Every day of the year, Bondi wakes up early with surfers, swimmers, joggers and dog walkers flocking to enjoy the peace and quiet of the beach and the sound of the early morning waves. Check out the winter video of Bondi here.
BONDI – PLAYGROUND OF THE PACIFIC
Originally, Bondi was nothing more than sand dunes with the odd gum tree and stunted bush. The land, now known as The Bondi Estate, was privately owned until June 1882, when it was reclaimed as public land and became accessible to the masses following the extension of the tram line from Sydney Town to Bondi Beach.
In 1907 a young boy was saved from drowning at Bondi Beach, that boy would grow up to become the aviator Sir Charles Kingsford Smith. This incident took place one month before the Bondi lifesavers group formally organized to form the Bondi Surf Bathers Life Saving Club, which is now one of the oldest surf lifesaving clubs in the world.The club hit the headlines on Sunday 6 February 1938, when they performed over three hundred rescues after hundreds of swimmers were swept out to sea by a series of huge waves. Sadly, five people lost their lives and the date has gone down in history as Black Sunday.
The brewers, Resch’s Ltd, became aware of the growing popularity of Bondi Beach and commissioned the architect Eric Lindsay Thompson to design a new resort hotel for them. Lindsay Thompson designed what was to be the first major building constructed for public use at Bondi. The Hotel Bondi would be four storey’s high with an impressive veranda facing Campbell Parade, to offer guests an unbroken view of Bondi Beach.
Resch’s plans were approved by council and Howie, Moffat and Co. set to work constructing Lindsay Thompson’s masterpiece. During the 1920s Bondi developed a much envied reputation for being The Playground of the Pacific. Artists and writers flocked to the area and Bondi Beach stole Manly’s crown for being Sydney’s premier surfing spot. Bondi acquired a hedonistic and bohemian atmosphere, which was heightened in 1923 when the flamboyant bookmaker David McFarlane McLachlan Kerr opened The Casino next to the Hotel Bondi. Despite the name, this wasn’t a gambling establishment but a nightclub offering live music and dancing. Unfortunately Kerr lost his shirt during the Great Depression and The Casino closed in 1931. Kerr wasn’t the only victim of the Great Depression and Bondi Beach became a haven for the poor, with the authorities encouraging them to soak in the healthy beach environment as a tonic for the physical and psychological symptoms caused by the financial crisis. In 1929 Resch’s Ltd was taken over by rival brewer Tooth & Co.
The new owners of the Hotel Bondi eventually added a public bar and lounge to the building. These new facilities were opened during the era of the six o’clock swill, when workers would clock off for the day and would only have an hour to down as much beer as possible before closing time. Pub trading hours were not extended in NSW until 1955. The outbreak of the Second World War saw Bondi Beach become a much less desirable holiday destination. Those local residents who had the means boarded up their homes and fled inland, whilst barbed wire and concrete tank traps were installed across the golden sand to help protect Sydney against a Japanese invasion. Every possible precaution was taken and blackout regulations were in force to ensure that all windows facing the sea were blacked out at night. But on 8 June 1942 a Japanese submarine fired about a dozen shells over Bondi and into Woollahra. When the Second World War ended Bondi developed into a working class area, largely due to the arrival of Jewish migrants who had decided to flee war ravaged Europe.
The surf culture continued to grow and in 1955 over 40,000 people crammed onto Bondi Beach, with a further 60,000 gathered on the surrounding foreshore to catch a glimpse of Queen Elizabeth II, who was attending the first ever Royal Surf Carnival. On a single day in 1961 more than fifty women were ordered to leave Bondi Beach by the council officials who carried tape measures to ensure that the legs of swimming costumes were at least 3” long. Bathing regulations still held that the swimming costume was to cover from neck to knee. However times were changing and by the end of that year the regulations were overturned, simply stating that bathers should be ‘clad in a proper and adequate bathing costume.’
Today Bondi Beach has regained its status as The Playground of the Pacific, it still has its backpacker hostels and it has kept its bohemian feel but it is also home to the rich and the famous with property selling for millions of dollars. Campbell Parade has been treated to a A$3.1 million facelift and boasts a wide array of boutique shops, restaurants and bars.
ALCOHOL FREE AND PROHIBITED AREAS
Alcohol Free and Prohibited Areas
Bondi Beach and Parks and public streets are alcohol free, enforced by council and police. Luckily though there are lots of cafes, restaurants and bars where you can enjoy a drink in comfort.