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The Beast’s Monthly Mailbag

By The Wonderful People of the Eastern Suburbs on October 21, 2021 in People

Local Development Applications

There is an aspect of the proposed redevelopment of the Coogee Bay Hotel and surrounds that has not received the attention it deserves. The proposal includes 60 new apartments. While it records that some existing residential accommodation is to be demolished, it does not record the number of apartments or residents affected. Nor does it give any attention to their fate.
The fact is that the residential buildings to be demolished offer inexpensive housing. There is no way that their residents could buy into the proposed new apartments. These people – and there are many of them – are going to be forced out of their homes and forced out of the area. It is notorious that real estate prices, followed though not equalled by rents, are increasing rapidly in areas like Coogee.
The applicant for this development frequently expresses enthusiasm for the public interest, though serving it does not extend to these people. Once again, the truth is the opposite of the buzz words and clichés they use again and again in their application. In this instance, it is a shameful truth that shows a cynical and contemptuous attitude of the applicant towards real people.
On August 31, 2021, the original date scheduled for the close of objections to the DA, the owner of these residential buildings delivered a letter to the residents. One would expect that, as the owner, it would know the names of those who pay the rent, or at least could find them out. But no, treating them as anonymous objects will do.
The letter was addressed to “Occupant” – not “The Occupant”, just “Occupant” – in an act of carefree negligence, that then became “Dear Occupant”.
“Dear Occupant, The Coogee Bay Hotel owner and operator, C!NC Hotels, along with Cotton Property Group, are excited to inform you that together, we have submitted a development application to Randwick Council for the contemporary makeover of the Coogee Bay Hotel and surrounding site.”
In other words, we are excited to tell you that soon you will be homeless. The narcissism and intense self-satisfaction in their own cause completely blinds them to the misfortune about to descend on others.
Excitement indeed. The cold impersonality of the letter continues to the end, where the name of the managing director appears in typing but without the extra effort of a signature.
These people proclaim themselves eager to serve the public interest. Any decent and humane proposal would contain some lowcost housing in the public interest.
Janet Bell


Coogee Bay Hotel Redevelopment
As a recent resident of Coogee, I would like to object to the size of the proposed development. Coogee is a beautiful beach area that requires to approve developments which add to the area and not detract from it with increased traffic and overdevelopment.
Harry Tamvakeras


Coogee Bay Hell
Dear Sir/Madam – Would you consider printing my comments below about the above issue in the next edition of your magazine?
Overshadowing and significant view loss with a monolithic structure takes away the open air feel that is part of the unique Coogee Bay landscape.
The open space park in front of the beach will have significant overshadowing in the afternoons, and this alters the environment for all residents and visitors to the beach area.
The natural beauty of the coast and proximity to the beach near the ocean water at this location is important and should not be dominated by a single oversized development such as this proposal for the Coogee Bay Hotel.
The proposal resembles a Gold Coast high rise, dominating all the other properties and the roads surrounding it, taking away the relaxed and open aspect of the locality.
It is important that all people enjoy the public open spaces in and around the Coogee foreshore for their own health and well-being. This proposal impacts this aspect of the public open space.
Andrew Tosti


The edifice at Coogee
While an upgrade to the Coogee Bay Hotel would be welcome, the current proposal is massive overkill. The 24-metre high mass of the tower will dominate the village and create a visual wall like a dam across the skyline. We do not need another disaster like the monster on the corner of Arden and Carr Streets. The road system will be hard pressed by the traffic surge and everywhere around will be blocked. Not good.
Andrew Jakubowicz


Proposal to redevelop The Coogee Bay Hotel
I write as a long-term resident of Coogee (30-plus years) who has grave concerns about the latest proposal to redevelop the Coogee Bay Hotel.
This is an absolutely appalling proposal that will alter the character of a much-loved and protected precinct, and not for the better.
The proposal is way too high and too long. It’s just way too big. The legal height limit of 12 metres was reached some years ago after substantial consultation with the community, and after a great fight. The boutique hotel was permitted to be much higher at one point,

