Bondi Resort Blog

Come on into our Blog for a look at the wonderful world we've got to share! With over 240 hectares (600 acres) of wilderness woodlands surrounding the resort, just ten minutes from Algonquin Park, we feature over 400 metres (1200’) of waterfront and beach; boat rentals; summer hiking trails winding through fields and woods; 20 km. of groomed cross country ski trails and snowshoeing in winter; access to nearby snowmobile trails for sledders, and a toboggan hill for the young at heart.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Take your breath away beautiful.

Whatever else one says about snow, it sure does make for pretty pictures!

We woke up this morning to find there was enough snow on the ground to set the boys to cheering (avid skiers, both of them); and to require the plow truck to put in an appearance.

The deer had left a string of tracks, like a pearl necklace, cross a lawn that was otherwise pristine.  The sun came out, and made sunglasses a necessary piece of apparel.

Ice is just starting to form along the shore. We usually are able to have a great skating rink for Christmas. That's in part because Bondi Bay is shallow and protected, so freezes up sufficiently for us to 'go and play' while the deeper lake, out past the points, may still be wide open water.

Everywhere you turned, there were photographs, just waiting to be taken and put on Christmas cards!

Even the old hayrake took on an air of romance, nestled into the lilac bush and playing games with the shadows.

Time to be sure the coats and hats, mittens and warm boots are all close to the door for easy access!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Counting the Days!

Our American guests have gone home after enjoying their Thanksgiving here with us, avoiding the crowds and feverish overspending of Black Friday and CyberMonday. They opted instead to hike Algonquin, drop in on a Bluegrass festival, take photos of the deer on our lawn.  With November behind us, we are getting ready for the next season.

December is on the doorstep. On Dec. 1st, Dwight will Light Up the Night, with a community festival.  At the Dwight Community Centre, at 6 p.m. there will be carols sung, hot chocolate guzzled, goodies munched and a Penny Sale held, from 5 to 6 p.m  Along with that will be the lighting of a tree on the grounds.  There will be life music from the Mason Trio, carolling with the Muskoka Music Men, and more.  The Irwin Memorial School's Open House will be happening, just across the street, and area businesses will be turning on their Christmas lights and staying open late. Check out the deals on offer, and get into that Christmas spirit.  Shopping locally helps us all.

As our thoughts turn to Christmas, they also turn to Christmas holidays.  Bondi Village is a fabulous place to spend some time over the holidays.  With our own on-site ski/snowshoe trails, toboggan hills, tube run, skating rink there's no need to be getting in the car -- there's plenty for everyone, of all ages and ambition.  Got someone who is mad-keen to be hitting the trails? Let them!  Those less inclined can easily come back to the comfy cottages and fireplaces without any guilt about cutting short someone else's fun or hanging about in cold parking lots waiting.  Just step out our doors, and you are on the trails!  That's perfect for kids, who can play outside and then right away, be back in the cottage without having to deal with getting in and out of cars, wet coats, and the like.  Don't have the equipment? No problem -- Algonquin Outfitters does, less than 10 minutes away, and you can bring it back here to use it on our trails. Snowshoes we've got for rent, and lots of toboggans and sliders to borrow.

Dara Howell, bronze medal, NZ Winter Games. National
Post Photo of the Week.
 Close by, we've got Hidden Valley Highlands Ski Centre. Not as mountainous as, say, the Alps, the hills offer a great variety of challenges for all levels. The ski school is excellent, friendly, relaxed and guaranteed to get you off to a great start.  Local talent Dara Howell learned to ski at "The Valley" -- recently she won bronze at the New Zealand Winter Games for her performance in Pipe and Park.  Our local hill is a fantastic place to learn and hone skills, close by, affordable. You can be there, from Bondi, in less than fifteen minutes!

Rock Ridge Tubing Park is also just a quick drive away, and what a fun place that is! Into the tube at the top of the hill, and then Hang On as you slide and spin to the bottom.  They have it all, from single person tubes to big family sized ones for extra fun.  Anyone wanting to take a break, or just watch the kids for a little while, can hang out in the spacious club house with coffee or hot chocolate, and enjoy the action through the big windows.

Sleigh rides are on offer at several local farms. Big, steaming horses will pull the straw laden sleighs out to bonfires for hot chocolate, and there is magic in the sound of the horses' in the snow, the runners underneath the sleigh, a timeless joy that never gets old.

