Bus: All buses from the city start from Circular Quay and the ride to Bondi Beach takes 45 minutes. The starting point is in Alfred Street, close to ferry wharf number 2 (opposite Customs House and the AMP buildings).
The bus may be numbered 380 or 333 with the destination showing North Bondi, Dover Heights, Watsons Bay or Bondi Beach. Collectively this is called "the 380 bus" and all buses go to Bondi Beach. Buses go along Elizabeth Street next to Hyde Park, turning left at Liverpool street, up to Taylor Square, thence to Paddington and Bondi Junction via Oxford Street.
The 389 bus also starts from Circular Quay at the same bus stop, and reaches North Bondi via the back streets of Paddington. It does not go along the waterfront at Bondi Beach, instead it goes along Glenayr Avenue, about two blocks back from the beach.
Train: The stations in order are Central, Town Hall, Martin Place, Kings Cross, Edgecliff and Bondi Junction. The train ride takes 11 minutes from Town Hall to Bondi Junction. Then change into a 380, 381, 382 or 333 bus for a 15 minute ride to the beach.
Bus: Catch any bus marked 380 or 333 but make sure it's marked Circular Quay not Bondi Junction. The trip to Circular Quay takes 45 minutes on the 380 bus, and about six minutes less on the 333. All 381 and 382 buses terminate at Bondi Junction.
Train: Catch any bus (Bondi Junction or Circular Quay) and change to join the train at the Bondi Junction interchange. Follow the crowds. This is generally quicker on weekdays especially in peak hour, but not as scenic as staying on a bus for the full trip to the city.
In the last two years there has been a strong push to make the buses pre-pay, especially in the city and at Bondi Junction interchange during the day so that you need a pre-paid ticket to ride. These are purchased at most newsagents since the drivers do not sell tickets on the bus. At the time of writing this, you can still pay your fare direct to the bus driver after 7pm, but never on a 333 bendy-bus which are pre-pay only. There are vending machines in the Bondi Junction Interchange if the shops are closed.
Bus fares are calculated according to the number of sections you travel. It's not a single price system, and it's a bit complex for tourists but briefly from Bondi Beach it's $2.10 to Bondi Junction (it's called 1 or 2 sections), $3.50 for Paddington and Darlinghurst (3 to 5 Sections) and $4.50 right down to Circular Quay. However all the locals buy multi-trip tickets because there is a discount of about 20% and you save heaps of time by buying in bulk.
A new fare structure called MyZone was introduced on 18th April, 2010. In a charlatan's attempt to fool the public into thinking that they actually owned the bus system, bus tickets that were once different colours all became the same colour and were renamed to MyBus-1, MyBus-2 and MyBus-3. The public relations team forgot to notice that normal people feel a real goose asking for a My-Bus instead of a Travel-Ten. Then they told us it was "easier, simpler fares" and gave us the the MyTrain, the MyFerry and even the new MyMulti. It's all explained in their 48 page booklet. Overall, the number of different tickets has dropped, but you have to read 48 pages to figure it out. After endless transport fiascos and many years of lobbying by commuters, the doomed Labor Govt was thrown out of office.
The TravelTen series of MyBus tickets give 10 bus rides for the price of 8. For Bondi Beach to the City you need a MyBus-3 costing $36.00; for Bondi Beach to Bondi Junction you need the MyBus-1 costing $16.80. There is also a MyBus-2 costing $28.00 for travel up to five sections, use this for Paddington and Taylor Square. Note that there is a Section at the Royal Hotel on Bondi Road, so above this point you only need the cheaper MyBus-2 to get to Circular Quay and back.
There is also the MyMulti Day Pass (previously called a DayTripper) - a $21 ticket covers unlimited buses, trains and all government ferries for one day - this is ideal if you suddenly decide on that ferry ride to Manly. And it now includes the private buses that operate in outer suburbs, and trains to the Blue Mountains etc - well worth checking out for that day trip out of Sydney.
For enquiries ring 131500. Timetables are displayed on posts at most bus stops. There is a wider range of tickets and more restrictions than we can cover here. Most importantly, there are concession tickets for family groups but only on Sundays. Note that the ticket windows at the train station sell bus tickets but the bus drivers do not sell train tickets. And the MyMulti ticket zones are not the same as the three zones for the MyBus 1, 2 and 3 tickets.
Brief advice for tourists: If you are here for more than three days, buy a $43.00 MyMulti-1 Weekly at the nearest newsagent immediately, before catching any bus or train. If you only have one or two days, buy a MyBus-3 TravelTen to 10 trips, travelling to the City and back on any bus.
