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Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Beach baby, beach baby, give me your hand

Our Sepia Saturday prompt for this week is a photograph of  Bondi Beach, Sydney Australia in 1908.  Below are two photographs of Bondi, c. 1948, from my Aunty Pat's postcard collection.  As you can see in Pat's first photograph, there was a lot of development around the beach foreshores in the forty years between these photographs and the first image, and not a lot of it was particularly attractive architecture, although it has been smartened up a bit in more recent years.  There are no longer any sand dunes but the beach sand itself is much improved, compared with 1908 when it looked to have been rather rocky in the foreground.

This view is taken from the opposite direction, showing the Bondi Surf Club on the right and the southern headland.

Early family life in Bondi

We moved from Canberra to Sydney in April 1980 when our first child Claire was two months old, and for the following two years we rented a little semi-detached cottage in the suburb of Rose Bay, within walking distance of Bondi Beach. Bondi wasn't really our favourite local beach because it is fairly exposed and always crowded, plus the fact that there was always a lot of litter in the sand, for example cigarette butts, discarded straws, bottle tops, ring pulls etc, that babies love to pick up and put in their mouths in an instant, but still, it was our closest beach. Some weekend evenings we would drive over to the shopping strip above Bondi Beach and queue up for some good local fish 'n chips. It was also fun to join the crowds admiring the lavish window displays of the many European style cake shops and to occasionally lash out on one or two slices of their luscious slices in a takeaway box for dessert back at home. Below are a couple of collages showing Claire growing up on Bondi Beach.

Clockwise from top left: Sitting on the promenade wall at 6 months, August 1980; trying out the toddlers' pool at 10 months, North Bondi December 1980; stepping out at a year old and taking a different view of the beach, February 1981

           Clockwise from top right: Easter 1981 (x 2); 18 months, rugged up on the sand at Bondi in August 1981; on the grass above the beach at the annual Festival of the Winds in September 1981; back on the beach, 2 years old and ready for a surf, February 1982
In May 1982 we bought a house in Turramurra, a suburb about 20 kilometres north of the city centre and so we moved away from Rose Bay. Of course we came back now and again to visit friends but we were no longer close to Bondi.  It was much easier to drive to Sydney's northern beaches such as  Dee Why which I've mentioned in an earlier post, or up to other beaches on the Central Coast than to face the traffic chaos that often occurred on the Sydney Harbour Bridge,  although we still did so occasionally in order to reach our old favourite southern beaches such as Bondi, Coogee and Bronte, which I've  also blogged about here previously.

A very well-known Australian photographer called Max Dupain took many famous photographs of Bondi,  including one which you can see here, simply entitled Bondi 1939. I once attempted a poor imitation of it, and  I must admit my shot was not even taken at Bondi, but was on the Central Coast, c. 1993. 

The following photo was taken on the steps of the Bondi Surf Club by my mother, after my husband had taken part in the annual City to Surf 14 km fun run. The pounding mass of runners used to charge past the top of the street where we previously lived, and parking would have been so much easier, if only we still lived there. The first City to Surf Fun Run took place in 1971 and will be held again in 2 weeks' time, on 8 August. In the local runners' group of which we were members in Turramurra, a number of people were proud to say they had participated every year since 1971. I even managed it myself half a dozen times in the past, mostly walking I confess, as I'm not a runner and it's a very hilly course. One year I took a series of photos en route  using my then very basic phone camera. They are not worth showing here as they are only pixelated printouts, but my caption of the last photo looking down on Bondi Beach reads:"The best view is at the end".  Unfortunately from that point the finish line is still about a kilometre away!

With over 80000 entrants already registered this year, the City to Surf claims to be the biggest event of its kind in the world, and with so many runners and walkers plus crowds of spectators and supporters lining the route, it will be no doubt be practically impossible to move anywhere around Bondi that day, even on foot! Afterwards people can have trouble getting back home, as the nearest train station is several kilometres away and they have to either line up in very long queues and then pile into buses, or alternatively toil uphill to the Bondi Junction station. The Bondi tram ceased running in 1960, but in any event it never could have coped with these numbers! Some runners cool down afterwards with an ocean swim, but not too many as it is winter of course. Sydney winter temperatures could well reach the low to mid 20s on a sunny day however, and there will always be hardy locals who swim the length of the beach each day, plus visiting international  tourists taking the plunge, just so they can say they've swum at the famous Bondi Beach.  We haven't taken part for over 10 years now, and hope to be relaxing on a beach somewhere on the Queensland Sunshine Coast on City2Surf Day this year, 9 August 2015.

                                                                  City to Surf August 1984

   Proof of completion: a slimmer, curlier me after my first City to Surf, 1998. My bib entry number was      probably also about where I came in the race result as well!

Back for another Festival of the Winds at Bondi in 1995, with views showing both ends of the beach.

You might like to click here for an interesting site on the history and development of Bondi, including photographs.

I could have included a clip of the American group First Class singing their hit song 'Beach Baby, Beach Baby' in 1974, but instead thought you might enjoy this one filmed on Bondi Beach. The guy who starts it off is a rather unlikely looking dancer, but still, he carries it off quite well!

That's enough from me, but for more beach photographs worldwide, just click here and dip your toe in at  Sepia Saturday # 289,
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