Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Maybe We'll Give Bondi Another Chance

We didn't love Bondi during our 2007 holiday to Australia.   We went there after Manly and I guess our hearts were already decided on which beach we preferred. I found Bondi to be too crowded, the changing bathrooms were gross, and the water was too wild.

Manly seemed more laid-back to me; unstylish and not that cool.

Bondi's people seem beautiful, fit, stylish, and cool. I'm so intimidated by all that.

Upon my cousin's urging, we returned to Bondi--gave it a second chance.  We still didn't like it, but I did collect a few good memories of the day.   Our old family friend Greg spent the day with us.   He's an American who was living in New Zealand for awhile. The two of us had a nice beach walk and chat. We talked about our love for Sydney.   I also coerced him into going into the wild cold water with me. That was fun. So Bondi wasn't all bad.

And I'm planning to give it yet another chance.   

Maybe learning more about it will give me a deeper appreciation.

So, here we go.....

First, I shall talk to Lord Wiki.

The name Bondi comes from an Aboriginal word meaning something like water breaking over rocks.

This is fairly interesting.   In 1851, Edward Hall Smith and his son-in-law Francis O'Brien purchased a bunch of beach land.  They called it the Bondi estate.   Then O'Brien bought out his father-in-law and renamed the estate after himself.    The O'Brien estate.   He kindly made the beach area public--offered it up to an amusement area.   Then he changed his mind when things became too popular.  He wanted to restrict access.  The government intervened and....well, I guess they bought the land and made it public.

I think it's interesting that O'Brien and Smith initially used an Aboriginal name for their estate. Was the name already there and known?   I mean how and why did they decide on using an Aboriginal Word.

I think the fact that Aboriginal words were used for places shows that there was at least a LITTLE respect for the Koori people.   I think if there was a total lack of respect, they'd disregard all Indigenous vocabulary and use British terms only.

On February 6 1938, huge waves hit the beach and five people drowned.This became known as Black Sunday.

According to the Bondi Beach website, Bondi lifeguards rescue an average of 2500 people per year.  Yikes.

In the Southern Part of Bondi beach, there is a rip tide nicknamed the backpackers express..  LordWiki says there are actually five of these rip tides, but the backpackers express is closest to the popular swimming areas.   We'll watch out for that one.

As for stuff to do.  I've heard that the Bondi to Bronte walk is a must. I want us to try that.

I'm reading now more about Edward Smith Hall.  He's a bit like Robert Wardall(who I wrote about in the Dulwich Hill post) in that he too worked for a newspaper and spoke out against Governor Darling.  Smith was an evangelical Christian and part of a charitable organization called the Benevolence Society.

Edward Hall Smith's daughter was Georgiana. She's the one who married O'Brien.   I wish we could know more about the women in these stories.

Now I'm exiting the world of history and learning more about the practical stuff.

The Bondi Suburbs are part of the Waverly council.  Their website says the Bondi to Bronte walk takes about 1.5 hours.   It's 3.5 km which equals about 2.20 miles.  I think we can manage that.   I mean I know I can manage that.  It's more about can Jack manage it. Or can WE manage Jack and his complaints of  Are we almost there? and I'm hungry!

Bondi Beach itself is one Kilometer.  I guess we can walk, and when we get hot, we can stick our feet in the water or something.  Maybe even swim when we end up between the flags.  I'm sorry, but I'm not swimming outside the flags.  I'm a chicken when it comes to this Bondi thing.

Okay, this makes me feel better.  It seems there are tons of little parks with playground on the walk. So, we'll just spend a long day of beach playing, walking, and playground climbing.   I think  that will be fun for all of us.

Well, maybe it's not as great as I thought.  As I look at this closer, I'm realizing not all the parks are near the beach and/or place we'll be walking.  That's okay.   I'm sure one or two playgrounds will be enough. I hope there are enough toilets and that the toilets are easy to find.

I'm looking at a map now--getting my bearings straight.   Bondi Beach is North and you walk south to get to Bronte.

While we're walking around Bondi, we can take Jack to the Mermaid Pool.  It's a children's pool.   I think I might remember seeing this.

The next major beach after Bondi Beach is Tamarama Bay.  Cute name.   The area had an aquarium and amusement park, but that all ended in 1911.  According to Lord Wiki, one of the reasons it closed was battles over animal cruelty. It's interesting to know that even back then some people cared about stuff like that.  Although maybe it's prejudice and naive of me to be surprised by it.

Well, I'm not sure I'm going to like this Tamarama Beach. According to Lord Wiki, it's known for it's glamourous people.   If that's not bad enough, it is also known as the most dangerous beach in New South Wales. 

I'm trying to figure out where this walk officially ends.  I guess if we had the energy and motivation, we could just keep on treking.  But I think we'll stop where most people stop.  Where is that?  I don't know.

 I think we should visit the cemetery.  

The other thing I'm trying to figure out is where the Koori rock carvings are located.  I know they're somewhere......

