Sydney, Australia: Bondi Beach, fine dining at Bondi Icebergs Club, and Bondi to Bronte Coastal Walk

April 24, 2017
Sydney, Australia: Bondi Beach, fine dining at Bondi Icebergs Club, and Bondi to Bronte Coastal Walk

Lunch at the award-winning Dining Room of the exalted Bondi Icebergs Club with a view of Australia's most photographed pool and Sydney's most famous beach on an unseasonably sunny Autumn afternoon - my day out in Bondi was one of superlatives.

It wasn't the warm ripples of the South China and Caribbean seas nor the calm waters of the Mediterranean, but the dramatic waves crashing against Bondi Beach hardly left me cold. But then again, I'm not a Bondi Iceberg. As part of their initiation into the coveted club, new members honour the long-standing tradition of swimming three Sundays a month in the ocean pool - even during winter. It's a ritual harking back to 1929 when the Bondi Icebergs Club founders made winter swimming a rite of passage for members. "How deep is your love? I really need to know..." Fortunately for the rest of us landlubbing visitors, "Everyone is Welcome" to dip their toes (except on Thursdays, when the pool is being cleaned) in the famous ocean pool, all year round. As much as I love the water and as drawn to the sea as I was, I chose to enjoy the ocean pool from an elevated view with a glass of rosé and fine dining at Icebergs Dining Room, followed by a leisurely, carb-burning (or so I hoped) Bondi to Bronte coastal walk to take in the stunning ocean views. 

BONDI ICEBERGS CLUB ❄ ICEBERGS DINING ROOM
1 NOTTS AVENUE, BONDI, NSW 2026, AUSTRALIA



Sydney, Australia: Bondi Beach, fine dining at Bondi Icebergs Club, and Bondi to Bronte Coastal Walk

Sydney, Australia: Bondi Beach, fine dining at Bondi Icebergs Club, and Bondi to Bronte Coastal Walk

Sydney, Australia: Bondi Beach, fine dining at Bondi Icebergs Club, and Bondi to Bronte Coastal Walk

AMALFI OR AUSTRALIA? A SLIM AARONS-ESQUE SCENE IN SYDNEY

Sunday, the day of rest? Not for the Icebergs. The rules of the club are as solid as their namesake: members who skip one of their required Sunday swims are in violation of the much-discussed Rule 15B, and must write a letter of apology to explain their absence or risk being suspended for a year. Even when the waves are crashing against the pool and swamping it with what is called 'fast water' the Icebergs push on, swimming in shockingly cold waters. It seems that thundering skies, stormy seas, and pounding surf won't stop an Iceberg from completing their minimum 75 swims over a 5-year period. This incredible commitment only seems fitting - the club was founded, in 1929, on the desire of a band of local life savers who wanted to stay fit during the Winter months, and as such it The Bondi Icebergs is the only licensed Winter Swimming Club in the world. The ocean pool, the most photographed of its kind, is an icon on the landscape of Sydney's famous Bondi Beach.

Sydney, Australia: Bondi Beach, fine dining at Bondi Icebergs Club, and Bondi to Bronte Coastal Walk



Sydney, Australia: Bondi Beach, fine dining at Bondi Icebergs Club, and Bondi to Bronte Coastal Walk

ICEBERGS DINING ROOM AND BAR

The club dining room is also a destination, and for those who don't want to get their hair wet a great way to enjoy the famous ocean pool - whether dining outdoors on the balcony perched just over the pool or, like I did, from a window table. There is a bit of an ice-queen vibe about Icebergs Dining Room And Bar - from the modern, minimal yet glamorous decor accented with impossibly white, crisp linens (and chairs woven with natural textiles to try to 'down-to-earth' the whole set up) to the patrons who wouldn't look out of place in a Ralph Lauren catalogue. But, like the swimming club's motto states, there's no snobbery here even if the offerings are fine dining. 