There are concession fares and tickets for genuine students on their way to classes, and for pensioners. As a tourist, don't bother with these, as the ticket inspectors are very strict on concessions - you might as well have no ticket at all. There is definitely no concession for that dreadful "International Student" card, and no concessions of any sort for overseas "pensioner" or "retired" travellers.
The difference between the bus numbers 380, 381 and 382 is quite small. The 381 bus makes a slight detour to the south off Bondi Road via Denham and Fletcher Streets just up from the beach. The 381 then terminates at Bondi Junction station and does not go to the city. The 380 and the 382 stay on Bondi Road thus saving about two minutes. The 382 is like a 380 but always terminates at Bondi Junction like a 381.
The 333 bendy-bus is an express bus which only stops at about every third stop; such stops are clearly marked. These buses run every 10 minutes during the daytime and save about 9 minutes on a trip from Bondi Beach to Circular Quay. These buses are painted pale blue. You must buy your ticket in advance as the driver does not sell tickets on the bus. The "bendy-bus" is the latest fashion for Sydney Buses.
There is also the blue Bondi Explorer bus. This bus is worth checking out, especially if you want to get an overview of the Eastern Suburbs or visit Coogee Beach. Perfect if you want to do all the tourist things in one day, since you can get on or off at any stop. This bus runs every half hour for most of the day, it arrives at the Bondi Beach stop in Campbell Parade (on the beach side of the street) at 26 and 56 minutes past the hour; just pay the bus driver $39.00 for an all day pass and head for Coogee.
The blue bus runs in a loop - Circular Quay, Watson's Bay, Bondi, Coogee and back to Circular Quay. There are 19 stops and the round trip takes a couple of minutes over two hours. With the same ticket, you can travel on the red Sydney Explorer buses, and you can even make short trips on regular buses right up to midnight. Start early, plan your meal breaks, get your money's worth by travelling the full circuit on both buses for $39. Change between the red and blue buses at Circular Quay.
Basically trains run every 4 minutes during peak hour, every 10 minutes outside peakhour, and every 15 minutes late in the evening and on weekends.
The timetable is fairly easy to remember. On weekdays, a train should leave Bondi Junction every ten minutes on the 08, then 18, 28, 38 etc. These times apply until 9:00 pm at night when later trains run every 15 minutes until 12:30am.
When coming back to Bondi, trains from the City to Bondi Junction pass through Town Hall Station on the 6 minutes past the hour then 16, 26, 36 etc on weekdays until 3pm. Allow a couple of minutes earlier at Central and a couple of minutes later at Martin Place. After about 6:30 there is a train roughly every 10 minutes or better until 8:25pm thence every 15 minutes until 12:10am.
Generally the Sydney train system finishes around midnight. There are a few later trains on Friday at 12:25, 12:40 and 12:55am and on Saturday at 12:25 and 12:55am.
At weekends, the trains run every 15 minutes on 00, 15, 30 and 45 minutes past the hour from Bondi Junction to the City. With this infrequent service, it's much more sensible to stay on the bus at weekends. Last train is 12:30am late Sunday night, and 1:15am late Saturday night.
Train Shambles. It's no wonder the media write constantly about Sydney's trains. Vast quantities of money are being spent but rail travel remains unpleasant and the system continues to decline. If you have an appointment, do not rely on the Sydney rail system as breakdowns are common and trains are often cancelled "for today only". There are virtually no seats on the stations. All rubbish bins were removed as security for the Olympics in the year 2000, and after 10 years a few re-appeared last year. Passengers on train platforms are subjected to a constant barrage of loud recorded announcements, often stating the bleeding obvious, over and over. Smelly smokers are tolerated in non-smoking areas, especially at Strathfield and Central. Newer trains have incessant pre-recorded announcements that help a minority but annoy the majority.
The timetable has been slowed down to make the trains run on time. The trip to Town Hall now takes 11 minutes, but in 1979 it took 8 minutes. The further you travel west, the more often you will see people hurdling the ticket barriers because they don't have a ticket. Your fares, and the recent fare increases, help pay for these athletic evaders.
Rather than fix a few of these obvious problems, CityRail has embarked on strict enforcement of petty rules (except dealing with the smokers) and the previous Labor Government embarked on building an expensive and unnecessary Metro system which has never previously appeared on long-term transport plans and was cancelled at enormous.
I strongly advise tourists coming up from Bondi Beach to catch a bus marked Circular Quay and stay on the bus for a pleasant ride into town. As a tourist you can readily observe that Sydney has, in theory, a fantastic train system, but it might as well be administered by trained monkeys.
Town Hall: A rabbit warren of a place with six platforms and countless steps and escalators. It's like a full-size three-dimensional game of snakes and ladders.