precisely because the gable roof allowed views from both ways and it was just at that one point. The character of the boutique hotel was also in keeping with the heritage look of the pub, with it’s iconic roofline, palm tree and beer garden. It’s part of the character of the Coogee Village. The developer now proposes to use that concession, granted at the time in good faith, as a trojan horse to build a great high wall of apartments that will loom over the heritage building in front, completely destroying the look and feel of it.
Not only that – the apartments behind the hotel that will be demolished to make way for the new luxury flats are currently available to a mixture of people, many of them not on high incomes. The streets may not be slick and shiny, but they represent an authentic side of Coogee, with a certain raffish charm, and they are homes for people who deserve to live near the beach as much as the next rich person. The proposal entails demolishing three buildings on Vicar Street and at least one on Coogee Bay Road – forty homes, for families and singles, including the elderly. These are the kind of people who will never be able to afford to buy one of the new apartments that will replace their homes.
Coogee has a unique feel, it’s a village, with a mixture of owners and renters, high and low income. We absolutely do not want or need another crass commercial version of Bondi, Cronulla or the Gold Coast.
Remember, this proposal is right on the beachfront. It will dominate the view. It’s ugly. It will block the view of the sky and the street of Coogee going back up the hill, looking west from the beach.
The proposal is also for a large supermarket and three underground floors of parking, with the entrance and exit on Arden Street! This is ridiculous. That intersection is already incredibly busy and is heavily used by pedestrians. The proposal states that a supermarket is needed, as the existing Woolworths is 200 metres away. In what world can people not walk or drive 200 metres to a supermarket? There is also a huge shopping centre down the road at Pacific Square, Maroubra, with a Coles and an Aldi, and numerous supermarkets at Randwick Junction just up the road, and Bondi Junction. This is a beach area – another supermarket is definitely not the right kind of development.
There is also an “eat street” in the proposal. Sorry, we already have one of them, and it is called Coogee Bay Road. It’s authentic too – not some developer’s idea of what an “eat street” is. I feel like we are living in an episode of Utopia.
Why can’t the owner of the Coogee Bay Hotel propose something that is actually within the agreed law? Why should any proposal higher than the legal 12 metres even be given the time of day? This is the same kind of appalling development process that gave us the Crown Casino building at Barangaroo – and what a disaster that has turned out to be.
This development is just not appropriate, needed or wanted by the people who actually live here, pay rates and vote, and who love Coogee and want to protect it – for everyone.
Marianne Leitch


Coogee Bay Monstrosity
As a long-time Coogee resident, I was dismayed to note that some out-of-towner has applied to erect another eyesore right on our beachfront. The local authorities let the other beachfront hotel get away with that monstrosity, no more!
John Woodruff


Proposed Plans for The Coogee Bay Hotel
Hi guys – As you are the mouthpiece of the east and have your finger on the pulse of so many people who live in the 2031 and 2034 postcodes and surrounding ‘burbs, surely you can’t help but notice the absurd monstrosity that the owners of the Coogee Bay Hotel are trying to force on us locals?
This monstrosity of a project will totally destroy the laid-back atmosphere of Coogee. Coogee is not Bondi Beach; let’s preserve the old seaside facade of the building and preserve that laid-back way of life.
Bernie Roberts


Short Memories
Dear Editor – Does the Coogee Bay Hotel, the source of so much alcohol-fuelled violence over decades, which regularly put Coogee in the national headlines and led the way in creating the need for lockout laws to be introduced (which crippled many businesses), really need to be expanded and developed? People have short memories. They should not be rewarded with a vastly larger venue. Coogee will not be better off for it.
Kim Millar


