Physical Culture and the Making and Preservation of Bondi Beach

Bondi, arguably Australia’s best known surf beach, raises questions about the relationships between physical cultures and the natural and built environments. In this paper I explore these relationships through an historical analysis of swimming, surfbathing, surf lifesaving, and surfing, and their contributions to the making and preservation of Bondi Beach. The physical cultures that formed at Bondi in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries were based largely on engagement with sea, surf, and sand. The subsequent provision of facilities and structures, such as ocean baths, public changing rooms, and clubhouses for surf lifesavers, contributed to a local built environment. Today, the Bondi Pavilion, the Bondi and North Bondi surf lifesaving clubhouses, and the Bondi Baths are as emblematic of Bondi Beach as its most prominent natural features – expansive horizons, headlands, golden sand, and waves. However, the now iconic built structures contain a paradox. While they are the creations for physical cultures that engage with, and claim an affinity to, nature, they simultaneously disrupt Bondi’s natural contours, colours, textures, forms, and geomorphological processes.


Journal article

Geographic Coverage


Journal citation

The International Journal of the History of Sport Volume 36, Issue 6, Pages 570 – 591


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Abstract included in PLA’s Research Connections article in Parks and Leisure Australia Vol 22.3 Spring 2019


Due to copyright restrictions, only the abstract is available


Booth , Douglas (Author)


Taylor and Francis online: 2019