Historic image of Bondi Pavilion

Pre-First Contact

Home to the Bidjigal, Birrabirragal and Gadigal people whose family kinship ties connect them to clans as far south as the Shoalhaven, Sydney’s eastern beaches hold special Dreamtime connections between the First Peoples and the whales that pass Bondi during seasonal migrations. The land is utilised for fishing, meeting, and toolmaking. The site is directly linked by ridgelines and pathways to Port Jackson, Bellevue Hill, Watsons Bay and Botany Bay.


Edward Smith Hall purchased land from the Roberts family – including the beach – in what is known as the Bondi Estate.


Connecting the town to the sea, a new tram line from Bondi is extended to Bondi Beach.


A large storm unearthed an archaeological site at Bondi Beach, revealing hundreds of blades, tools and implements created by generations of Indigenous people and visitors to Bondi.


The ban on daylight ocean swimming was overturned to allow access to beaches between 8am-8pm.


In the spirit of community safety, Bondi Surf Bathers Life Saving Club was formed, marking it Australia’s first.


The boom in popularity at the beaches called for a temporary dressing shed to be built for the privacy of beachgoers to change in and out of their swimming costumes.


1000 municipal surf sheds – affectionately known as the Castle Pavilion – were built to a design by Taylor and Bills.


The architectural firm Robertson & Marks won a design competition held by Waverley Council for a Bondi Beach improvement scheme. Architected by Leith McCredie, the redesign of beach amenities, included the Bondi Pavilion, a suite of Turkish baths, shops, lockers, a gym, and a ballroom. Built in a mixture of Georgian revival and Mediterranean styles, the colonnade facades were an exotic complement to the setting.


The Bondi Pavilion foundation stone was laid in May.  With more people than ever enjoying the beach, the short-lived but much-loved Castle Pavilion was demolished in June to make way for improved amenities.


A milestone event in the local landscape, Bondi Pavilion officially opened on 21 December.
The Turkish and Hot Sea Water Baths opened in the Pavilion on 20 July, they had a massage room, a lounge, an electric fan for drying hair.


Construction began on the Bondi Beach Auditorium turning it into an amusement parlour with a stage tower incorporating caretaker’s quarters on the west side. By 1934 the site reverted to its bath house origins.


The groynes that controlled sand drift and gave bathers direct access to the beach from change rooms were destroyed in the case of invasion during World War II. The beach was now fenced with barbed wire as a war-time security measure.


The Pavilion’s top floor was taken over by the American Red Cross who ran it as an officer’s club until the end of the war.


The Pavilion obtained a liquor licence and the concerts, dances and cabarets that had continued through the war spun on.


The Turkish Baths were converted to a gymnasium run by the Bondi Boys Club.


In a bid to culturally transform the Pavilion, the Bondi Theatre Group formed to lobby for its reinvention for community use.


The Palm Court Ballroom was transformed into a theatre, officially opened by Prime Minister Gough Whitlam on 23 March.


A lookout tower was built on the north groyne remnant.


With a new rush of creative activity, the Pavilion became the centrepiece of Waverley Council’s Community Cultural Program The courtyards were grassed, an outdoor amphitheatre for 500 people intended for film screenings was built along with a netball court, child care centre and a restaurant. The National Trust of Australia (NSW) nominated the Pavilion for heritage listing.


The Pavilion, now in its 50thyear of establishment was officially opened by Premier Neville Wran on 25 June.


Artists Rodney Monk, David Humphries, Wayne Hutchings and Kristine Ammitzboll were commissioned to paint the Bondi the Beautiful mural, which became famed in the public arena.
Guido’s Famous Gelato signed a 21-year lease.


Ceramic tile murals were laid in the Pavilion foyer and mosaic flooring based on Aboriginal art was installed on the floor of a new hall from the foyer to the central court.


Bronze statues of a dolphin and lifesaver are unveiled on the Pavilion’s south by Waverley’s mayor in September.

Proposals to privatise the Pavilion for redevelopment were met with strong local opposition


Bondi Pavilion is included as a heritage site in Waverley’s Local Environmental Plan. A Bondi Pavilion Master Plan was developed with new community facilities, including a hall and music rehearsal rooms proposed for the southern courtyard, with access ramps on the front of the Pavilion and staff-community facilities in the south-east section. The 1975 lookout tower was demolished in 1999.


Bondi Beach hosts the Olympic Games beach volleyball events from 16-26 September.


Due to its heritage significance, planning for design and maintenance to the Pav's structure is required to take account of its historical and social significance. Designs and upgrades include construction of a new lookout tower on the southern groyne remnant, ramps to the eastern colonnade and conservation works to the eastern balcony.


A semi-circular restaurant addition extended the Pavilion’s north-east corner.
Works from the 1990s masterplan are completed.


Bondi Beach is placed on the National Heritage List in January as the birthplace of Australia’s beach culture. The Bondi Beach Cultural Landscape, including the Bondi Pavilion, is included on the State Heritage Register in June.


The Bondi Park, Beach and Pavilion Plan of Management is adopted by Waverley Council in November.


Waverley Council commissions TZG Architects to upgrade the Pavilion with improved facilities and amenities for visitors to the building, park, and beach.


The Pavilion continues to hold special community and cultural significance and with restoration now complete the building reopens with heritage features conserved and features an improved gallery, theatre and pottery facilities, music studios, a community radio studio and a beach heritage space named the Bondi Story Room.

A haven for community, arts and culture