Dog sledding is faster paced.  It's not just sitting in a pile of rugs watching the south end of northbound dogs -- there are lots of places that will teach you to drive the team, and if you've never been, you'll be astonished at how fast, how gloriously happy, these dogs are to be out in the woods.  The dogs' enthusiasm is completely infectious -- we have yet to see anyone go dog-sledding without a huge smile on their face.

Want to just relax? We've got that too.  Sit by the windows, next to the fireplace, something warm to drink close to hand, and get the family together over board games, cards games, word games. Create some winter crafts. Build a snowman, or a quinzhee hut, hand craft an igloo... or just watch the colours change on the snow as the sun sets.

Christmas is about families, and families are about spending time together.  We've got just the place. Get the family together and come on up to our place. It's all about being together, as families.  So, let's get 'unplugged' from the computers and take our ears away from all that din and commotion, let's spend the time with each other instead, in a truly beautiful part of our country.

 As Bing Crosby once memorably said,  "Unless we make Christmas an occasion to share our blessings, all the snow in Alaska won't make it 'white'."


Achmed just wanted to send out a cheer of encouragement to those people taking part in the Movember challenge.

As the month draws to a close, and we are threatened with more facial hair growth in DecmBEARD, here's a cheer for those who put their faces on the line and their razors on the shelf in the name of a worthy cause.

But, we must confess, when it comes to beards, sideburns, 'staches,  Achmed's got it covered.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Voted Number One

Robinson's Store, in Dorset, has repeatedly been voted the best Country store in Canada.

Cheers to that!  If this store doesn't have it, chances are really good that you don't need it.   Housed in one of the oldest buildings in historic Dorset, it's worth prowling through the store just to look at the building itself.

 Don't forget to look up, to the pressed metal ceiling tiles!  That's something you don't see much anymore, but how beautiful, and how long lasting they are!

Early accounts of the village indicate that Zachariah Cole in 1862 built a hotel and store on this site. It burned in 1886, as old wooden buildings with wood stoves were wont to do.  He rebuilt it as the Fairview hotel.  That also burned, in 1907.  Given the use of candles, oil lamps, slightly enebriated loggers with cigarettes and limited fire fighting capacities, it's a wonder everything didn't go up in smoke back then.   The next frame building to try its luck here was the Red Onion -- parts of this hotel still remain, upstairs in Robinson's General Store, and house a great selection of clothing and gifts.  Once upon a time there were also the five cent slot machines -- until the Province banned such iniquities.

In 1921 the McKey's built a general store next to the Red Onion.  After Fred's passing, his wife married Harry Robinson's, in the early 1930's and the store became known as Robinson's.  It's still owned and operated by this family.  You can usually find Brad in there -- and if you want to know anything about Dorset, he's your man.

Along with Brad, you can find pretty much anything else to make your time on Lake of Bays outstanding.  Bruno the Bear will be happy to give you a hug...

There are lots of local producers' products available, including Yummies in a Jar, Maple Syrup products and Big Ass Garlic -- all Lake of Bays produced.

From the produce on offer through the Foodland Section, through the gifts and clothing section of the store and on to the Hardware and Garden department, this really, truly, is a General Store.  It should be on your Must Visit list when you are up here, in North Muskoka.

Tell Brad I sent you...

If you want to learn more about the history of Dorset, get your fingers on the Dorset Heritage Walking Tour booklet put out by the Township of Lake of Bays Heritage Advisory Committee. There's more fun facts in there than you'd think, and a lot of very unexpected history as well.

Black Friday? Blue Skies!

While our neighbours to the south worked off their Thanksgiving Turkey with an excess of shopping frenzy, we kicked back with one of the loveliest days you'd ever want to have in November.

Perfect for hiking, tidying up in the gardens, getting Christmas lights hung, or just kicking back watching the deer on the lawn near Beaver cottage!

We have guests here for the American Thanksgiving -- Paul and Cindy spent the day up in Algonquin Park, enjoying the solitude of the Canadian northwoods.

 It's quiet in the Park this time of year, so the chance of seeing wildlife is much higher, and with the leaves down you can see farther into the woods, right to the massive granite bones of the Muskoka Shield, the true shape of the land.

Come evening, we were treated to a fantabulous sunset -- a harbinger of another great day coming tomorrow.  Really, wouldn't you rather be outside than fighting your way to a cash register at some box store?  After all, if you've seen one big box store, you've seen 'em "mall."

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

A Yummie Christmas Open House

John and Lynn Murden live near Baysville.  He is an artist and a photographer.  She is the driving force behind Yummies in a Jar -- wonderful sauces, dips, jams, jellies, candles...

