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Coalition to Protect Public Properties and Crown Land Trust

Bondi Surf Pavilion

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Ministers reason to exclude the Bondi Pavilion from the NHL and facts that prove otherwise.

 

Summary Statement of Significance:

 

  1. Bondi Surf Pavilion, dating from the 1920’s, has a strong association with Australian beach culture.  It was built in a form that reflects aspects of Inter-War Mediterranean and Georgian Revival architectural styles, was the largest surf pavilion built in Sydney, and at a time when beach recreation was increasing following earlier decades of legislative restrictions on sea bathing.  It provided facilities for beach-going but was also an entertainment venue.

In the last sentence of the first paragraph it places the facilities the Pavilion offers to beach-goers and entertainment venue in the past tense, this is not true, currently the Bondi Pavilion still provides facilities for beach-goers and is still used as an entertainment venue.

 

  1. The Pavilion represents a part of the culture of beach bathing which has dominated the popular image, past and present, of the Australian outdoor lifestyle.  It has very strong social and cultural importance to a large number of Sydney residents.

It has a strong social and cultural importance to all of NSW; if this weren’t so then major events that are promoted to attract the broader community would not vie to stage their concerts at the Bondi Pavilion, nor would the Olympic Co-ordination Authority offer rewards (although insignificant) to Waverley Council to occupy the historic building.

 

  1. However, many of the characteristics of the Pavilion’s early use as a key surf-pavilion or beach-going facility, for example, the dressing sheds, locker rooms, bathing suit hire and laundry, have now gone.  The change in function to a community centre and community arts centre moves the former bathing facility further from its origins.

The dressing sheds, locker rooms, bathing suit hire and laundry may be gone, some only recently removed to make room for privatisation, this does not vindicate statements that with these facilities removed and that the building has changed its function to a community centre and community arts centre it is no longer of great historical interest, nor does it detract that the Bondi Pavilion is still of State and even National Interest.

 

For example, The Sydney Mint opened in 1855 no longer is used as a government entity coining colonial currency, the coin milling equipment have since been removed and offices built in its place, but the building (formerly part of the rum hospital) is still of State significance and is listed with the NHL.

 

Cadman’s Cottage, built sometime in 1815-16 as the ‘Coxswain’s Barracks’ was attached to Governor Macquarie’s dockyard and stores on the shores of Sydney Cove and later adopted John Cadman’s surname, Cadman took up residence there in 1827, the cottage became part of the water police and lock-up in 1845 after Cadman retired, the water police vacated the building in1864 and then from 1865 – 1970  it became the Sydney Sailors’ Home Trust, the cottage is no longer used and is now virtually denuded of its furnishings but still it is of State significance, age has nothing to do with the significance each building holds, it is the interest accumulated over the years and the history one learns from such treasures of the past that places each structure regardless of age into the same heritage bracket of State and even national importance.

 

  1. The apparent, strong, social and cultural importance the Pavilion may have to the wider Australian community that is required for the establishment of the place’s outstanding heritage value to the nation, has not been proven by the available evidence.

Evidence does exist and has been publicly accessible for many years; this paragraph does not have any credence to fact but a biased approach to not having the Bondi Surf Pavilion included on the NHL.

 

Evidence does state that the Bondi Surf Pavilion is of “outstanding heritage value to the nation”, evidence that is explained in detail in the personal heritage report, the briefing accompanying the report and other documents.

 

  1. Therefore, it is considered that the Pavilion does not have outstanding heritage values to the nation.

The evidence stated within the report and other documents show otherwise.

 

In the second paragraph of Description, page 2, lines 5, 6 and 7 says:

 

  1. Much of the evidence of earlier uses and beach culture (eg dressing sheds, locker rooms, bathing suit hire facilities, laundry, and other features such as the Turkish Baths), have gone.

Compared to other historic assets in New South Wales such as Cadman’s Cottage and the Sydney Mint; the removal of certain facilities did not detract the social, cultural and state significance or even national significance of the buildings.

