The name Bondi is onomatopoeic, and is derived from the Aboriginal word that describes the sound of waves as they boom into shore and sigh away. It is thought that Bondi Bay was created as the result of volcanic activity in the area many hundreds of thousands of years ago. This is the reason that Bondi’s beach faces south, a rarity along an east-facing coastline, the great southerly gales bringing crashing waves that pound the rocks and that over time have created the famous sweep of the bay in an amphitheatre of cliffs and hills.
It is believed that Bondi was the traditional land of the Cadigal and Biddigal tribes. The tribes came to the Bondi area to mine the volcanic rock to make flint tools. Beneath the sand dunes that front the beach is a stone floor with plenty of evidence of this activity, discovered early in the 20th century when a fierce cyclone whipped the sand from the beach revealing the floor and many Aboriginal artefacts.
Bondi has not always been the chic destination it has become. Some of the older locals recall a time when Bondi was seedy, “fly-blown (and) tatty … a decaying melange of seedy hamburger joints, sandy-floored milk bars, crumbing blocks of 1920s flats, and salt-encrusted windows and shop-fronts, typical of a thousand beach resorts from Margate to Coney Island.”
Those were the days of the trams, when the masses would flock to the sea crammed into a tram from the city each weekend. Take a look at these great videos for a glimpse of the old tram system.
Long a cultural melting pot, Bondi has always attracted tribes; there are thriving Russian and Jewish communities, throngs of backpackers, artists and musicians, packs of surfers ride the waves, bodybuilders flex their muscle and the sun worshippers pay homage on the hot sands.
Bondi fast becoming a millionaire’s playground, with a real estate boom attracting wealthy investors keen to secure a piece of the iconic beach. In turn, the beach is beginning to cater to their needs, with shops that offer everything from haute couture to a hamburger with the works, and real estate with views to rival anywhere else in the world.
For some genuine nostalgia / by-gone era please take a look at some recently re-discovered “Beachobatics” from Bondi Beach – ca 1930’s.
The Bondi region is a fascinating place. So close to the CBD, the area remains swathed in lush greenness, and the smell of salt on the breeze transports you far from the urban reality of the city. Centennial Park and Queens Park are right on the doorstep. Not much further out and Moore Park dissect the city, with Randwick Racecourse and the Royal Sydney Golf Course close by.
Neighbouring beaches such as Tamarama, Bronte, Clovelly and Coogee are all strong attractions in the area, as are nearby harbour suburbs Vaucluse, Rose Bay and Point Piper.