Together they host an amazing art gallery and shopping experience. Glorious for the eyes and the tastebuds both.

And this week, they hosted an Open House Fundraiser for the local Animal Shelters. The Animal Shelter for Huntsville, and the newly opened Muskoka Animal Shelter in Bracebridge were beneficiaries.

Moon Shadows Estate Winery -- featuring maple syrup.
Not as sweet as you might fear -- the Rhubarb wine was
my favourite!
 Naturally, Napster wanted to donate one of his prints for the Silent Auction. The cat is a staunch supporter of Animal Shelters everywhere. (One of his prints is going up for auction at Sechelt, B.C. early next year!)

Helping to spice up the occasion, Savour Muskoka was on hand -- the culinary experience is always enhanced with the use of regional specialties, and Muskoka is truly rich in opportunities.  Chef Randy  and Karen from Tall Trees were on hand --  roast duck was part of the sampling on offer, along with a to-die-for pumpkin mousse...  Randy, by the by, was the winner of Napster's print -- we can't wait to find out if it is going to hang in the restaurant, or at home.   Tall Trees has long been one of our favourite restaurants -- long before the Russian Prime Minister made an unexpected stop there while here for the G8.

The Lake of Bays Brewery, which calls Baysville home, was on hand with samples. So, too, the Moon Shadows Estate Winery.   There was a sampling of pumpkin soup and wild game terrine from Black River Food Co.; gluten free pasta from Beat the Wheat; a great selection of Yummies in a Jar dips and sweets...  and so much more! I can't believe we got out of there without gaining ten pounds!

The day raised just over $2100 for the animal shelters.  Of which $50 came from Napster...  not bad for a cat!

Thank you Lynn and John and family for organizing and hosting this event! The place was -- dare we say? -- Jam Packed!

A 'Grease'y Getaway!

What happens at Bondi stays at Bondi -- mostly!

We just could not resist posting a few pictures of the gals from Oakhurst Farm, in Ashton, who went all out for their Getaway Weekend with us with the costume theme of all things "Grease."  The Burger Palace "boys" (great hair!) and the Pink Ladies (envious of the Poodle Skirts, we are!) were out in force.

And what fun they had that evening, with a mix of games, Scavenger hunts and the movie itself.  Way to make your own fun, girls!

They got in some good shopping trips -- Jim, at the Oxtongue Craft Cabin was asking me weeks before which weekend they would be here.  There was lots of good fun, good fellowship, a lovely long walk in the woods so we could tick off 'exercise' in the List of Things to Do...

And Laughter... well, that box got ticked again and again!

Somethings to Shout About!

Wow! Our extended family here at Bondi Village Resort contains some amazingly wonderfully talented young people. We're always happy to showcase some of their magic!

We were delighted to feature Noam Bierstone, when, at age 18, he won the Canadian Music Awards, age 19 - 30 category in keyboard percussion. Yes, he's that good.  I, for one, had no idea that a xylophone could actually be played like that, and I'm still in awe.  Check out his videos, and prepare to be amazed.

Earlier this year, we were thrilled to feature Emily Swinkin's poem, The Children of Fishermen,  winner of the University of Toronto's Alumni Short Story and Poetry Contest.  This week, we got an email -- you never know who is reading this Blog!  An agent for a publishing company found her poem on the Bondi Resort Blog, and wants to include it in a new series of contemporary Canadian literature for high school students.  We were more than happy to pass the request along to Emily, and are hoping it all works out.

Owl feather, Quinn Dalgarno photo
Then, hard on the heels of that, we got a copy of a video about Nature Deficit Disorder that Quinn made for a Grade 11 Tech Class. His mom, Lesley, told me that she 'absolutely loved it' and just wanted to share. We feel the same way.   Of course, we share Quinn's passion for the Great Outdoors, for Nature, and we agree completely that people -- and especially a lot of children now -- just don't get enough time outside, unplugged.  Here at Bondi, we provide plenty of spaces and places where that magic can still happen -- a place to just chill, watch the wildlife, walk through the woods with only birdsong in your ears, smell the air in every season -- from the lilacs in spring, through summer's torrent of flowers and grass, autumn's cooler, earthier scent laced with evergreens, winters crisp bright air smelling of wind and snow -- We have places where you can laugh and shout, run, play, make your own fun and touch the earth. Places where you can be silent and let your soul catch up.  Room to let the kids be kids.

We are astonishingly proud of the accomplishments of these young people -- all of whom have spent many many summers here at Bondi, finding inspiration in the wild that surrounds us.  We are honoured that you are "Bondi Kids."