Opening up the heritage of the Waverley War Memorial Hospital
The War Memorial Hospital site has a rich and interesting history. On ANZAC Day, 1919, Jane Vickery donated the site to the Methodist Church. Over the last 100 years, the church, and now Uniting NSW.ACT, has been dedicated to using the site to provide essential community services including aged care, retirement living and hospital services.
Uniting and the Uniting Church are proud of the work they have done to maintain these buildings over the last century and will continue to maintain the heritage of the buildings including the rich historical meaning to the community.
The Waverley redevelopment proposal by Uniting plans to honour and enhance the heritage aspects of the site. One of the exciting features of the redevelopment is the significant amenity for the local community. The land on which the hospital stands has great financial value, but Uniting believes it has far greater value in being a place that continues to offer community services in line with Jane Vickery’s original vision when it was gifted.
The proposed development will feature retirement living, residential aged care, a seniors gym, affordable housing and hospital augmentations to meet future needs of the local health district. The development proposal aims to open up the site for public viewing and appreciation of the heritage during certain periods and will include community gardens available for use of the community.
Biophilic design and heritage have been important considerations in the development proposal for the War Memorial Hospital site and its surrounds. The drafted Development Control Plan (DCP) will have tight controls on heritage, canopy cover, informed open spaces for residents and opportunities for tree replacement, as well as ensuring landscape visibility. Green spaces are a critical aspect of our design.
Currently the War Memorial Hospital site and its surrounds are private and closed off to the community. The buildings within the site are not visible as a part of our local skyline and the community are unable to experience the history and beauty of this site.
We have consulted with the Vickery family and they are huge supporters of these proposed changes. This development aims to honour the memory of Vickery’s gift and vision, a vision we look forward to sharing with the community for many years to come.
Simon Furness
Director of Property and Housing at Uniting NSW.ACT


COVID-19 in The East

Cone of Silence
On August 27, Randwick LGA had less than half the COVID cases of Bayside, which had been on the hotlist for weeks. In the last three days, we caught up and overtook Bayside’s case numbers – today (September 20) having 693 to Bayside’s 689.
On August 14 a party was held at Maroubra and was attended by 60 people. We were told about this party seven days later. 16 attendees were COVID positive. A week later it was announced (at the bottom of an obscure article on some unrelated topic) that 90 people connected to the party had tested positive and it was declared a super-spreader event. They are the only two mentions of this event that I can find in the media.
Now, without being a mathematical genius, it figures that this party could be responsible for every one of the 693 current Randwick cases. It is highly likely that almost every one of those 693 cases is connected to the party, because on August 27 the official Randwick COVID positive figure was 111.
We know who the attendees at the Orthodox Jewish engagement party in Melbourne were, and how much they were fined. We know who attended the South Western Sydney party that carried the virus from one limo driver (piece of cake to nip the problem in the bud – as Scomo said, Gladys had set the gold standard for dealing with COVID issues without upsetting the business community) to much of NSW, large numbers of infections and two new prolonged lockdowns in Victoria, transmission to most other states and territories, and even New Zealand. Good work, Gladys.
But we know nothing more about this super spreader elephant in the room. Have the attendees been caught and fined? Who were they? I can only surmise they are some kind of protected species – a Hillsong congregation (another Ruby Princess event?), Liberal Party donors, or maybe rugby league icons. Asking around, people say, “It was just a bunch of kids!” So, that’s OK?
Pamela Young


Dumb choices
Of course it’s your choice to be vaccinated or not. However, if you decide against it, then please do not inflict yourself upon our hospital services when you contract the virus. Stay at home and deal with it. I don’t care.
The very reason you’re currently alive and able to make your stupid choice is because vaccines for diseases like polio, diphtheria, typhoid, smallpox, tetanus, whooping cough, measles, yellow fever, etc. were available and used by your parents and ancestors. Are you too dumb to get the irony?
Gavin Kleinhans
Bondi Beach


Local Government Issues

Money for Prawn heads
Dear Beast – Woollahra and Randwick LGA residents can toss food scraps, including prawn heads, into their green bins. It’s not even that stinky at Christmas as they have special composting bags. I wish we had the same system in Waverley. Aside from the environmental benefits of composting, the council could make money from our food waste.
M Hughes
North Bondi


Hi James – Waverley Council has been diligent with their Have Your Say page to involve the local community, but how much is too much? The 196-page Biodiversity Action Plan is a massive piece, and I congratulate Council for all the work. However, I wonder if Council should allocate some of this money to maintaining our verges and widening the coastal walk around Tamarama and Bondi. A conflict between runners and walkers remains a problem in this area.
The Action Plan suggests that development is eroding the remnant vegetation, but images of Bronte Cutting in the past show this is not the case – there is more vegetation now than ever before. The coastal walk is a national treasure and requires regular maintenance, but planting extra species as part of the Biodiversity Action Plan should not overshadow the magnificent bare rock-face of the coastal walk with its unrestricted views to the sea.