It's an easy place to lose your sense of direction, so don't be afraid to ask. All the shops have been removed, leaving a station totally devoid of soul, with a massive over supply of stupid signs and railway notices but with very good pedestrian flow .
You walk out one end to reach the cinema district and Chinatown, and out the other end for shopping, the Queen Victoria Building and the centre of town.
Either way will lead to Darling Harbour. The shortest way is to go out the cinema end, veer right, walk up the steps to the street and walk immediately down the Bathurst Street hill; but the more interesting way is to walk right through the Queen Victoria Building until you can ride up the escalator, then walk along the ground floor level until you reach the far end of the building, then turn left, walk down the hill and then across the old Pyrmont Bridge. Very scenic.
Central Station: This grand old building is the interchange point for country and interstate trains and most of the country and interstate bus services. An obnoxious station for commuters, with lots of confusing and pointless one way passages. Yep, to help with traffic flow for the Olympic Games in 2000, CityRail converted most of the two way pedestrian tunnels to one way and took down all the signs, replacing them with "No Entry". Smile as you watch all the people taking short cuts into tunnels marked "No Entry" - what a joke. Update: The tunnels have just recently been converted back to two-way.
Change at Central for the airport train service but it is is ridiculously expensive and is not recommended for groups of people (a taxi is far cheaper for three) or when you have a lot of luggage. Otherwise the airport train service is fast and runs near the terminals, both domestic and international. Note the extremely poor design at the International Airport with the station right at one end, instead of in the middle.
Catch the country trains at Central for the Blue Mountains (a great day trip), also Wollongong, (a view from the train that will take your breath away, and from the Wollongong station it's a downhill 10 minutes walk to the water), Gosford and Newcastle. All these routes are electrified and very scenic. You won't be disappointed. Major towns to the west, north and south of Sydney have trains every hour.
Martin Place: This is the heart of the banking and legal district. It's about 10 minutes walk downhill or a quick bus ride to Circular Quay, The Rocks and the Opera House. Many museums and public buildings are nearby, including the Hyde Park Barracks. Walk through the yard of Sydney Hospital at the top of Martin Place to reach the Art Gallery.
Circular Quay: There is a modern station at Circular Quay, but it's not on the Eastern Suburbs line - you have to change at Town Hall or Central. This changing trains is usually not worth the effort - the best strategy is to get out at Martin Place and enjoy the walk down the hill.
From Circular Quay it's a short walk to the Opera House and to a suburb called The Rocks. The Museum of Contemporary Art (now free) is just along the waterfront. The Justice and Police Museum and the Museum of Sydney are just up the hill. The harbour ferries depart from Circular Quay.
Kings Cross: Up the escalator to the night life, strip joints and many backpacker hotels. Visually stimulating with lots of other people to look at. Also very pleasant in the day time - thousands of people actually live in the Cross and there are many good eateries to choose from. It's busy and a bit sleazy (actually very sleazy) on Friday and Saturday nights, but for many from the suburbs that's the attraction.
For Olympic Park, the usual plan is to change at Central. You will have to ask for advice at Central as there can be three ways of getting to Olympic Park. Always think about what you are told at Central, as I have seen people given completely wrong advice by the staff - and I was actually there for one classic incident where staff on Platform 18 told Parramatta travellers to go to Platform 1. At Platform 1, staff told these people to go to Platform 18. As you would expect, about 60 travellers got very angry and on that day I realised CityRail was in terminal decline and not worth defending.
Cronulla: Many trains from Bondi Junction go through to Cronulla, a beach about 30Km to the south, right at the other end of the line. To explore Sydney, it's a good outing from Bondi. Cronulla is the only Sydney suburb with a train station at the beach. There is a ferry service every hour across to Bundeena on the south side of Port Hacking.
The train service has been improved and there are now four trains per hour. The train station is a level walk to the beach past the local shops. It's worth the train ride for a relaxing day out and a pleasant lunch either at an outdoor cafe by the surf or in the Cronulla RSL club which has sweeping panoramic views of the beach.
This is the beach from the book and 1983 movie "Puberty Blues". You also see a wide cross section of Sydney suburbs along the way; bridges take the train across two rivers and you even get to look down into people's backyards as the train whizzes past.
Apart from the famed 380, lots of other bus services wind their way through the back streets. Bus drivers, trying to be helpful, will not suggest any of these routes for fear your trip will take longer or you will become lost. But here are a few worth trying:-
The 389 bus. This is a great alternative to the 380. Catch the bus at Circular Quay or in Elizabeth Street just north of Park Street. The 389 bus runs every 10 minutes all day (20 minutes on Sundays and 30 min after 8pm daily) and goes through the historic back streets of Paddington, following the route of an old tram service.