P.S. Emily just let us know that McGraw Hill has contracted to use her poem in an anthology -- so we have had to remove the link to the poem itself at this time.Trust us, it's lovely...

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Optimists, All

Our guests were perhaps a little optimistic, bringing a canoe with them this weekend.

On the other hand, last Thursday I met Kevin at the Dwight Public Library. He was there to catch up with his 'social media' on one of the computers. He and a friend were staying in Algonquin Park, in a Yurt, and, yes indeed, they both went swimming.
Not just a quick dash in and out either.

So perhaps its not out of line.  Besides, the primroses are back in bloom.  Can't be that cold, then...

Go for it, we say!

One Dam Fine Hike

The Ladies from Oakhurst Farm are here again for their Gal's Getaway.  We look forward to seeing them every autumn.  They get here early, and take advantage of some outstanding shopping opportunities in Huntsville and the local craft stores.  Jim, at the Oxtongue Craft Cabin always asks which weekend they are coming, so he can be sure to open early. He's on a first name basis with most of them now!
Saturday we go for a long Nature Hike. The weather this year was perfect. While there was a skiff of snow, it was a great temperature for hiking.  This year we headed up to Damalot, our collection of Beaver Dams.

On the way there, we stopped at the Hidden Lake, to check out pitcher plants  (eliciting the best line ever: "How will we recognize a pitcher plant?" "They are the ones with a frame around them.")  We then contemplating the mirror surface of the bog and wondered if it's true old Hyram Wilder's moonshine still is down there, somewhere.
Some deer thought about coming along with us, but when they saw Taffy, they changed their minds.

We played in the sandpit  -- it's all about staying in balance, and on your heels! (get those 'hocks' engaged!)

Beaver has been hard at it. He has spent much of the summer shoring up and putting the finishing touches on Dam #5, which is conveniently located very close to our ski/hiking trail.  We were able to admire the dam, and marvel at the 'canals' he has cut into the banks to move branches and logs, as well as his Skidding Path nicely worn in from the dragging of materials across the trail.
You can see how much water is being held back by this dam, and how the creek below has been choked off to just a trickle. A trickle which Taffy felt needed close inspection!  Why would we want a Polar Bear instead of a Beaver for our national animal? Look what Beaver has created, instead of just hanging out on a dwindling ice floe hoping for a seal to surface. We're impressed.
The hike took us about 2 hours, and worked up a great appetite for the lunch that was waiting back at the Lodge at Bondi.  It's always lovely to be out on our trail network -- the variety of terrain and eco-systems keeps it interesting, every step of the way!

Friday, November 18, 2011


Judy, who owns Squeegee the Wonder Pony, scooped me up last week and took me out to dinner.

That's always a treat.  We have a LOT of truly excellent restaurants in the area that cater to all tastes and pocketbooks.

Muskoka on the Rocks got the nod that evening -- chosen for the convenient location that suited both of us --  and we had a great dinner. But then, I have never had anything other than great food at Muskoka on the Rocks.  Tom and Lisa do a fabulous job.

It goes beyond just having a wonderful time out with friends and great food, however -- right now there is a contest on, run through Muskoka's MOOSE FM and 105.5 radio programs and SAVOUR MUSKOKA. Yes indeed,  Muskokalicious 4 is happening. 

What's that, you say?  Muskokalicious 4 is a gastronomic celebration, featuring a long list of area restaurants. When you dine at one between Oct. 31 and Nov. 27, you can enter your name in a draw.

Check out the participating restaurants!   In addition to EVERY participating restaurant offering a draw prize of lunch or dinner for two from October 31st through November 27th, there are 4 dynamic GRAND PRIZES to be awarded by Resort partners, Delta Grandview; J.W. Marriott The Rosseau; Touchstone; and Deerhurst Resort. You could win a two night stay...

All that, just for enjoying a great dinner. What a Muskokalicious idea!

Just because it's November doesn't mean there isn't a lot going on -- we're off tonight to the Warren Miller Film Festival. Girls' Getaway Weekend just wrapped up; Christmas lights are going up, Santa Claus comes to Huntsville Nov. 25th; and fun is where you make it happen.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Now THAT's more like it!

Dave and Mike practice all summer crafting the bonfire for the Cookout on the Beach.  They are, we confess, pretty darn good at it.

But this bonfire puts all those efforts to shame.  This is the time of year for Fall Cleaning. That's not just limited to houses, cottages, garages and gardens -- here that means making sure all our Ski Trails (all 20 km. of 'em) are Snow Ready.  We've had several trees that had to be removed this year, some victims of windstorm, some simply succumbing to age. While much of those become fuel for the fireplaces, the branches and assorted debris needs to go somewhere...