Sydney, Australia: Bondi Beach, fine dining at Bondi Icebergs Club, and Bondi to Bronte Coastal Walk
Sydney, Australia: Bondi Beach, fine dining at Bondi Icebergs Club, and Bondi to Bronte Coastal Walk

The must-haves on the ala carte menu are the fish and seafood selection, sustainably procured from Australia's premium fishing grounds. I started with an unassuming-looking sea-urchin dish whose plain appearance belied a decadently rich, perfectly umami, creamy flesh (not unlike the texture of foie gras). My mains was an expertly prepared ceviche of Kingfish prettily topped with edible flowers, emphasising the delicate and refined nature of the dish. But the most exciting course was pudding - the Onda Bianca (left, below); a bubbling pavlova whose sugary shell revealed a delightful icy inner of green apple, pistacchio, prosecco, and Pepe Saya mascarpone. I washed it all down with an ice-cold rosé while enjoying the airy, sun-soaked ambience of Icebergs Dining Room and Bar - my prime position within of which I became even more grateful as the restaurant filled up rapidly, with each group of diners more glamourous than the last (and this was just a Wednesday afternoon).


Sydney, Australia: Bondi Beach, fine dining at Bondi Icebergs Club, and Bondi to Bronte Coastal Walk

Sydney, Australia: Bondi Beach, fine dining at Bondi Icebergs Club, and Bondi to Bronte Coastal Walk

Nothing works up an appetite than dining with a view of people exercising...

Sydney, Australia: Bondi Beach, fine dining at Bondi Icebergs Club, and Bondi to Bronte Coastal Walk

Sydney, Australia: Bondi Beach, fine dining at Bondi Icebergs Club, and Bondi to Bronte Coastal Walk

Sydney, Australia: Bondi Beach, fine dining at Bondi Icebergs Club, and Bondi to Bronte Coastal Walk



Sydney, Australia: Bondi Beach, fine dining at Bondi Icebergs Club, and Bondi to Bronte Coastal Walk


BONDI TO BRONTE COASTAL WALK

What better way to burn off an indulgent lunch than with a long walk? It's too perfect a coincidence that Bondi Icebergs Club is the starting point of the Bondi to Bronte coastal walk. The walk, which includes Tamarama and Mackenzies Bay, is one of the most iconic walking trails in Sydney. With panoramic views of the South Pacific Ocean (and if you're lucky, sightings of dolphins and whales), enviable beach houses perched on the coastal cliffs, sandstone cliffs, Aboriginal rock carvings, and many a vantage point to stop and catch one's breath; the hour-long coastal walk may not be effortless (unless you're one of the many seasoned runners on the trail) but it's certainly full of beauty to take your mind of the labour.

Other sights on the Bondi to Bronte coastal walk include the beautiful people sunbathing on "Glamarama" aka Tamarama Beach, the landmark Waverley Cemtery at the water's edge, and Bronte’s famous rock pool at the south end of the beach. 

The currents are strong and the waters perilous (as Captain Cook learnt, to his dismay, when he struggle to park his boat on these tumultuous waters) so enjoy the dramatic waves from the safety of the walking trail and its many look out points. Ambitious? Go the extra mile and try to make the coastal to Coogee (Bronte is the halfway point between Bondi and Coogee).




Sydney, Australia: Bondi Beach, fine dining at Bondi Icebergs Club, and Bondi to Bronte Coastal Walk

Sydney, Australia: Bondi Beach, fine dining at Bondi Icebergs Club, and Bondi to Bronte Coastal Walk


Sydney, Australia: Bondi Beach, fine dining at Bondi Icebergs Club, and Bondi to Bronte Coastal Walk
Like the dedicated members of Bondi Icebergs Club, Bondi is more than just a summer destination - whether you're watching swimmers brave the ocean pool in winter, enjoying the coastal walk on a mild day, or fine dining with a view any time of the year. 

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