Shameless Waverley Council
For a change of scenery on Saturday morning I walked down to Bronte Beach. It was lovely to see everyone out exercising, enjoying packed picnic breakfasts and walking their dogs. However, on my walk home I was disgusted by the number of cars I saw papered with parking tickets (I have a picture of three cars in a row with parking tickets).
People are having a tough time at the moment (mentally and many financially). Not everyone is able to make the long walk down to the lawn and have to drive to get access to open space within their five kilometre radius. Charging residents for the pleasure of parking is one thing, but callously hitting them up with parking fines during a city-wide, hard lockdown is another. Tone deaf and shameful.
Patrick Walsh


Waverley Council reduces garbage truck noise in Bronte
I would like to thank Waverley Council for instructing the garbage removal operators to reduce the noise during the weekly emptying of garbage bins, in particular quietening down the garbage trucks’ loud reverse beepers.
It is very much appreciated, and hopefully garbage removal will not wake us up at dawn every Friday morning anymore!
Dariusz Janiak


Kitchen caddy bins: a positive update
Hello James – I’m happy to report that John Swanton (Kitchen Caddy Bins, Letters, The Beast, October 2021) can put his second big thumb up now, as Randwick Council has heard and taken on board the fact that the first wave of green recyclable bags for food waste that were distributed were too small for the kitchen caddies. And the good news is that the second wave of bags, recently distributed, are bigger, and big enough. A gold star for the council!
Anne Ring


State Government Issues
Paging Dr O’Neill
In response to the rosy portrait of lockdown painted by Dr Marjorie O’Neill in her recent column (We’ve Come a Long Way, The Beast, October 2021) – what planet are you living on?
“We have witnessed a level of kindness and caring for each other probably only seen before during times of war…” No, we have seen neighbours dobbing each other in to CrimeStoppers for every perceived infraction and old busybodies gleefully policing everyone around them.
“Independence and adaptability are particularly evident in our school children, who have learnt to function in an environment very different from the one they were used to…” If by adaptability you mean a startling increase in self-harming behaviors and suicidal ideation.
“Those in small or crowded dwellings who have discovered a space within a space…” Shall I go out on a limb and suggest that Dr O’Neill isn’t riding out lockdown in such a dwelling?
“Parents and carers have mastered the fine art of juggling employment, domestic chores and home schooling…” I won’t even dignify that with a response.
“Recognition of the value of our frontline workers… has been a theme of recent months…” Frontline workers continue to be paid minimum wage to accept risks to their health to keep our economy running, endure draconian lockdown rules and police harassment, and generally be treated like pariahs by anyone in the Eastern Suburbs.
I’m sure Dr O’Neill’s intention was to buoy our spirits, but to read this delusional missive that could not be further from the situation on the ground is simply insulting. If our MP is so out of touch that she thinks that all is truly sunshine and lollipops in lockdown then I suppose it’s no surprise that our government has had no qualms locking us in our homes for over three months.
Bondi Beach


Woman Up!
Hi James – It was very cruel of you to publish the letter about Dr. Marjorie O’Neill (Doctor, Doctor, Give me the News, Letters, The Beast, October 2021) from William Ockham, because the letter so eloquently displays the writer’s puerile misogyny.
His cheap comments on Dr. O’Neill’s appearance and personal activities evoke the vituperative attacks on powerful women that we heard from Tony Abbott and Alan Jones. The writer appears to be ignorant of the careful detailing of these attacks, and others, in many articles by Anne Summers and in Tosca Looby’s recent ABC documentary, ‘Strong Female Lead’. Recommended viewing.
Dr. O’Neill’s focus may have temporarily strayed from plastic bags, and while this is a serious issue, plastic bags are not causing severe illness to 90,372 and death to 1,186 Australians to date – and counting. On the contrary, Dr. O’Neill’s daily emails have informed thousands of people in her electorate of Coogee and nearby areas about the state of play with the pandemic and arrangements for protection and vaccination. They have provided much better and more targeted information than we’ve had from the state or federal governments. Your own pages have carried many articles from Dr. O’Neill with monthly updates, advice, information and support. This very month you’ve published her outstanding message of care for our community, encouraging and supporting all of us who have patiently and stoically dealt with the difficulties of the pandemic.
In conclusion (almost!), William Ockham advises Dr. O’Neill to “man up” – an ugly phrase that demonstrates his lack of understanding of the strength and compassion of the woman we are lucky enough to have as our state representative.
Sandra Alexander


