Paddleboarding is popular around Malabar and Long Bay
Located around 12km south of Sydney in Long Bay, Malabar Beach is one of the eastern suburbs’ hidden gems and a popular haunt of locals and day trippers alike. The southeast–facing beach itself is only around 200 metres in width, and courtesy of the rocky headlands at either end, Malabar Beach feels rather secluded and more like a small bay than a beach. The low cliffs provide excellent shelter from both southerly and northerly winds, and the waters are always calm and safe, making it a popular spot for families with kids.
Boat ramp at the northern end of Malabar Beach
It’s hard to believe these days but Malabar Beach was once consistently rated as one of Sydney’s worst beaches in terms of pollution and water quality. The storm water pipes were notorious after heavy rains and the sewage treatment facility would wreak havoc on the beach after spills. The conditions were so bad here once that the beach was officially closed to swimmers for over 50 years between 1949 and 2000. The water quality has drastically improved on average however there are still certain times when it’s best not to venture into the water. Sydney Water and the NSW government have committed to improving the water quality and work is constantly being done to upgrade the treatment facility.
The calm waters are perfect for watersports
Malabar and the surrounding areas have long been favourites of rock and beach fishermen alike, with the calm waters providing safe harbour for fish in large swells as well as families who take their kids fishing on the beach. Paddle boarding, snorkelling, kayaking, swimming and every other type of fun can be had here apart from surfing. A popular Saturday morning activity is to swim with a regular group of locals who go back and forth from one side of the bay to the other. The boat ramp at the southern end is a popular place to launch small boats, and the rock pool nearby provides a safe place for young kids to go swimming.
Northern end provides shelter from north easterly breezes
For a relatively small area, Malabar is packed with an array of cafes and places to meet with friends. Local favourites such as Juice Box and Nostimo draw crowds from the more established foody suburbs further north and people who make the journey are rewarded for their efforts.
There are boat ramps at both ends of the beach
Underneath the water it’s a popular scuba dive location courtesy of the wrecks of the MV Malabar and the SS Goolgwai. According to Randwick Council, The MV Malabar was named after a small village in Java in Indonesia and was originally launched in Scotland in 1925. On the 2nd April 1931, the ship ran aground at the northern side of Long Bay, and all passengers and crew were evacuated along with 3 valuable stud horses – all of whom swam to shore (the only loss of life being the ship's cat who refused to leave). One newspaper at the time estimated that 500,000 people flocked to see the ship over the Easter weekend alone. As the ship ran aground only metres from the ocean outfall of one of Sydney’s major water treatment facilities, it was virtually off limits for divers and salvage efforts were hampered. With the activation of the facility's deep water outfall in 1990, the site once again became accessible to divers who continue to visit to this day.
The SS Goolgwai was launched in Ontario Canada in 1919 as a fishing trawler, and was later requisitioned by the Royal Australian Navy during the Second World War. It was then returned to its original owners and resumed fishing activities until it ran aground on the 18th May 1955 not far from the wreck of the MV Malabar. It eventually broke apart weeks later on the 6th June after a continued pounding from heavy seas.
A variety of buses run from the city such as the 393, 394 and 399. If driving, simply head down Anzac Parade and turn into Fishermans Road for the north end of the beach, or down Bay Parade for the southern end. There are plenty of parking options at both ends although they can fill up quickly on hot summer weekends.
I hope you enjoyed reading this article as much as I enjoyed writing it. Malabar Beach is becoming a great place to visit again thanks to revitalisation efforts around Sydney. Perfect for kids and fisherman, it's a unique spot that deserves a visit at some point along your travels.
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