You will pass a whole street of coffee shops in East Sydney, past the gates of the Darlinghurst Gaol, through streets lined with terrace houses, thence on to Bondi Junction. The 389 travels along Glenayr Avenue at Bondi Beach which is a long block but a level walk to the beach. Ask the driver to put you off at Hall Street or Curlewis Street. If you are lost, just stay on the bus as it terminates alongside the 380 at North Bondi. Recommended scenic trip for tourists.
The 400 Bus. The 400 goes to the Uni. of NSW, The Prince of Wales Hospital, Eastgardens and the Airport. This bus runs every five minutes on weekdays and every 10 minutes on weekends. Service are less frequent after 7pm and finish around 11pm.
Catch the 400 bus in Bondi Junction inside the bus interchange, or outside the Tea Gardens Hotel. Many passengers are students and staff going to the University of NSW; you can also get to the Randwick Ritz Cinemas (after a short walk, or go direct on buses 314-316-317) which are located at a suburb known as The Spot. This is a small shopping centre, just the famous Ritz Cinema and a lot of relaxed restaurants. Originally The Spot was on the tram route down to Coogee.
For shopperholics (if Westfield in Bondi Junction wasn't enough), the 400 takes you directly to the Eastgardens Shopping Centre. Every 20 minutes a 400 bus continues on to the Domestic and International airport terminals.
The 378 bus. This goes to Bronte via Bondi Junction, but not to Bondi Beach. However the terminus is right at Bronte near the water. There is a pleasant beach and park at Bronte, lots of coffee shops and a great cliff-top walk back to Bondi. The walk takes a little over an hour and is highly recommended.
The 380 bus to Watsons Bay. The standard 380 bus terminates at North Bondi, but some 380 buses continue on to Watsons bay, which is a great excursion for tourists. At Watsons Bay there is famous lookout and suicide cliff called The Gap, great views of the harbour and the ocean, a hotel and several cafes, a 30 minute walk to South Head, other bus routes and even a ferry service back to Circular Quay.
When you think of Sydney you may not automatically think of bicycles, but a bike is a real alternative. Check out our special section: Cyclists Guide to Bondi for bike rides from Bondi into the City and around the Eastern Suburbs, plus links to some bike lobby groups.
The 380 bus travels a road which dates to the early days of the colony. Oxford Street, through Paddington and Bondi Junction, follows the ridges all the way. Look out of the bus window and observe that the land often slopes away on both sides. This was the original road to South Head.
Similarly the road from Bondi Junction to Randwick (Bronte Road and Frenchman's Road) also follows the ridge. Many buses including the 400 still follow this route. It was the first ever tram route in Sydney over 100 years ago. Enlightened research points out that most of the main roads in the Eastern Suburbs follow aboriginal walking tracks which sensibly followed the ridges and avoided the swamps.
History The Bondi Junction station opened in 1979 but the idea of an eastern suburbs railway goes back, so it's said, as far as 1865. Plans, modelled mainly on London's underground, had stations at Taylor Square, the old Showground at Mooore Park and Randwick Racecourse. Other proposed lines would serve all the eastern suburbs beaches. Unfortunately, an extension of the existing line to reach Charing Cross, Randwick and the University of NSW was abandoned in the 1980s. Instead, the government has spent $54 million at Bondi Junction for a loop so that trains can turn around. Back in 1999 there were proposals for a station at Bondi Beach with a surcharge of $2.50 to a private operator, who would have built a private station in a public park and then permitted government trains to use this private station. These plans were quietly buried.
Bondi Junction Interchange Here you can see modern urban design at its worst, or unfriendly design at its best, depending on your viewpoint.
The reason there were no shops in the original Bondi Junction station is because the Bondi Junction Chamber of Commerce opposed them. They argued that commuters could come up to Oxford Street and buy anything they wanted. Even the newspaper seller and florist's stall near the ticket barriers are now gone, showing that commercial interests are more important than simple convenience for commuters. An underground tunnel to the Westfield shopping was never finished, but is hidden behind the now-closed Countrylink shop. And they skimped on the escalators wherever possible.
Locals can spot tourists on the trains. At Bondi Junction most trains reverse direction but the tourists don't turn their seats over to face the new direction of travel.
Visitors will notice that Bondi buses always travel in pairs, giving 2 buses every 10 minutes, rather than a bus every five minutes as promised in the timetable. I am reliably informed that buses running in pairs along Bondi Road is caused by bus affinity magnetism, a local manifestation of new age psychic attraction.