In Reply to William Ockham
Dear William – After the 2019 state election, in line with my deep commitment to ban single use plastic bags, I wholeheartedly supported a bill put forward in the NSW parliament by the NSW Labor opposition which would have finally seen our state take positive and decisive action to end the use of this major environmental pollutant, the ‘Plastic Shopping Bags (Prohibition On Supply By Retailers) Bill 2019’.
When the house divided on the bill the vote was sadly lost, as 48 Coalition MPs voted against the bill, although the 36 Labor MPs, including of course myself, voted in support of the bill. The Liberals’ opposition to this much needed legislation was a blow to me and to the great majority of our community who supported it.
My commitment to advancing environmental issues, including the removal of all single use plastics and waste reduction, has not waivered. I also know that, like myself, there is huge community concern about the mountains of non-recyclable packaging and so-called reusable plastic bags entering our waste every day. My voice on these issues can be heard in a number of forums including my Coogee Voice podcasts and in my many articles to be found in The Beast archives. Check them out.
Marjorie Spooner O’Neill
State Member for Coogee


Three cheers for Service NSW!
Recently, I had two phone calls to make. One was to Telstra and one was to Service NSW. I rang Telstra first and was disconnected twice after they had delivered their message for me to go on the website. When I finally found a number that didn’t hang up on me I was then made to type back and forth to a robot until, after forty minutes, I received an answer to my question. Such a waste of time and very demeaning. I summoned my strength and rang Service NSW. A person answered the phone and gave me my answer within 30 seconds. Service 24 hours a day, and you get to talk to a human. Thank you, NSW government, for this wonderful service.
Sally Morrison
North Bondi


Federal Government Issues

Dave Sharma’s Climate Inaction
Dear Beast – I am one of the many readers who love your magazine and also want our government to actually do something about climate change. So you can imagine my pleasant surprise to see MP Dave Sharma telling us all about the dangers of climate change and the need to reduce emissions (Australia Must Accelerate Our Climate Action, The Beast, October 2021). I decided to overlook the fact that it was Sharma who last year supported a ‘gas-fired recovery’ as our way out of the pandemic – as if burning more fossils fuels will help us. I also had to ignore his talk of more electric vehicles, given that he himself was criticising an electric vehicle target just two years ago. But then when I read his piece, I simply couldn’t overlook his proposed solution – net-zero emissions by 2050, which is simply not enough. Scientists are telling us that we need rapid, short-term emissions reductions, with a 50 per cent target by 2030 as an absolute minimum, if we’re to avoid the worst-case scenario of 2 degrees warming. If Dave Sharma is finally serious about climate action, he should start with listening to the scientists.
Felix Taaffe


Greenwishing Sharma
In The Beast’s October issue, Dave Sharma writes, “the recent report form the IPCC is a sobering wake-up call”. This is more greenwashing – misleading readers that the Liberals are green – than greenwishing – wishing to be greener that you actually are.
Sharma’s statement is a bit like the Taliban saying a recent report from the UN on our abuse of women is a sobering wake-up call.
Sharma’s Liberal Party is the party of rampant environmental vandalism ranging from the fight against Labor’s environmental tax to the Liberal Party’s support for Adani, to support for land clearing and stratospheric rates of animal extinction – the list goes on.
Recently, the internationally acclaimed,
for example, ranked the Liberal Party’s green policy as “Highly Insufficient”, and this includes the Mad Monk, Turnbull and Scomo.
By the way, Scomo, Scotty from marketing, is set to waste $90 billion of tax money on nuclear U-boats. The average spending on solar panels is $5,250 per house in Australia. If one divides the $90 billion by that number, one gets to 17,142,857. That means with that money we could put solar panels on over 17 million houses. Yet Australia has only 9.9 million houses. Hence, we would have enough tax money to put solar panels on every house in Australia and throw free batteries in as well. This would provide all Australians with free electricity for years to come and lots of jobs in production and maintenance. Bye bye electricity bill.
In short, the greenwishing Liberal Party screws us twice. Firstly, by wasting $90 billion, and secondly, by not giving us free electricity for decades to come. Some, when seeing their next electricity bill, might wonder, “Shall I really vote for those who f*** me twice?”
Thomas Klikauer
Sweet Coogee