That somewhere is the Master Bonfire, and today was the day to light it.

The Bondi Maintenance Dept. (that would be Brian, David and Mike!) are on Twitter... you can follow their shenanigans at BondiMaintDept 

RAP it up... Ride Round Algonquin Park

Considered the best Loop trail in Ontario for serious snowmobilers, the RAP (Round Algonquin Park) trail opened in 1995, and covers 600 miles of trails. That's a lot of scenery, not to mention sledding.

Bondi Village is located just minutes off the main RAP trail, and we offer accommodation to those 'RAPping Riders'.  Check out the SPECIALS (What's New) section on the opening page of our website for details!

Our comfortable cottages welcome you after the day on the trail -- and with the Algonquin Snowmobile Club trails all around us, you might just want to spend a few nights right here, riding the ASC trails and enjoying having us as your base of operations!  We are located close to several restaurants that cater to the snowmobiling fraternity -- and our housekeeping cottages provide everything you need if you'd rather come home a little early, and have dinner by the fire. There are several locations close by where you can pick up a take-away meal. We offer a Breakfast Basket special to those riding the RAP who would like to make a more leisurely start to the day. Being away from the main trail, just that 'tiddly bit', and away from the highway means you'll be sure of a quiet night!

And here's a PLUS -- we have fuel, on site, for our registered guests, so you never need to worry about where you can top up the tank!

So, when you're ready to RAP, think of us!

Thinking Christmas and the New Year

National Geographic gave Muskoka the nod as one of the BEST DESTINATIONS in the world. Not just for summer... the other season are pretty amazing too.

We've been getting our own 20 km. of groomed ski trails ready here at BONDI VILLAGE RESORT. The boys are stringing the Christmas lights. Our Frisbee Golf course is ready for snowshoe play. Nearby, Hidden Valley Ski Hill has the lifts primed and ready; the Rock Ridge Tube Park is just waiting for the snow; the dog sled teams are fit and ready to rock... The Algonquin Snowmobile Club has their new maps out and the groomer ready to roll.

We think that Winter in Muskoka is pretty darn amazing.  We concede that what passes for Winter in Southern Ontario -- that almost endless slush, ice, grayness and grunginess -- is not a whole bag of chuckles.  But that is not Winter. That's sort of an endless November, too cold to swim, too warm to ski, short on sunshine and gets dark too early.  Get away from that -- come to North Muskoka, where the air is crisp and clean, the sun is blinding bouncing off the pristine white snow, you can still hear birds sing rather than car horns blare, the stars are so close in the night sky you feel you could reach up and take hold of one (and you don't have to be a night owl to enjoy their spectacle!).  We love the sound of snow crunching underfoot, of the lake ice 'booming' as it freezes harder. We love the look of huge snowflakes hanging in the air, clinging to mittens and rosy cheeks. We love the smiles at the bottom of the toboggan hill; the shouts on the big ski hills, the silence of the nordic trails winding through woods laced with the tracks of animals.  We love the smell and the sight of the steam coming off the big team of Belgians pulling the sleigh, the excited barks of the sled dogs who just cannot wait to get onto the trail, the hush of snowshoes breaking trail in deep untracked places. We love coming back inside -- where the heat wraps around you like a blanket, and there's always a cup of tea, or coffee, or cocoa, waiting.  We understand why folk want to get away from City Winter.  They should Think North instead.

The Christmas and New Years holidays are a fabulous time to come north, instead of south. Avoid the airport jams, the trek through Customs -- we're just 2 hours away.

Canada has seasons. We truly believe that there is magic in all of them, and that we owe it to ourselves to discover how to enjoy them all. Mike and Dave can hardly wait to get back on skiis, they've got the fish-hut primed and ready to go, they've checked out the snowmobiles so they are winter-ready... all they need is snow.

Luckily, due to altitude and attitude, North Muskoka enjoys the kind of the winter you CAN play with.  Give it a try!

Think Snow... help Stamp out Summer...

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Justin Beaver?

"I WILL stop the water!!!" says Justin Beaver,   "just as soon as I finish eating the bark on this branch."

What wonderful photos of a  Lake of Bays beaver hard at work!

Thank you to Gloria Woodside for sharing these -- they are quite spectacular.

Like me, Gloria always carries a camera. Unlike me, she seems to capture really amazing pictures. Luckily for me, she shares.