Wake up to Bondi’s best cafés, shops and things to do
ON THE COOL scale, Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs have been the Britney to the Inner West’s RiRi for quite some time. But in 2017, could the East finally be shedding the clichés of Bondi hipsters, backpackers and botox?
As the resident population in these ’burbs continues to grow, many wayfarers from the Inner West are washing up on our Eastern Beaches. Full disclosure – I am one of them. In 2012 I traded train lines for tan lines, relocating from Newtown to Coogee in pursuit of cheaper rent, friendly non-junkie neighbours and that gorgeous babe called the beach. While I initially felt quite isolated from the rest of the world, I was glad to be rid of the gnawing claustrophobia that that inner city living brought out in me, and felt a liberating anonymity walking around among the young families and backpackers.
“I didn’t realise the benefits of living by the beach,” says Kate Neill, another former Newtowner who last year found herself relocating to Bondi (for love). “I never thought I’d enjoy it as much as I am… The peace and quiet, the peace of mind and the pure beauty of the beach is worth the 333 bus and the $40 Ubers.
“My booze intake and my partying has changed dramatically,” says the Chippendale hairdresser, who went from chain-smoking and day-drinking to morning swims and hitting the gym. “I needed a break and a change. I’m 31 now and I can’t drink, smoke and do drugs the way I used to. Living in the centre of Newtown, I was out five nights a week.”
DJ and designer Chris Rawson wound up living in Bondi after a break-up left him in need of a room. The 2026 postcode hasn’t changed his partying ways, but the recovery is a game changer. “I drink a lot, but I always tell my friends that it’s much nicer to wake up hung over in Bondi than it is in the Inner West. You’ve got sea breeze, you’ve got the ocean right there and you can have a swim.”
“There’s something to be said about waking up and being able to look out across the road and see nothing but ocean and blue sky,” agrees Neill. Her favourite thing to do in Bondi is hit Icebergs pool on a quiet day. “The sauna there is Sydney’s best kept secret. It’s $6.50 for entry and it feels amazing being able to lay out on that beautiful white concrete and look out over the entire beach.
“I feel ecstatic being out in the water,” says my neighbour, Jess Beck, who relocated from Erskineville to South Coogee with her band Pirra. Also the lead singer of swing ensemble Electro Alley, Beck regularly gigs in the East, but still manages to pull an Inner West crowd. “Our home is Spring Street Social in Bondi Junction, and Jam Gallery next door. A lot of our friends still live in Newtown but they make the trek over. It’s unpretentious, even when we’re not playing, it’s where we go for a drink.”
“It's a very different scene,” says Neill, who made a conscious decision to “not become a Bondi socialite” and prefers hitting the local RSL or chilling with friends and a bottle of wine on North Bondi’s grassy knoll over fighting for tables at the bars and clubs in the area. “What stopped me from moving closer to the beach before is that I thought the place was full of wankers. Inner West or Inner City people have this misconception that everyone towards the East is really self-involved and high on cocaine all the time… but there are assholes everywhere.”
Sure, you can hate on the East for its lush scenery, ridiculously good-looking residents and fancy restaurants…or you can drink the kombucha, come over to the sunny side, and do your own thing.