By Rory Fagan
Rory Fagan moved to Bronte, New South Wales, from London after winning a prize with his wife to attend the Rugby World Cup in 2003. Having seen England win the tournament, they decided it would be a great place to settle. Rory is the supervisor of an early education and care service.
The Sydney suburb of Bronte is 8km south-east of the central business district, and has one of the city’s most beautiful beaches. There is excellent surfing, an ocean rock pool, a small rocky “bogey hole” for families to swim in and a beautiful park with palm trees.
We chose to live here for its sense of community: we bump into friends on walks to the beach every week, and I am a volunteer patroller with Bronte Surf Life Saving Club (SLSC), keeping people safe in the water. I felt in London there were few opportunities to volunteer that combined fitness, the outdoors and the chance to meet new people every day.
Originally, my wife had not wanted to leave friends and family in London, but within six months of moving to Bronte she said it was “the best decision we ever made”.
The cost of living is high though, especially housing: Bronte is one of Sydney’s most expensive suburbs. The median house price is A$3,262,500 ($2.15m), according to Your Investment Property, a property magazine, with the market bouncing back from a two-year slump.
The weather is generally excellent, with temperatures in the 20s and low 30s for most of the year. However, most houses are built for a warm climate, which means insulation is often not optimal and winter heating bills can be high.
The school system comprises state schools, religious schools and private schools. The families I work with tell me that the quality of education in the Bronte area is generally excellent.
Running my own early education and care service means I work from home and have no commute, which is wonderful. For those who travel into the city centre, there are reasonable public transport links, namely bus, train and the new tram system, which is already running in parts, with the rest due to open imminently.
Bronte residents are very generous with their time and we often meet up for recreational activities. In recent months I have: been bush walking with friends and members of Sydney Bush Walkers, a local group, in the Blue Mountains west of the city; sailed in Sydney Harbour; ridden Vespas across New South Wales to Halls Gap, Victoria, for a scooter rally; and been to cricket, rugby and Australian rules football matches.
Sculptures by the Sea, a three-week exhibition of world-class sculpture along the coastal path between nearby Tamarama Beach and Bondi, is held in October and November each year. It is the world’s largest free public sculpture exhibition, and the coastal walk is transformed into a 2km sculpture trail with more than 100 pieces by artists from Australia and abroad.
The dining scene in Bronte ranges from wonderful cafés — we are very fortunate to live three minutes from local favourite Favoloso — to excellent seafood restaurants. There is also the recently renovated Charing Cross hotel in nearby Waverley.
The main downside to living in Bronte is also part of its upside: the suburb has no pubs. This is very unusual in Sydney but does create a family feel. If you visit Bronte beach on a Sunday afternoon you will be invited in by the SLSC for “Sunday sips” with a delicious ale or two to be enjoyed on the clubhouse veranda while watching the surfers show off their skills.
If you like pub quizzes, then, you will have to look beyond Bronte. My team often picks up prizes at the Bondi Icebergs winter swimming clubhouse, a 15-minute walk from Bronte — though the questions are not as challenging as in London.
We are very happy to call Bronte home. Visitors to Sydney can enjoy a swim there or some takeaway fish and chips at the beach and a friendly chat with the locals.
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Photographs: Dreamstime; Getty Images; Wang Kaifang/Sculptures by the Sea 2019