Don’t Wait Until it’s Too Late
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) recently released its report ‘Climate Change 2021: the Physical Science Basis’, which has sent shock waves across the world. The report shows that without urgent action to reduce carbon emissions the world that we know and love is in serious peril. This may sound dramatic, but increasingly extreme and frequent weather events like unstoppable bushfires, 50-degree temperatures and droughts we have recently experienced are only going to get worse.
Like COVID, climate warming will affect the whole world, and Beast readers of course will not be immune. The IPCC report has made it very clear that we only have a small window of time left to make the changes required to ‘turn back’ from the devastating impacts of global warming. The IPCC Report does highlight that there is hope – as long as there is immediate action. However, this requires our politicians, at all levels of government, to take urgent and effective action. Adopting a much more ambitious timeframe for reaching zero emissions will mean urgently stopping the use of fossil fuels and putting in place effective plans to move our economies and communities to a low emissions sustainable level.
Key climate scientists have shown we need to commit to a 75 per cent reduction in emissions by 2030, with an aim to reach net zero by 2035. A target of net zero by 2050 will be much too late.
The Prime Minister’s response to this urgent wake up call was characterised by complacency, which is highly disappointing but sadly not out character. In the previous edition of The Beast, Wentworth MP Dave Sharma’s response (Australia Must Accelerate Our Climate Action, The Beast, October 2021) was no less disappointing. We know we can and must aim at much better than net-zero by 2050, and a slight increase in the 2030 target. From November 1-12 this year, Australia will attend the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference, also known as COP26, in Glasgow, a conference which many see as the last chance for countries across the globe to act to bring runaway climate change under control.
We ask concerned Beast readers to urgently email or call their MPs. Let them know that you expect Australia to set ambitious targets at COP26 to reduce our carbon emissions to a sustainable level, and tell them that they must put in place detailed actions and plans that can be monitored and evaluated, to ensure we reach these targets.
Concerned Eastern Suburbs Residents


Other Local Happenings
Love the cover!
Dear James – Congratulations on the cover of the October edition of The Beast. What an energising, uplifting and all-round wonderful artwork. The movement in the waves, the fabulous floating hair, the lovely sea colours – well done Anouk, and make sure you keep creating! I’m sure Anouk’s artwork gave many of us a smile just when we needed it most.


If you live in Coogee, and likely other eastern beachside suburbs, you have quite a lot of aircraft noise. You put up with it because that is the price of living in such a glorious location.
Add to this the noise from helicopters from the lifesaving services. And, when someone gets into strife in the surf or on nearby clifftops, multiple rescue helicopters can circle overhead for hours giving assistance to those in distress. To these you can add police force helicopters, which from time to time circle overhead, seemingly endlessly, at nights with searchlights, seeking out miscreants. During the lockdown, it was not unusual for the police helicopters to circle menacingly overhead, sometimes with loudspeaker announcements, lest any local attempted to coalesce into non-socially distanced groups.
OK! Reasonable people will accept the noise from these aerial beasts as having some social benefit. They are necessary for the community to operate safely.
What is not easy to accept are the helicopters, which fly up and down the coast, including Coogee, pulling huge advertising banners. Over the October Labour Day weekend, for instance, was the constant drone of the noise of the helicopters towing the advertising banner for the “TAB Everest” horse racing event. There have been others.
Oh, come on! We have our fair share of aerial noise. Do we really need the advertising choppers? Can’t they take out a newspaper ad? Even in The Beast?!
Paul Convy


Frustrated neighbour with parking
Just another rant from a neighbour – We have a construction site happening across the road, and the site manager keeps putting cones on the public road thinking it’s his, and then takes them away when his mate in his F150 rocks up and parks. We have very little parking, but the arrogance and bullying from this builder (Growthbuilt), plus the aggressiveness of the site manager, is outrageous. After lodging several complaints to Woollahra Council this continues to go on. Good start for a 20-month construction lead time.
Daniel Covarrubias
Bellevue Hill


