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Bondi Tells Its Own Story

By Nicola Smith on July 28, 2021 in News

Team Bondi back in 1937. Photo: State Library of NSW

A new local history space, The Bondi Story Room, will open in the newly renovated Bondi Pavilion, providing locals and visitors alike with an immersive, digital, history experience.
Waverley Mayor Paula Masselos said the project aims to reveal untold tales of Bondi’s history.
“We have been digging through our own archives and working with historical and other institutions across the country to uncover the many lesser-known tales of our extraordinary residents,” Mayor Masselos told The Beast.
The Bondi Story Room will feature a digital mural where visitors can interact with Bondi stories dating from pre-colonisation to the present.
Participants will be able to tap on the figure they would like to learn more about on the digital display and hear personal stories of Bondi’s history.
Todd Fuller, Waverley Council’s gallery and curatorial assistant, said that both the concept and the content of the history room were driven by community engagement.
“There have long been passionate members of our community who care about Bondi Pavilion and local history. These are people who have grown up in Bondi and had major events of their lives unfold on the sand. They wanted a space that holds all the stories of the rich characters of Bondi,” Mr Fuller told The Beast.
The project has gone through many rounds of community consultation and stakeholder committees, and it is set to launch with the reopening of the pavilion in early 2022.
Over 700 local stories have been nominated to date and they will continuously refresh and cycle through in the Story Room, so everyone’s story is told and no two visits are the same.
In recognising that history is always being made, the story room is designed to be an ongoing living library with an online portal through which people can submit their stories which will then be reviewed and uploaded by the curatorial staff.
The room is being developed in collaboration with digital artists Grumpy Sailor and will include soundscape, video game and museum technology.
Tanya Goldberg, executive manager of communications, culture and events at Waverley Council, said that the purpose of this array of technology is to create a powerful interaction with history.
“We are hoping to create a rich atmospheric experience, something that you really feel with all of your senses, rather than some sort of museum exhibition, it will be something immersive,” Ms Goldberg told The Beast.
The stories included in the project include those of Indigenous culture, migration, surfing history and more, with the team still searching for stories to add to the room.
Mr Fuller said that they are on the lookout for relevant, diverse stories from Bondi.
“Sometimes what’s significant is very personal, so it doesn’t have to be significant to the public record, just to the person submitting it,” Mr Fuller said.
One story included in the project is that of Ms Lea Hill who passed away in April 2021 and was featured in the June edition of The Beast.
Ms Hill’s pioneering spirit in encouraging both women and older competitors in winter swimming clubs and surf lifesaving events is a prime example of local stories The Bondi Story Room will feature.
“We are still very much welcoming new contributions from the community. If your grandma was a Miss Bondi that we should know about, we want you to get in touch through the Have Your Say portal,” Mr Fuller told The Beast.
You can contribute a story to the Bondi Story Room at haveyoursay.waverley.nsw.gov.au
or by emailing BondiStoryRoom
@waverley.nsw.gov.au.

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