Why Branson loves Sydney

Why Branson loves Sydney, by Andrew Carswell - 1st April 2008
(Credit: The Daily Telegraph)

He owns a stunning Caribbean island, a gamut of luxury pads and resides in style in London.

But if he could have his life over again, Sir Richard Branson would be a born-and-bred Bondi boy with a surfboard never far from reach.

In town for, among other things, the launch of Virgin Blue's international airline V Australia yesterday, he spoke fondly of his time here.

"If I was born again I would be absolutely delighted to be born in Sydney," he said.

"It is a fun city. I would've loved to have been brought up as a kid surfing the beaches. I surfed today and have been surfing Bondi every day since I've been here.

"I can't think of any other place in the world that I can get a greater welcome than Sydney."

In his early Australian visits, after brashly bundling into Sydney to launch Virgin Blue in 2000, Branson has marked his sojourns with a number of headline-grabbing stunts.

He has attended media conferences in space suits and dressing gowns, water-skied on to Bondi Beach, abseiled into announcements and plunged into Sydney Harbour with socialite Bessie Bardot.

His recent visits have been more low key, geared more towards relaxation and fine dining.

"You have some fantastic restaurants. I love dropping into Icebergs because of the food and the fantastic views," he said.

"The people here in Sydney . . . are always smiling always happy and incredibly welcoming.

"Sydney has certainly changed. The wharves, the clubs and the bars, restaurants. It has become a happening place to be, a bit like London really . . . enormous improvements to become 'the' big city to visit."

And just where does an affable billionaire lay his scruffy head while in Sydney?

"I generally stay at the Holiday Inn and I know that doesn't sound salubrious but it is where our Virgin Blue crew stay and they are always good for a laugh at the bottom end of the evening."


Richard Branson


V Australia

Virgin Blue

Bondi Beach