Bondi Beach is located between Ben Buckler Head and McKenzie Point, and is approximately one kilometre long and ranges in width from 50m at the north end to 100m at the south end.
Bondi Park is bounded by Campbell Parade to the west and Queen Elizabeth Drive and Bondi Beach to the east. The park is largely grassed, with a number of picnic shelters, walkways, and tree plantings. Situated within the park, the Bondi Surf Pavilion is the dominant architectural feature in the immediate vicinity of Bondi Beach.
The Bondi Surf Pavilion is constructed in the Mediterranean/Georgian revival style and consists of a central double storey structure fronted by a single storey arched colonnade and flanked by single storey wings at either end with colonnaded walls surrounding two internal courtyards. The walls are cement rendered masonry, the floors are reinforced concrete and timber, the roof is timber framed with concrete roof tiles, and the windows and doors are timber framed and glazed. The joinery at the northeastern end of the building is original. The Bondi Surf Pavilion currently includes a theatre, a gallery, an amphitheatre, a basketball court, several meeting rooms, a restaurant, change rooms and toilets.
Also located within Bondi Park are the Bondi Surf Bathers Life Saving Club and the North Bondi Surf Club buildings.
Changes to the Bondi Surf Pavilion building included the following:
- 1931 Erection of outdoor auditorium which incorporated the caretaker's quarters in the first floor;
- c 1942 Groynes demolished as part of wartime preparation of Bondi Beach for defence against enemy landings;
- 1948 Two additional exits and stairways, emergency exit lights, additional lavatory accommodation, fire fighting equipment, and ventilation to the ballroom in order to obtain a licence under the Theatre and Public Halls Act;
- 1955 Tenders called for operation of the Bondi Surf Pavilion. Description in tender documents stated that the pavilion had been recently renovated and was in a good state of repair. Further details are not known;
- 1968 Reconstruction of walls of the Bondi Surf Pavilion for structural reasons;
- 1972-75 Former ballroom converted to theatre;
- 1977-78 Change rooms, lockers, Turkish baths, courtyard demolished and replaced by large grassed area, amphitheatre, netball court, workshops for craft classes, art gallery, child care centre, two gymnasiums, restaurant as part of conversion of pavilion to a community centre;
- Unknown date (probably in the 1970s) Reversal of auditorium (audience seating moved from west of pavilion to inside pavilion courtyard);
- 1980 Courtyard walls painted with murals along the theme of 'Bondi the Beautiful' based on 1920s images of Bondi;
- 1985 Ceramic murals installed in foyer of the Bondi Surf Pavilion; and
- 1980s Semi-circular pergola constructed to south of the Bondi SurfPavilion.
Recent changes from 2002 to 2005 to the Bondi Surf Pavilion included thefollowing:
- Repainting of the pavilion and construction of new forecourt;
- Glazed semi-circular addition to northern end of pavilion to house seafood restaurant;
- Building constructed in south courtyard;
- Fenestration to northern end of east faade restored;
- Stormwater pipes fixed;
- Alterations for gelato bar at southern end of east side; and
- Foundation stone relocated.
Changes to the Bondi Surf Bathers Life Saving Club building included the following:
- 1951 Additions to provide a gear room;
- 1970s/1980s Additional rooms constructed to south-west of original building; mezzanine level added, first floor extended to east; and
- 2003 New boat shed. Changes to the North Bondi Surf Life Saving Club included the following:
- 1950 Observation Room completed;
- 1978 Demolition of top floor of building, to be replaced by a 'VIP room'; and
- 2006 Development Approval granted for works which will substantially alter the external appearance of the building. (Works not yet commenced - January 2007).
Changes to the Bondi Park included the following:
- 1970s Pipe handrails along Queen Elizabeth Drive replaced; pathway paving rehabilitated;
- 1980s Pavilion forecourt area reconstructed; and
- 2003 Moulded concrete skate park (in place of earlier skate ramp in southern section of park); also landscape works including new pathways.
10/2013 Marine Discovery Centre at Bondi Pavilion closed. Waverley Councli call for expressions of interest for the space.
2007 - The preliminary matters of concern arising from a detailed condition report commissioned by Waverley Council include the presence of lead paint, the noncompliance with the Building Code of Australia (BCA) of the theatre in terms of egress and fire control, and the rusting of a number of major structural beams.
An external visual inspection made by Clive Lucas Stapleton & Partners for the purposes of this nomination found the condition of the Bondi Surf Pavilion and the Bondi Surf Bathers Life Saving Club Building to be generally satisfactory, and that routine maintenance is carried out. There are no aspects of the physical condition of the building which affect the significance
of the pavilion.
The landscaped area of Bondi Park, including the picnic shelters and footpaths, were the subject of an upgrade in late 2003 and are generally in fair condition.