Actually, I have a book that has the info.  I will go look it up now.   Okay.  The book says there is a whale engraving on the clifftop walk between Bondi and Tamarama.   So, we'll look out for it. We won't spend too much time looking at it because I don't want to get all hot in the sun.Then we'll be dying for water and out of desperation, we'll rush to Tamarama Beach and drown in the most dangerous waters of New South Wales.  We really need to avoid that.


  1. Hi Dina, i think you are spot on with your perception of Bondi and Manly. I would rather go to Manly any day, much better beach and has a more coastal village atmosphere where Bondi is just ful of show ponies. Thanx of the history lesson too, very interesting, and i think you just have to look at the naming of the 2nd and 3rd settlements in Australia to realise that Aboriginal names were used very early. By the way they are Parramatta (para-mat-ta) and Toongabbie (toon-gab-ee)

  2. Our kids loved going to Bondi when we were in Sydney last....... because they are great fans of the Bondi Rescue show that's on the telly about the Bondi surf livesavers.

  3. Hey, I'm with you - not a fan of Bondi at all.

    Personally I think the best beaches in Sydney are at Cronulla. Cronulla beach is about a 45 minutes train trip south from the city if you want to visit (so about the same time as it takes to get to Manly, only in the other direction). It's made up of about 5 main beaches so you can pick and choose where to settle.

    I'm not sure how much spare time you will have but it'd be a nice little day trip. There are plenty of cafes, shops, big parks and kids play-sets etc at Cronulla too. It's the perfect spot for picnics too. Here's a link for more info:

    (I know you like this kind of information, so just as an aside - Cronulla was also the place of racially-motivated riots that took place in 2005. I was a life saver down there at the time, it was full on! Here's a link for more info:

  4. G'day, Dina! You write so much I can't keep up with you, so pardon me if you know these works; I saw you were looking for Australian history material in a previous post and I thought of Tom Keneally's Commonwealth of Thieves and the original journal of Watkin Tench.

    Have you seen the movies "Sunday Too Far Away" and "Wake in Fright"? I always think they're an excellent glimpse into the dark soul of these islands. "Wake in Fright" is from a book of the same title.

    There is an excellent series currently on the ABC called First Australians which is probably going to be available on DVD from the ABC shops.

    Do you get time to actually cover algebra, trigonometry and other such juicy stuff in your home-school curriculum? We're having great fun bashing each other about "outcome-based education" in this great State of W.A. OBE is typical New-Age there some kind of education that isn't meant to have an outcome? It's the old dumbing-down story. OBE types think the kids shouldn't be strained by having to actually know anything or remember any facts (odious things, facts).

  5. Matt: I think it's nice that they kept the Aboriginal names. You know, I think the world is divided into Manly and Bondi people. But I guess most of the world doesn't even know about Manly and Bondi, so they don't know which one they'd fall into.

    I think you're totally right about the coastal village atmosphere. I think that's a good way to describe Manly.

    Bettina: Maybe I should watch the show. Maybe then I'd love Bondi too ; )

    Anonymous: I've heard of Cronulla. We'll definitely keep it in mind. I've heard it's really nice. I'll go read about the riots. I THINK I've heard of them, but I'm not 100% sure. I mean I might be thinking of different riots.

    Retaruius: I definitely want to read Commonwealth of Thieves! It's one of the things I'm searching for. They had it at Powells, but it was fairly expensive. I'm going to see if I can get it at a better price. I know that talks about the whole whale feast and the spearing of Arthur Phillip.

    I probably would have bought the book if they hadn't had The Fatal Shore. I guess I figured I had that treasure and didn't need to splurge on another.

    I also bought the book "Walkabout". I think that's the same as "Wake in Fright." What came first--the book or movie? I did see the first five minutes or so of the movie on YouTube.

    About education. I don't think I'll be teaching Jack higher math because I didn't get too high myself. I'll probably farm him out to someone else for that. I never got past Algebra II. Who knows? Maybe he'll teach himself and then teach me. We'll probably just have him take a class somewhere or find a tutor.

    About education. I actually got my Masters Degree at an education college that pushed the idea of progressive education. And when I say pushed, I mean PUSHED.

    Progressive education MIGHT be the same as your OBE thing. ???? In progressive education, there is less emphasis on memorization, tests, grades, and facts.

    Instead they concentrate on doing projects and learning the meaning behind something.

    They don't want children to simply memorize that 3*4 is 12. They want them to understand why it's 12 and what that looks like.

    There's more emphasis on using manipulatives in math than doing worksheets. So, instead of sitting at a desk and writing on a piece of paper...7*4=28, they would sit at a table with little colored stones and make seven groups of 4.

    The school I went to was against phonics. They were also against textbooks.

    They believed children should read regular books. So if a highschool student was taking a course in Australian history, instead of using a textbook called "Australia History" they'd use a variety of books--such as Commonwealth of Thieves, The Fatal Shore, Blue Latitudes, etc.

