises using your own body weight to increase body strength and flexibility with movements such as bending, jumping, swinging, twisting or kicking, said Stan.

On the first Sunday of every month, the group gathers at the North Bondi Outdoor Gym to hold competitions in strength and fitness, free and open to anyone interested. The best thing you’ll discover about these people is their welcoming, inclusive nature and their willingness to offer advice or assistance in achieving various fitness goals. They love health and fitness and want to share this passion and enthusiasm to encourage healthier lifestyles in everyone.

Bondi – Bronte Coastal Walk

During the enormously popular Sculpture by the Sea festival, this particular coastal walk is flooded with hordes of slow-moving, zombie-like creatures on their annual pilgrimage, which makes for a treacherous cliff-top experience.

But winter brings an entirely different crowd. People move with a crisp spring in their step as they prance up and down the stairs and along the winding cement and timber paths. People are rugged up and smiling as they pass each other, inhaling the chilled ocean breeze.

On days when the wind is howling and instinct tells you not to venture outside, take the Bondi – Bronte Coastal Walk. Watch the Pacific Ocean frothing about solely for you because no one else will be around to share in this powerful experience.

While staring out to sea, allow your mind to think of rusty shipwrecks laying jagged beneath the surface, and old sailors sharing candlelit tales of nautical lore.

Before you go though, remember the old Scandinavian proverb: There’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing.

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