The archaeological potential of the study area has not been assessed in detail. There is some scope for archaeological remains to provide information on earlier structures, such as the early bathing sheds, located in the area of Bondi Park.
Waverley took its name from the title of a book by the famous Scottish author and poet, Sir Walter Scott. Its connection with the suburb of Waverley comes through Barnet Levey (or Levy, 1798-1837) who came to Sydney in the 1820s to visit his brother. When he saw how prosperous the city was becoming, Levey decided to settle here and set up a business as a general merchant. In 1831 he was granted 60 acres in the area bounded by the present Old South Head Road, Birrell Street, Paul Street and Hollywood Avenue. He must have occupied the land before the official grant because he built himself a substantial two story home on Old South Head Road in 1827, naming it Waverley House after the book by his favourite author. As time passed the house became a distinctive landmark and gave its name to the surrounding district, which was simply called Waverley. Levey established Sydney's first permanent theatre behind his shop in George Street. His projects consumed all his money, and when he died in 1837 he left a widow and four children in poverty. In 1837 the house was taken over for a Catholic school or orphanage, but it was demolished early in the 20th century.
Waverley municipality was proclaimed in 1859. By the 1880s trams were running to the beaches in the Eastern Suburbs and Waverley became a popular picnic spot. Waverley Park had a splendid oval, used by the established Waverley District Cricket Club.
Waverley Cemetery was established in 1877 on the site of the old tram terminus, on a beautiful site near the ocean. It houses many historically notable people.
The 1866 NSW Gazetteer described Waverley as having Clough's Windmill, Allan's Soap Works, Dickson's Soap and Candle Works and Scott's Blacking and Fireworks Factory. There were also four quarries producing excellent freestone. Today however, it is an attractive residential suburb, just west of Tamarama Beach (Pollen & Healy, 1988, 266-7)
Bondi Beach and Bondi Park were part of the Bondi Estate originally granted to William Roberts in 1810. Although the area was in private ownership, the use of the beach by the public was made permissible by the owners from 1855, and the foreshore lands became popular as a picnicking and pleasure resort.
In 1882, an area of 25 acres at Bondi Beach was dedicated as a public reserve. Early improvements following the dedication included baths opened c1889, bathing sheds were erected in 1903, and a weatherboard shed for the Bondi Surf Bathers Life Saving Club was built in 1907. The Bondi Surf Bathers Life Saving Club and the North Bondi Surf Club were founded in 1906, and are two of the oldest surf clubs in Australia. The present clubhouse of the Bondi Surf Bathers Life Saving Club was constructed in 1934, and the present club house of the North Bondi Surf Club was opened in 1933.
A number of improvements ensued. In 1911, bathing sheds accommodating 750 men and 250 women were opened, described as the "finest bathing accommodation of any of the ocean beaches" (Sydney Morning Herald 14 February 1911, p. 9). A shed for the North Bondi Surf Life Saving Club was provided in the same year. Between 1911 and 1920, the sea wall at Bondi Beach was constructed. Funded by the State Government, the work was carried out by the Public Works Department. The wall was an early attempt to control the drifting sand problem experienced at Bondi, but only met with partial success. In 1924 the sand dunes at the north of the beach caused the sea wall to fail.
In 1923, Waverley Council implemented a Bondi Beach and Park Improvement Scheme. An open competition called on designers to provide a kiosk and surf sheds, three lavatory blocks with separate accommodation for males and females, a band stand, layout of the park surrounding the buildings, increased pedestrian and vehicular traffic capacity and elimination of cross traffic over the Marine Drive and Promenade. The architectural firm of Robertson and Marks won the competition with a design which was semicircular in plan, with a circular core, and a Classical style elevation to the beach. This design, as well as improvements to the park and ancillary structures, including car parks, radiating paths, and bridges, was estimated to cost (Pounds)100,000. Encountering difficulties in funding the project, in 1926 Waverley Council instructed Robertson and Marks to revise their scheme to include fund raising elements, such as baths. The plans for the park, sea wall, and traffic provisions were further amended on the basis of recommendations from the Commission of Inquiry into the scheme held by the Department of Local Government. The Inquiry accepted the revised scheme in 1927, and Waverley Council secured a loan of (Pounds)120,000 from the Commonwealth Bank for the construction of the scheme. A further (Pounds)40,000 was borrowed in 1930 in order to complete the scheme. By the standards of the time, the scale and cost of the Bondi Beach Improvement Schemes was a unprecedented undertaking for a local Council in NSW. The foundation stone marking the commencement of construction of the improvement scheme was laid on 26th May 1928 by the Mayor of Waverley, Alderman David Hunter. The Bondi Surf Pavilion was sufficiently complete by December 1928 to allow the public to use the accommodation. Six months later, Turkish baths and hot water baths were opened. The official opening of the Bondi Beach Improvement Scheme was held on 21st December 1929 before 160,000 to 200,000 onlookers. In addition to the erection of the pavilion building, the scheme included the layout of a Marine Drive (now Queen Elizabeth Drive), bridges, carparking, promenade, and park plantings.
