In the early 1800s swimming at
Sydney's beaches was a controversial pastime. Convicts were forbidden from bathing in Sydney Harbour because of
"the dangers of sharks and stingrays, and for reasons of decorum". By the 1830's sea bathing was a popular
activity despite being officially banned between 9.00am and 8.00pm.
During the 1900s these restrictive attitudes began to relax and the beach became
associated with health, leisure and democracy - a playground everyone could enjoy equally.
The beginnings of the suburb go
back to 1809, when the early road builder, William Roberts, received from Governor Bligh a grant of 81 hectares
of what is now most of the business and residential area of Bondi Beach.
In 1851, Edward Smith Hall and
Francis O'Brien purchased 200 acres of the Bondi area that embraced almost the whole frontage of Bondi Beach,
and it was named the "The Bondi Estate." Between 1855 and 1877 O'Brien purchased Hall's share of the land,
renamed the land the "O'Brien Estate," and made the beach and the surrounding land available to the public as a
picnic ground and amusement resort.
Waverley was the second Sydney
suburb to become a municipality. This happened on June 13, 1859, when Sir William Denison, who was the
Governor-General and also the Governor-in-Chief of the Colony of New South Wales, proclaimed the establishment
of "The Municipality of Waverley". At one of its earliest meetings, in December, 1859, the new Waverley Council
divided the Municipality into three wards (or sections), and named them Bondi, Waverley and Nelson. Later a
fourth ward was added and called Lawson. Now those wards are named Bondi, Waverley, Hunter and
The first tramway reached the
beach in 1884. In the mid 1850s buses begun to run to the edges of the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney. Transport
beyond there was either on foot, horse or cart. Within a few years a number of private bus operators such as Old
Steve, Joe Smith and M. Macnamara provided transport up to Bondi Junction. Generally speaking the buses ran
about every half hour.
Waverley Council built the first surf bathing sheds in about 1903 and by 1929 an average of
60,000 people were visiting the beach on a summer weekend day. The opening of the pavilion that year attracted
an estimated crowd of up to 200 000.
By the 1930s Bondi was drawing
not only local visitors but also people from elsewhere in Australia and overseas. Advertising at the time
referred to Bondi Beach as the "Playground of the Pacific".
Bondi or Coogee?
The postcard is marked "Bondi" but the picture is of Coogee. The building in the background and the hill
behind it proves the fraud.