Childhood Memories of Bondi
I was born in 1945 and lived in a one bedroom flat on Lamrock Avenue. I slept in the lounge room, sharing it with my sister. There was no need for swimming pools and the like when the best beach in Australia was a short walk down the road and the folks had you swimming training in Bondi Baths, under the watchful eye of coach Claude Seabrook.
Where I grew up it was all about us kids. We would gather in Chambers Avenue and play tennis with wooden ‘racquets’ on a half court painted on the street by the older guys. They took an interest in us younger kids. We were taught by them to box in backyard gyms and played football, cricket, etc. at the various schools that we Bondi Boys went to in those days. As my elder sister went to Bellevue Hill, I had to go there with her, walking up the hill each day. All my mates were at Bondi School.
The beach was a place to develop our surf courage on surfoplanes, hired at the beach. Great days were had riding waves from Ben Buckler at North Bondi on the big sea days, across the beach to the middle, hanging on to the handles of these rubber floats no matter what.
My dad was a terrific bodysurfer. Nicknamed Snowy, I still remember seeing his snowy head bobbing up and down way out the back as he patiently waited for the big one coming around the point to get him to the shore. He surfed with his hands outstretched and overlapping, with his head out of the water on his way back to the beach. It wasn’t long before I was mimicking his classy style.
Dad introduced me to rock fishing. He made his own cane rods and floats, which he also sold. He used to catch blackfish at the Murk, the old sewerage outlet below Bondi Golf Course. He went to the notorious Yellow Rock at Malabar and we climbed down ladders in the dark to get to the rocks to fish. It was dangerous and lives were lost there.
Dad also went miles out in the tinnies from the boat shed at North Bondi or fished at the Murk, which was no fun, bouncing around in that muck. A great attraction was when the men returned to the boat sheds with their catches, which they gutted and scaled on the rocks, and the guts drifted back into the water. Sharks were caught off the beach on baited hooks. These sharks were opened up on the boat ramp and spectators were amazed at what spilled out of their stomachs. Their jaws were removed and sold or souvenired.
Dad’s Matchless motorbike was our mode of transport in those days. A trip to the fights at the old stadium at Rushcutters Bay had me wearing my pyjamas under my clothes, as the bleachers in the stadium were little warmer than the bike trip there on a winter’s evening.
My best mate Jim and I worked together on Sundays on three paper runs, accumulating enough money to buy our Speedwell bikes for 27 pounds. We used to ride them to Randwick High School when we both went there.
The thrill of living where we did was that wheelbarrows were the way to race your mates from Wellington Street, downhill to Chambers Avenue, throwing caution to the wind. As we grew up they were replaced by Holden cars, racing down Campbell Parade and over to Nelsons Bay, stupidly risking all. Fortunately traffic was minimal. We still had a few rollovers but no one was killed, thank God.
As Dad loved a drink at the Astra Hotel, it was Mum who took Jim and I to the SCG where we sat in the Noble Stand and supported the Newtown Blues, as my relative Les Hampson was a prop in a great Blues side, with Australian captain Dick Poole also captain of the Blues. We saw all the legends play – Churchill, Gasnier, Langlands the Thornetts… Ken Thornett was my hero, he was a great fullback. We saw the battles against great English sides, the French sides and the great days of St George’s dominance.
They say, “You can take the boy out of Bondi, but you can’t take Bondi out of the Boy,” and I only have to run into one of the ‘old boys’ on my travels to bring back the memories we cherish, privileged to have grown up in Bondi. Remember that, Bondi Boys and Girls.
Alan Hampson (Big Al)


Pearls of Wisdom
Dear James – I understand much of what Pearl Bullivant has written in Pearls of Wisdom in the October 2021 edition of The Beast about big business, but I don’t agree with all of it. There is one particular reference to BUPA that I have difficulty with.
A loved one of mine is currently in care in an Eastern Suburbs BUPA facility. Contrary to Pearl’s musings, my family member receives outstanding care. Food is plentiful, nutritious and tasty. No resident suffers from malnutrition. Physiotherapy and other medical treatments are provided as part of the accommodation and treatment.
If anyone was to get scabies I am sure that it would be dealt with promptly and it is the same with other medical conditions. Prior to the time of COVID I was able to visit often, and also spoke at times with other residents, who all appeared to be happy and contented, and not due to being overly medicated. There was laughter, singing and even dancing during activities. The staff are always caring, professional and friendly.
I don’t know what experience that Pearl Bullivant has had with BUPA in the past, but my experiences have been very different to those expressed by her.
And no, I do not hold shares in BUPA or have any financial interest in the company.
Doug Richards