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Bondi’s Big Rock – Part 1

By Kimberly O'Sullivan on July 23, 2013 in Other

Photo: Waverley Library Local Studies

Photo: Waverley Library Local Studies

On the flat rock platform below the cliffs of Ben Buckler, Bondi’s northern headland, sits a huge boulder. Attached to its side is a brass plate which reads:

Municipality of Waverley. This rock weighing 235 tons was washed from the sea during a storm on 15 July 1912. January 1933. J. S. MacKinnon. Town Clerk.

It was fixed to the rock on 16 March, 1933.

On Saturday July 13, 1912 Sydney was under the influence of monsoonal activity resulting in a steady downpour of rain. Conditions deteriorated the following day and the weather was described by The Daily Telegraph as “a cyclonic storm – a bleak southerly gale raging, with fierce rain squalls. During the afternoon the rough weather on the coast continued with, if anything, greater fury.”

The Sydney Morning Herald described the weather as coming “from a cyclonic disturbance between Lord Howe Island and the central coast of NSW”, reporting that the wind was up to 113 kilometres per hour along the coast, from Manly to Long Bay, and beaches sustained serious damage.

The wild weather continued over the weekend with newspaper reports describing waves at Tamarama as “rolling in like mountains” and sea spray breaking at points “which had previously been unvisited by the waters of the Pacific”. The Bronte Baths were damaged by this storm and the force of the sea threw huge boulders into the Bogey Hole.

On Bondi Beach the ocean had washed up to the edge of the concrete wall that then ran behind the beach, completely covering the sand. At Bondi Baths a gigantic plank, probably a diving board, described as being “about a foot in thickness”, was snapped in half.

The Watts family who lived in the old ‘Castle’ Pavilion, the forerunner to the current Bondi Pavilion, right on Bondi Beach reported being terrified by the storm as the south-facing beach bore the full front of the weather.

It was after this wild weather subsided that a giant boulder on the North Bondi rock platform was first noticed. It was reported that the force of the mountainous seas that swept along the beaches during these storms had thrown up this enormous submerged sandstone rock from the ocean onto the rock platform.

In November 1932 it was grandly titled “Bondi’s Gibraltar” by the Sydney Morning Herald, which reported on Waverley Council’s decision to put a “tablet” on the rock twenty years after its presence was first recorded, in order to record its history.

If you would like to learn more about the colourful of history of the Eastern Beaches area you can call Waverley Council Local Studies Librarian Kimberly O’Sullivan on 9386 7744 or send her an email at