words by james phillips
Winter is finally upon us here in Bondi and the frosty mornings and icy evenings are getting harder to bear by the day. The freezing temps have your coffee going cold far too quickly and the daylight hours are diminishing before your eyes… there’s not too much to cheer about when winter comes round… that is unless of course, you are a shredder.
I know, I know… shredding’s for summer festival season… winter’s all about bulking. That’s not the type of shredding I’m talking about. I’m talking about carving up a big open face or shackin’ up deep inside a barrel. Yep, whilst the winter winds mean swapping the fan for the heater and chucking a thicker doona on the bed, it also means every surfer’s dream – bigger and better waves.
So at the dawn of this wonderful time of year, just as the east coast swells are starting to pick up, it’s time to reminisce a little on the humble beginnings of surfing in Bondi Beach.
As rare as it is these days to spot a Bondi wave without a surfer (x100 fighting for it) slicing his way through it, the water was not always so densely populated.
In fact, up until 1902, swimming at Bondi Beach was officially banned and for many years the sands were for picnics and the waters were deserted. That was until local legend Joe Gocher decided he’d had enough and dove in… it wasn’t long before everyone else ditched their boring land-fairing ways and headed to the sea.
Then, in 1920 the “human motor boat from Honolulu”, Duke Kahanamoku, introduced Aussies to surfing and it took the country by storm. As soon as the crowds had seen the Hawaiian Hero cruising, it didn’t take them long to raid the bushes for some bark, carve out their own boards and start shredding up the Bondi waves themselves.
Surfing took off and it flourished within the Surf lifesaving movement of the early 1900s when Bondi became Sydney’s undisputed home of surf with the creation of the world’s first formally documented surf lifesaving club, the Bondi Surf Bather’s Life-Saving Club. The first clubhouse was a simple tent in the dunes and the first lifesavers were just blokes that would love a swim. Now the Bondi Pav’s got an art gallery and funky bars on either side… and as for the lifesavers, well they’re paid to be there every day and are stars of their very own TV show, Bondi Rescue.
Yep, the surf scene has come a long way in Bondi. To celebrate this rich history, the legends at Let’s go Surfing are running a Discover Bondi Walking Tour three times a week until the 16th of July. The local lads will host an exclusive tour of the world’s oldest surf lifesaving club then take you to meet and get snapped with Bondi’s celebrity lifeguard’s before a guided walk along Bondi’s famous coastal headland which features Aboriginal rock carvings and if you’re lucky, a good spot to see the Humpbacks making their way past the Aussie coastline on their return trip from the waters of Antarctica.
All the deets HERE
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