On Bondi Beach is a collection of 54 autobiographical accounts of Bondi, compiled by a team of social scientists from NSW University. A broad range of perspectives gives the reader considerable insight into the character of Bondi and how it has—and hasn’t—changed over the years. The project was conceived by Ann Game, whose strong personal connection to Bondi inspired her to record how locals felt about the place.
My favourite story describes the onslaught of a southerly buster. In Land and ocean meeting, Murray Cox shares a childhood memory of leaning into the wind at Ben Buckler after hordes of people had evacuated the beach. Another pearl is Todd Jackson’s Guys suss other guys out, which gives a surfer’s view of what really matters: catching waves! In Surfers ruled the beach, Luke Kennedy grapples with the legacy of past surfers and the radical transformation that beset Bondi in the latter decades of the century. In other stories, we learn of the tremendous support given to less-fortunate members of the community, most notably by Fran Wootton, who established Norman Andrews House.
The value of community is invoked throughout the book, with revealing anecdotes and personal reflections. One begins to sense that Bondi is composed of innumerable communities flowing in and around each other. The editors are to be commended. On Bondi Beach is a valuable contribution to the study of Bondi.