Australia’s most recognised and cherished beach – Bondi – has been elevated to the National Heritage List, Australia’s highest heritage honour. The listing recognises Bondi’s key role in developing Australia’s beach culture, and its central place in the world-famous surf lifesaving movement.

Bondi Beach is the third most visited site in Sydney after the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge, which are both also included on the National Heritage List. The listed area at Bondi includes around 65 hectares of land and water, comprising the beach, surf lifesaving clubs, pavilion, parks, promenades, cliffs and ocean waters between Ben Buckler and Mackenzie’s Point.

Other National Heritage sites in New South Wales include the Sydney Harbour Bridge, the Kurnell Peninsula (site of James Cook’s first landing on Australian soil), and the Royal National Park and Garawarra State Conservation Area. New South Wales has five UNESCO World Heritage sites: Sydney Opera House, the Gondawana Rainforests, the Greater Blue Mountains Area, Lord Howe Island Group and the Willandra Lakes Region.

Bondi became home to Australia’s first formally-documented surf lifesaving club in 1907. At the time, restrictions on public sea bathing were starting to relax and Bondi Beach was becoming a popular place for swimming and family picnics. The surf lifesavers – proud volunteers in their red and yellow caps – became a symbol of what was great about being Australian.

With over 120,000 members, the surf lifesaving movement has grown to become the country’s largest water safety volunteer organisation. It has rescued more than 520,000 people in the 80 years since its records began.

Bondi Beach is also home to the famous Bondi Icebergs swimming club, established in 1929. These winter swimming enthusiasts have been fondly regarded over the years as fun-loving but disciplined larrikins who swim in the chilly Bondi Baths on winter Sundays.

Australia‘s national heritage comprises exceptional natural and cultural places which help give Australia its national identity. Such places are a living and accessible record of the nation’s evolving landscapes and experiences. Each place in the List is assessed by the Australian Heritage Council as having national heritage values which can be protected and managed under a range of Commonwealth powers.

Places on the list are protected under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. This requires that approval is obtained before any action takes place which has, will have, or is likely to have, a significant impact on the national heritage values of a listed place.

Austravel (0870 166 2070, www.austravel.com) are offering seven nights in Bondi from £945 per person. Including return flights from London Heathrow to Sydney with Emirates, seven nights staying at the Swiss Grand Resort overlooking Bondi Beach and a two hour Learn to Surf lesson on Bondi. Price based on two sharing, valid for travel 16th April – 30th June 2008.

For more information on Sydney and New South Wales visit www.sydney.com.

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