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Is the End Nigh for this Bondi Icon?

By Rupert Truscott-Hughes on June 14, 2016 in News

Photo: Mitch Winters

Photo: Mitch Winters

I’m not young or hip, nor am I an international visitor to the area. I only spend four or five months of the year living in Bondi and I would certainly never dare call myself a local (with a straight face, anyway). One thing I do know, though, is that the Bucket List has been a great addition to the Bondi beachfront since it first opened its doors a few years back. In fact, I would go as far as to say that it has become a Bondi icon.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you will by now be well aware that the Bondi Pavilion is set for a long overdue redevelopment and that Waverley Council’s plans for the Pav haven’t exactly left locals ‘stoked’ (to use the coastal parlance).

While the complexities and minutiae of the redevelopment are far too detailed to go into right here, one aspect of Council’s proposal that has drawn particular ire is the likelihood that the aforementioned Bucket List will be forced from its current digs and into a retail space on the first floor of the upgraded pavilion. This would be a great tragedy.

For many years Bondi lacked a good quality, laid back, egalitarian establishment on the beachfront that really embodied the Bondi lifestyle, embraced the amazing views on offer and captured the imaginations of both locals and tourists alike. Then came the Bucket List.

It really was a game changer, though it did take a couple of years to really hit its stride. The first couple of winters, from all reports, were tough, with the locals that feed the coffers through the colder months unwilling or untrained to venture beyond Campbell Parade when the sun had sunken or the weather turned fouled.

But Bucket List owner Andy Ruwald and his cohorts held strong. They tweaked and they tuned. They reinvested and reinvented. Above all, they kept trying. They were never far from the right formula, but without their perseverance they may never have found it. Eventually everything just clicked and things have been really rattling along since.

For me, a mid-fifties tosser who only calls Bondi home when the mercury is above 25 degrees and the sun is in the sky until after 6pm, I’m probably not the Bucket List’s key demographic, but I’ll tell you what, I’ve never felt uncomfortable in the place and doubt many people ever have. It happily hosts families, film stars, foreign visitors and old fogies like myself from all walks of life with accommodating aplomb, and that’s a hell of a lot more than I can say for many other local establishments.

I have to admit, I don’t know a hell of a lot about Waverley Council’s plans for the Pavilion, but I do know one thing for sure: if the Bucket List is forced to move, it will be everyone’s loss.
That said, the name of the bar itself is a stark reference to the brevity of life. If the Bucket List does go the way of the dodo, it does so knowing that it was a life well lived.