The implementation of the improvement scheme required the relocation of the Bondi Surf Bathers Life Saving Club house to a point 100 yards north to where the present building is situated. Subsequently, a new club house, designed by Ross & Rowe, architects, was opened in 1934. The building was extended in the 1970s and 1980s. The Bondi Surf Pavilion offered, in addition to surf sheds and dressing accommodation, Turkish and hot water baths, retail premises, entertainment in the ballroom, cabaret theatre, and auditorium and dining. Bathing costumes, towels, lockers, and dressing cubicles were available for hire. The ground floor of the building originally held two courtyards, one for men and one for women, with individual changing booths constructed in rows in each. Tunnels leading from each courtyard led underneath Marine Parade to a pair of concrete groynes opening onto the beach. Owing to the outbreak of war in the Pacific, the two concrete groynes leading from the pavilion onto the beach were demolished in 1942, and the park area was secured by barbed wire.
In the post-World War II era, the Bondi Surf Pavilion experienced a decline as changes in bathing costumes (from heavy woollen costumes to nylon) eliminated the need for changing sheds. The rise in popularity of the motor car meant that individuals could visit any number of beaches; whereas in the pre-war years the Bondi tram ensured that Bondi Beach was a popular beach destination for the public. Although Bondi Surf Pavilion itself began to decline in its commercial prospects (Council reported an operating loss of (Pounds)17,000 for the year 1955), Bondi Beach itself was cemented in the national identity as the quintessential Australian beach, as evidenced by its selection as the location for the 1954 'Royal Command' Surf Carnival, held in the presence of Her Majesty the Queen and His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh. In the 1950s and 1960s, the ground floor refreshment rooms were operated by lessees, while the main hall and auditorium were rarely used. In the 1970s, steps were taken to increase the community use of the pavilion. The theatre on the upper floor was officially opened by Gough Whitlam in 1975.
Demolition of the change rooms, lockers, former Turkish baths, and courtyard took place in 1977 to 1978 in order to create a netball court, an art gallery, gymnasiums, an amphitheatre and other facilities as part of Waverley Council's cultural program. The building was officially opened as the Bondi Surf Pavilion Community Centre in 1978 by the Premier of NSW, Neville Wran. Bondi Surf Pavilion still continues to be a community cultural centre, housing a theatre, a gallery, rehearsal, meeting and function rooms. The external arcades, change rooms and toilets continue to be used by visitors to the beach. Many arts, cultural, and film festivals take place at the pavilion throughout the year.
The Norfolk Island pine trees )Araucaria heterophylla) in Bondi Park began to die off in the late 1960s, and a Select (Parliamentary) Committee of Enquiry reviewed the problem in 1971, concluding that the death of the trees was the result of deleterious effects of off-shore pollutants introduced via the North Bondi sewerage outfall. The concrete lookout tower on the butt of the southern groyne was constructed in 1975, after the foundations of groynes were exposed during severe storms in late 1974. During the 1980s, $4 million was allocated for improvements in Bondi Park, including the erection of picnic shelters, reconstruction of the pavilion forecourt area and entrance to carparking at Queen Elizabeth Drive, and construction of a skateboard track. The sea wall and promenade were stabilised between 1987 and 1992. Further work was done in constructing new pathways and planting trees in Bondi Park in 1992.
Bondi Park is a Crown reserve that was dedicated for Public Recreation on 28th January 1938. Waverley Council was appointed trustee for the care control and management of the reserve, on behalf of the Minister for Lands, on that date. Subsequently, the Bondi Park (D.500048) Reserve Trust was established for the management of Bondi Park, with Waverley Council appointed to manage this trust on 12 April 1996. (Information from Department of Lands, 9.1.2007).
The Marine Discovery Centre at Bondi Pavilion (which opened there in 2008) closed in October 2013, being unable financially to continue. Waverley Council have called for expressions of interest for the space, citing a tourist information centre as one of several options being considered (McDonald, 2013).
In December 2015 Waverley Council released a concept design for a $38m upgrade of the Bondi Beach Pavilion, proposing a complete makeover of front and rear facades, new theatre seating for 200 with retractable seats and toilet and shower facilities. Designed by Tonkin Zulaikha Greer the upgrade aims to maximise use of under-used spaces for the 14 million visitors to the beach each year. Council is expected to inject $14m with the shortfall made up from federal and state government funds. A federal grant of $1m has been committed. The concept plan is on exhibition until February 2016 (Thompson, 2015, 4).
After much public outcry against a $38m plan to overhaul the pavilion by former Waverley Mayor Sally Betts, Waverley Council has approved a revised brief of a more modest upgrade to the pavilion (Echternach, 2018).