Smouldering honeyed sand under bare feet; bronzed surfers riding aquamarine waves; hard, fit bodies donning itty bitty teeny weenie bikinis; smiling lifeguards and a scorching hot day. This pretty much constitutes the quintessential Bondi Beach image, right? Well, not today.
Sydney’s Bondi Beach is undoubtedly Australia’s most well known stretch of sand – the Kim Kardashian of beaches, if you will. It lies a mere eight kilometres from Sydney’s main business district, attracting over one million visitors each year, and a whopping 40, 000 on Christmas day – an astonishing feat considering it measures only one kilometre in length.
But on this particular visit to Bondi I wasn’t interested in the sand or the surf, but the ice rink erected on Bondi’s foreshore.
Bearing in mind Sydney’s average winter temperatures rarely fall below 10 degrees Celsius, and the fact snow has not fallen in the Sydney city region since 1836 the rink was somewhat of a spectacle, and most defiantly a source of excitement around Bondi.
The Alpine Winter Festival Group introduced ‘The Bondi Bergstation” icerink as part of the Bondi Winter Magic Festival, which ran between July 16 and 25. So on July 25, I swapped the bikini with a beanie, traded the flip flops for ice skates and enjoyed a completely bizarre and unconventional Bondi Beach experience.
As my friends and I arrived at the beach, eager to get our skates on and rip up the ice, I couldn’t help questioning my surroundings. Did I really drive just twenty minutes from home to get here, or had I somehow managed to eradicate the memory of a thirty hour journey from Sydney to the Swiss Alps?
An energetic, carnival like atmosphere engulfed wanna-be skaters as they entered the rink, anticipating both euphoric glides and painful blunders.
The replica European Alpine Village was made complete with a whimsical makeshift chalet, which I am proud to say was a few (European) beers lighter by the time we’d finished with it!
With a successful happy-hour beer buzz under our belts, and the supreme satisfaction of knowing we somehow remained upright for the duration of our time on the ice, the only thing left to do was clumsily bop along the wooden floorboards to the traditional German band on stage (piano accordions were involved!).
So for those struggling through the chilly winter months, my advice is this: Put on your gloves, step outside, embrace the crisp weather and make the most of this
winter wonderland. You never know where you might end up – maybe even surfing in the desert.