Bondi Stories Vol.1

First issue!

I would like to thank everyone who contributed material to this issue, and the many unique souls mentioned in their stories, some of whom are among the dearly departed. It is with great pride and a solemn heart that I respectfully acknowledge the many voices contained in these pages.

A huge thank you goes to the artist, Victoria Peel, whose pastel of South Bondi graces the front cover. Victoria’s great-great-great-uncle was none other than Barnett Levey, who is the subject of Bondi’s first larrikin, the last story in this issue. Vicki’s good friend, Joolee Eadie, is to be thanked for her photos of Andy Cochran, Barry Ross, Gary Moffatt, John Eccleston, Robert Fox and Wally Newell. These appear with the story by Robert Conneeley, entitled: The Hep Pit, which was actually taken from an interview by Matthew Ellks, who just happens to be his nephew.

I would also like to thank Margaret Dupré for her poem and the accompanying photos, one of which is credited to Dick Hoole, the surf film maker. In one of the photos, Margaret appears with her daughters India and Saffron sitting in front of the Pavilion. The decision to begin this first issue of Bondi Stories with a piece by Margaret Dupré is both a privilege and a tribute to one of Bondi’s classic characters.

Thanks also goes to Greg Webber, for his delightful vignette, entitled: Fuck Off, Trog!, and also for suggesting the name Bondi Stories, instead of Scum Valley, which was the original plan. Phil Leadley’s piece, entitled: The Lost Valley, bemoans the loss of community at Bondi, only to rejoice in its resurrection, through the bi-annual surfing contest and Old School Bondi Crew reunion. Thanks also goes to Mark Coleman, Richard Feyn, Michael Zaracostas, Lawrie Williams and Craig Robinson for sharing their accounts of one notorious beach inspector. Initially posted on Facebook, their comments appear within the article, entitled: The Beach Inspector. We will see if this becomes a regular feature.

A couple of blokes who have contributed immeasurably to surf culture through the medium of print, are John Witzig and Bruce Channon, both of whom documented Bondi’s surfing culture in the early seventies. John Witzig’s article, here entitled: The Beach Scene, captures the playground-like atmosphere of the urban beach. The piece by Bruce Channon, entitled Panache, is a uniquely revealing interview with some of the greatest names in Bondi’s surfing folklore: Brad Mayes, Steve Corrigan, Bruce Raymond, Ron Ford and Victor Ford.

I am especially grateful for Cheyne Horan’s contribution, entitled: The Hill, because it describes the world I entered as a kid stepping off the bus each day from Rose Bay in the mid-seventies. Ronnie Silcock gives us a taste of surf culture in the sixties, with a vignette entitled WindanSea. And his contemporary, John Sullivan, has given us an insider’s perspective on the legendary Bluey Mayes, whose life of surfing began in the 1930s. Harry Nightingale’s profile of his father, “Salty”, takes us back even further, to the very beginning of surfing in Australia. I cannot thank him enough for this contribution.

Last but not least, I would like to express my deepest appreciation to the B’nai B’rith Society for granting permission to include the article, originally entitled: Bondi’s First Jew, which was written by Bro. Dr. George F. J. Bergman and published in B’nai B’rith Bulletin, in 1955. I have taken the liberty of changing the title to: Bondi’s first larrikin, to suit the broader public. The story of Barnett Levey is uniquely relevant to this magazine, when you consider that his residence Waverley House was named after a famous novel with a social agenda. Perhaps, Bondi Stories is echoing the very same sentiment. In light of his commitment to literature as a vehicle of social development, it is an honour to carry on his legacy.

Dan Webber

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7 thoughts on “Bondi Stories Vol.1

  1. I think Bondi Stories are great, as I was born and raised has always been “home” to me no matter where I might be. To go back for a visit , is a revival and wipes out all stress. Born in 1930, Bondi was my Paradise! The happiest days of my life were spent there.

  2. Is there anyone old enough to remember the Dodgems at the beach? It was great to go there on a Friday night, racing around with all the kids trying to destroy each other. Another entertainment was the open air Cinema, great on a summer night. My family moved to Bondi in 1914 from Tamworth, when Dover Heights looked like sand hills. There were “white Russian” people and Jewish families moving there when I was young. My Mother went to school at Wellington Street and her brothers were tram/ bus and taxi drivers. My favourite spot for playing was what we called the “gulley”, a private property which had a sign “no tresspassers”, but it was like a jungle , a beautiful area. I often wondered who owned it! Reading about the llifesavers, brought back memories too, of being caught in a rip near the baths, and being rescued!

    • Lovely memories Pat! Have you read John Kingsmill’s book ‘The Innocent’? I think you would really love it as his memories are much like yours. I’d also recommend ‘Bondi’ with multiple authors and published by James Fraser Publishing in 1984. ‘Discovering Bondi’ and ‘The Best of the Bondi View’ also have great stories of early Bondi. You can get these books from your local library directly or by inter-library loan from Waverley Library. And do have a look at the Local Studies website on the Waverley Library homepage, here you will find a wealth of information on Bondi’s history. Kimberly O’Sullivan (Local Studies Librarian, Waverley Library)

    • I think my dad may have ridden the infamous dodgems! He too went to Wellington St. I love this country but Sydney is my heaven on earth. I wish they still had the open air cinema! Sounds lovely!

  3. Thank you for your replies. Yes, I have the book by John Kingsmill and remember him well as I grew up with his sister, Marion. We both lived in Wellington Street!

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