The Bondi Pavilion started life as the Bondi Municipal Surf Sheds, a series of 1,000 dressing sheds dedicated to the “clean and healthful pastime of surf bathing”. Work on the current Pavilion started in 1928, opening the following year with dining rooms, cabaret, ballroom and the Turkish and Hot Sea Water Baths (which flopped, closing in 1932 with the North Bondi Surf Life Saving Club taking over the space).
For the next few years many businesses came and went before the building was accidentally damaged in military explosions during WWII: in the hopes of preventing Japanese invasion, the underground passages leading to the beach were blasted closed, using more explosives than were required – the blast damaged the Pavilion, the surf club and took out windows all along Campbell Parade.
The building was repaired and held dances through the ’40s, but the glory days were over: by the ’70s the place was barely used, with Councillor David Taylor telling the Sun-Herald in 1975, “I’d like to put a bomb under the Bondi Pavilion and a new start made on a casino.”
Thankfully neither happened: the Bondi Theatre Group converted the former Palm Court Ballroom into a theatre in 1974, starting the venue’s new life as an arts centre, despite a community-defeated attempt by the council to sell the place to commercial concerns in the late ’80s. The building is now safe on the NSW heritage register and is currently an arts and cultural centre, home to the Tamarama Rock Surfers theatre group, a rehearsal and recording studio, and the Bondi Pavilion Gallery.
For more information on the Bondi Beach area, see Bondi Beach.
|Venue name:||Bondi Pavilion||Contact:|
Queen Elizabeth Dr
|Opening hours:||Office hours: Mon-Fri 9.30am-5.30pm; Sat-Sun 10am-5pm Gallery hours: Daily 10am-5pm|
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