 

In the fifth paragraph of History, (first paragraph on page 3) it says:

 

  1. By 1959 the pavilion was unlicensed and the building was declining.  By the 1960s one third of the men’s changing area was closed and the auditorium was rarely used.  By the early 1970s the pavilion was seen by the media as a great white elephant.  It was at this time that a reprieve and a new direction arrived, with the Bondi Theatre Group gaining approval to convert the ballroom into a theatre.  The theatre was opened by Prime Minister Gough Whitlam in 1975.  The pavilion now became the centre of Waverley’s cultural program in 1977.  This saw the demolition of the change rooms, lockers, the former Turkish baths, and the courtyard was replaced by a grassed amphitheatre, netball court, craft workshops, art gallery, child care centre, gymnasia and a restaurant, and the building was licensed again.  The Bondi Pavilion Community Centre was opened by NSW Premier Neville Wran in 1978.  In 1980 Council sponsored a mural in the courtyard, and in 1987 a new forecourt was constructed.  Substantial repairs were carried out in the mid 1990s and in the late 1990s the pavilion was the centre for various community and cultural events.

This is true and the delicate conversion did rejuvenate interest into a valued beach-front asset and a credit to the members of Waverley Council at the time, the demolition, alterations and additions did not injure the heritage fabric of the building, nor did it become a hurdle to have the Bondi Beach Pavilion entered into the register of the National Trust in 1977 nor did it inhibit its entry into the Register of the National Estate (28th September 1982). The new use of the Bondi Pavilion made it recognisable to the broader stream public sector and eventually given its place as a famous landmark, which it was and which it is and which it should always be for future generations to use, enjoy and learn of its history as a famous Australian landmark that was lauded, forgotten and then resuming its place in history, a story worth telling.

 

If the destructive over-development and privatisation continues, the living history of the Bondi Surf Pavilion will be relegated to the yellowing pages of history books, fading photographs and stories told to children by their parents and grand-parents.

 

Recent discussions at Waverley Council to retain only the fašade of the historic structure would be an insult to the Bondi Surf Pavilion, to reduce it to a skeleton or even a partial skeleton makes not a building but a stark, sad reminder of what was and not what is, an excuse to kill a grand old lady of Bondi, 4 years older than the Harbour Bridge and 45 years older than the Opera House.

 

The Pavilion’s past is important because its past was unique to how beach-goers were treated. Its individual collective identity was, and still is unique to the State.

 

Its incredible urban presence is another reason why further protection to its existence is paramount.

 

Almost every new building looks the same today; there is no longer a competitor’s touch to design individuality. Architects are no longer rebellious with designs that are reflective with a unique appearance in an otherwise common backdrop, a major component with retaining individuality as it was when architects Robertson and Marks put pencil to paper in the mid 1920’s.

 

Buildings no longer remain historic unless they have retained the historic heritage of their past. It is the uniqueness of the historic buildings that make each place individual; the Bondi Surf Pavilion is no exception.

 

It is the uniqueness of this historic building that cements its place in history and within local, State and national heritage; The Pavilion gave Bondi Beach a sense of place where other beaches around Australia in the early part of the 20th century were still bare of public service and wanting of uniqueness, even today such a majestic architectural design of this magnitude on the forefront of a beach is unheard of, thus making the Bondi Surf Pavilion a national icon of architectural  importance, also the Bondi Surf Pavilion has considerable architectural merit by the quality of its architecture, materials, and craftsmanship, a probable reason why it is still listed with the Royal Australian Institute of Architects on the List of Twentieth Century Buildings.

 

We shouldn’t allow operating costs of the Bondi Surf Pavilion be used as an excuse to privatise a landmark that has proved itself a valuable public asset of State and national importance.

 

Robert Farquharson

 

 

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Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.pdf

Photo montage of pavilion.pdf

Report.pdf

Local Environmental Plan 1996.pdf

Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999: An overview of the first two years

Heritage and Development - A Lawyers Perspective

Section 324j of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.pdf

Australian National Heritage Charter.pdf

The role of the Heritage Council of NSW.pdf

A Guide to the Heritage System.pdf

Conservation Brief Burra Charter.pdf

Protecting Local Heritage Places.pdf

The Burra Charter.pdf

Submission to the Productivity Commission Inquiry into the Conservation of Australia's Historic houses.pdf

Assessing Heritage Significance.pdf