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Bondi History Walks

Mar 3, 2016  ·  3 min read

By Niall Roeder.

You can walk around a place and think you’ve got the feel of it, but it’s not until you wrap your head around a bit of the history that you get a true feel for a place’s true character. Knowing a bit about the past and where something’s come from is a big part of understanding where it’s at today and where it’s heading in the future.

Bondi is a place steeped in history. From sandy beginnings it’s evolved to become Australia’s most famous suburb. The suburb’s bohemian and hedonistic past contains intriguing tales of life, love and adventure that you won’t find in books, but in the yarns of Bondi stalwarts. Stalwarts like local historian Sophia Smiley and ‘Mr Bondi’ himself, long-term resident and ex-head lifeguard, Lawrie Williams. Who are in quite fittingly, the guides on the Bondi History Walks.

A lot has changed over the years; it was only in the 1961 that over 50 women were ordered off the beach because the legs of their swimming costumes weren’t at least three inches long! Fast-forward to today and you wouldn’t be shocked to see topless sunbakers bronzing themselves on the sand. Between them both, Smiley and Williams have a wealth of knowledge when it comes to Bondi’s history and the hidden gems of Bondi Beach.

They’ll tell you about Black Friday in ‘38, when the Bondi Surf Bathers Life Saving Club performed over three hundred rescues after swimmers were swept out to sea by a series of massive waves. They’ll also tell you about ’55, when 40,000 people crammed onto the beach, with a further 60,000 gathered on the foreshore to see Queen Lizzy II at the first ever Royal Surf Carnival. They’re full of it. And I mean that in the best way – they’re full knowledge.

So before you venture out and hit the beach, shops, eateries and other quintessential Bondi activities, take two hours to walk around with a couple of locals and find out what made Bondi what it is today.

Bondi History Walks start at 10am and are approximately two hours long. Bookings are essential.

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