In a small bowl, add yeast, sugar and 1/2 cup of the warm water. Don't stir it, and let the mixture sit for 5 minutes until yeast is foamy, then stir with a fork until yeast dissolves.
In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, stir together flour and salt. Make a well in the centre and add the yeast mixture. Add the remaining warm water into the bowl and stir to combine. Mix until the dough comes together in a ball.
Knead dough by hand on a lightly floured bench, adding more flour as needed until a firm but smooth and elastic dough forms, about 10 minutes. You could also knead it in a stand mixer but I found that the dough was quite stiff and the mixer had a bit of a hard time.
Shape the dough into ball and place in a lightly greased bowl. Cover with gladwrap or a tea towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
Once the dough is doubled in size, punch down and let it rest for 10 minutes. Divide the dough into 8 equal pieces. Roll each piece of dough into a smooth ball and then using your finger, poke a hole in the center of each ball and stretch it until the hole is as big as half the diameter of the bagel. It will look like a big hole but it will shrink when boiling and baking. Place bagels on a lightly greased or lined baking tray. Cover with a damp towel or lightly greased plastic wrap and let rest for 10 minutes.
While waiting, preheat the oven to 220°C/430°F and bring a large pot of water to a boil, then reduce heat to just below a simmer. Using a slotted spoon, lower a few bagels at a time into the water. Allow bagels to float to the top. Leave bagels in the water for 2 minutes, then flip over and leave in the water another 2 minutes (the longer they stay in the water, the chewier they become). Remove bagels with slotted spoon and return to prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining bagels.
Bake until golden brown, about 15-20 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool completely on a cooling rack before slicing.
I have made these with both high grade and all purpose flour and both worked fine however I did prefer the high grade flour. It made a much nicer dough to work with and rose a lot better. If using all purpose flour you will need 4-4 1/2 cups of flour - not sure why but the dough seemed to be a lot stickier.