    I think people who don't know a lot about progressive education think that it's dumbing down. But I actually think it's much harder than traditional education.

    I was student teaching in a first grade classroom. They gave me some math worksheets to grade. I thought oh, this will be easy! I figured I'd get some simple addition. Instead, it was actually HARD. It had nothing to do with memorization, but all about problem solving. I actually had to use my brain to grade it.

    Another thing about progressive education is....I forgot the term. But the idea is that subjects shouldn't be separate. So instead of having math time, science time, history time, literature time.....they believe that the class should do an in depth study of a particular topic. Let's say they do a three month study on Australia. While learning about Australia, the teacher would incorporate the different subjects. They might do graphs and timelines for math. They might study Australian plants and wildlife for science. Lots of social studies there.....

    I MUCH prefer progressive education to traditional. My only problem with it--or at least my graduate school-was their idea that it worked for ALL children.

    I'm totally against that idea. I think each child has their own strengths. I think it's unfair to put a child in a school where there are NO tests and only group projects. Some kids do better on tests. I learned to read using the whole language/whole word method, but some kids learn better with phonics.

    Some kids (like my own son) LOVE to memorize things and have amazing skills with it. I think it's unfair to completely downplay the strength and importance of these skills.

    I think it's sad if a school forces children to memorize facts, but they don't really care if the children truly understand the facts.

    But I also think it's sad if a child is GOOD at memorizing and the school says it's not important to memorize.

    I don't think there's any one perfect way of educating a child. I think each child is different and what may work for them may not work for another child.

  6. Hmm, "Walkabout" is a different thing altogether from "Wake in Fright". Regardez La Wikipedia: and

    Well, you'd make a good combatant in our current dispute on OBE! from your description, I think it is"progressive education" by another name. The real problem is that it seems to be a good idea in an ideal environment; an environment that rarely exists, particularly in the public schools where it's being experimented with first. If you search for OBE on Australian sites about education you'll see what's up.

    That yarn I told on my site about the lab fire is 100% genuine. That's exactly how it happened. A perfect example of how teaching tasks can be buck-passed to staff members who really aren't up to it. Still, it's given me a good anecdote for all that. (Elective 666: "Science as an introduction to creative writing.")

  7. Retarius,

    Crap. You're totally right. It's a different book. When I picked it up, I assumed it was the same as Wake in Fright. "Walkabout" is an alternate title for "Wake in Fright". Maybe for American audiences????

    So when I saw the title of the book was "Walkabout" I thought it was the same thing. But it's something different. It does look good though.

    As for education, I think there should be a middle ground--a mix of traditional and progressive. I'm definitely not a fan of traditional, but I think progressive can get too radical. It can get too dogmatic.

    If you talk about the evils of phonics, than you're going to have some kids never learning to read because some kids NEED to learn with phonics.

    As for an ideal that doesn't exist, I found this with my school's idea that praise should never be given.

    The idea is that children become too dependent on praise and don't develop their own sense of self-worth.

    So we weren't supposed to say things like "I love your picture!" or "I like the bear you drew."

    Instead we were supposed to just describe what they were doing. "You're using a lot of red." "You are making a lot of circles."

    It was very process over product. BUT in the real world, people are going to be judged for their work. I think it would be better to teach children the idea that their work will be liked by some and not by others.

    We are NOT creating in a vacuum.

    I guess what I'm saying is that I see merit in some of the ideas in progressive education, but I don't think it's perfect. I think there are some flaws. I think traditional education has flaws too. So, best to combine the best of both instead of being dogmatic and choosing one idea completely over the other.

  8. No praise for the kids eh? That's sounds like a educrat's idea alright!
    It reminds me of a story I heard about the boyhood of George Bush Senior; he came home full of excitement because he'd scored a home run in a baseball game and his mother sternly pulled him up: "How did the team do? I felt pity when I read that. I know it's not ideal "developmental training" but I think a child can be allowed a little selfish praise-seeking. They'll get all the putting-down anyone needs from people other than teachers or parents.

  9. Retarius,

    Wow. Sad story. I totally agree with you. I can imagine if you had a child who constantly brags and only thinks of himself--maybe you praise them and then bring up the team. "Good on you! That's awesome. So how did the rest of the team do?"

    But some people are so stingy with their praise.

    Sometimes, I think it's like a weird annoying cycle. I think some people praise themselves so much (always tooting their own horn) so you don't want to praise them. It's like their head is swelled enough. But maybe they praise themselves because no one else does it.

    BTW, here's the article by Alfie Kohn which goes into the whole anti-praise thing.

    It's funny because when I first read his eyes, they seemed so amazing.

    Now I think most of it's bullshit--especially the part about manipulating children. Yes, praise DOES manipulate children. Part of being a parent is helping them to adopt behaviors that you value. I praise Jack for reading books. I WANT him to be a reader. I praise him for making comic books. I want him to be creative.

    I do not praise him for running down the stairs. I don't want him to fall and break his leg.