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Bondi Pavilion’s Future: Redressing The Dressing Sheds

By Sarah Healey on February 7, 2013 in News

Photo: The Powerhouse Museum

If you’ve run like a cat on a hot tin roof over the sand and through the archways to the showers to hose half of Bondi Beach out of your cozzie, decided to expand your cultural vocabulary by visiting the theatre one evening, or gathered your glamorous posse together to pose whilst sipping jugs of Pimms at The Bucket List, then you’ve made ample use of the world renowned Bondi Pavilion.

Throughout its history, the “Ayers Rock of urban Australia” has proved to be both practical and entertaining, shaping the Bondi community since opening in 1911.

Home at various stages to change rooms, ballrooms, theatres, restaurants and even the exotic Turkish Hot Seawater Baths, the Pavilion has always been a cherished multipurpose space for locals and tourists alike. However, there is renewed debate over the tattered building’s future, with Waverley Council and community advocates trying to find common ground and forge a fresh beginning for the Bondi icon.

A new 10-year Plan of Management is underway for Bondi Park, Pavilion and Beach, with the first stage of consultation held between September and December 2012. Council received suggestions and comments from over one thousand people, a clear indication of community concern about the development and use of the site.

Waverley Council spokesperson Claire Thompson told The Beast it was great that so many people shared their thoughts and ideas.

“Many of the comments and suggestions related to the Bondi Pavilion. Examples of issues raised were the toilets, the use of the building overall, and opportunities for improving access to the rear of the Pavilion,” she said.

One group leading talks of invigorating the site is the Friends of Bondi Pavilion, which placed two submissions to Council at the end of last year. President Lenore Kulakauskas raised valid concerns over the Pavilion’s current state of management.

“I don’t know that any real thought has been given to how the spaces are being used. We’re concerned that it’s very piecemeal and there doesn’t seem to be any real direction or standards,” she said.

“It doesn’t appear to be regularly maintained, and gets into an unsightly state. It comes down to no one group looking at it objectively and having a vision for it, which is what we are hoping to do as friends – to work with Council.

“What we’re going to do this year is hold a series of workshops with various groups in the community who are interested in using the Pavilion on a regular basis and to see what we come up with, and hopefully the Plan of Management will be elastic enough to allow these sorts of ideas to be used,” Kulakauskas added.

Bondi Pavilion needs fluid spaces that benefit the community in multiple ways – artistically, culturally, historically and commercially. However, let’s not forget the other side of the coin: initially the Pavilion was erected as a public amenity.

“If we’re going to cope with the ever-increasing numbers of tourists and day-trippers it’s critical that we continue to improve that part of the building by way of providing excellent changing and toilet facilities, because that was always one of the main functions of the building,” Lawrie Williams, a Bondi local of 42 years, explained.

When you’ve got over 50,000 people clamouring down to Bondi’s shore on a busy day, you’d hope to find a sanitary public space where you didn’t have to hold your breath and hope for the best.

Council is currently collating all the community feedback from the first consultation phase into a report, which will be publically released by February.

“After that, draft future directions for Bondi Park, Bondi Pavilion and Bondi Beach will be put together and released for public comment. This will be the next phase of community consultation, occurring about April 2013,” the Council spokesperson said.

For further information, or to have an opportunity to participate in the future of the beloved ‘Castle Pavilion’, visit www.bondipavilion.com or www.waverley.nsw.gov.au/bondipom.

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