After five years of grimy, beautiful but greyish London concrete I was really craving some of my old Sardinian beach life. Before I even got to Sydney a friend suggested I moved to Coogee: I haven’t looked back ever since.
One of the most well-connected areas of the Eastern suburbs, Coogee exemplifies the massive dejá-vu that Sydney is to my eyes. For someone who has loved California, lived in London, fell for New Orleans and enjoyed chilling in Williamsburg, living in Sydney means being in all places at once and yet in none of them. Coogee reminds me of the Sunset neighbourhood of San Francisco, with a bit of Brighton and a bit of San Diego complete with unique Sydney sunsets.
Coogee’s downhill streets lead to a massive beach which, unlike the other beaches of the Eastern Suburbs, is more for relaxing and tanning than for surfing. Queuing up for a smoothie at the always crowded, uber-successful Melonhead on Coogee Bay Road, a smoothie shack offering my beloved San Diego açai bowls and raw chocolate and date snacks means the weekend is getting started. I generally grab them to have them on the beach or on my way to the coastal walk.
The Coogee Pavilion, owned by popular Sydney hospitality company Merivale, is where the London/Brighton vibes kick in. A great place to write in during weekday lazy mornings, the Pavilion turns into the ultimate party place in the evenings offering drinks, great Italian pizza from Vinnie’s Pizzeria and massive plates of fish and chips. The Coogee Bay Hotel is the area’s other most popular party venue, great for live music and, if unlike me you are drinking, for a big pint (or schooner, in the local vernacular).
I like to spend my mornings writing essays at The Little Kitchen, a French/Aussie café-cum-restaurant serving yummy croissants, fresh yoghurt parfaits and great chai lattes in the morning, or wonderful French-style dishes made with the best Australian produce in the evening.
The vibe in Coogee is very different from my favourite London spots. Out with the hipsters, Coogee is a place for families, cute dogs and many European expats. It might not be as edgy, but it gives me the right silence to work on my essays.
Coogee is also a fantastic place to sweat it out, whether you’re challenging yourself by running on the cliffs or stretching out at a yoga class. I found my happy place at The Living Room Yoga School on Carr Street, right on top of fav brunch spot Barzura. This uber-popular studio is made of just one room and it manages to send you to your own little oasis of peace thanks to its beach views, the light sound of the crashing waves in the background and amazing teachers that will challenge you and stretch you until you go out surrounded in your own little cloud of bliss.
Coogee is connected to the main shopping areas of Bondi Junction and Randwick through buses 313 and 314, while you can get there from Central with buses 372 and M50 or from the Central Business District (CBD) with the 373 and 374. As a Londoner, I must admit the commute was a bit of a shock: gone are the Tube and the London buses, in the face of a bus service that is still quite expensive but not as frequent or reliable. But hey, I live by the beach. So I will stop complaining.
Pictures: Carolina Are