'Perfect' Bondi Beach Photo Shows Fine Art Of Social Distancing In Australia

The 'towel's length' rule is good. But is it enough?

'Perfect' Bondi Beach Photo Shows Fine Art Of Social Distancing In Australia

Tanned skin, heroic lifeguards, espresso bars, bikini photoshoots, F45, Peronis; Bondi is everything an over-eager English backpacker could hope to find in Australia.

But it’s more than the stereotypes, however, with a photo by lensman Sammy Blanchard showing Bondi beachgoers don’t always display the entitled attitude the suburb is crudely known for.

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Though Eastern Suburbs residents have been chided for their laissez faire approach to the world’s woes this year, it seems we have turned a corner, with the following photo, taken on Monday, demonstrating a hypnotic kind of social distancing that wouldn’t look out of place in a beehive.

“Looks like a print on carpeting,” one Instagram user wrote.


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Too many people? Yes. Too close? Judging by NSW’s ‘a towel’s length‘ guideline (and Mr. Blanchard’s exclusive comments to DMARGE), in most cases, no.

“Big crowds at Bondi over the weekend,” Mr. Blanchard captioned the photo. “You’d think corona didn’t exist anymore!”

Comments beneath the post remarked (some ironically, some not) on the proximity of the sun seekers.

“Great shot!! Social distancing at it’s best.”

Speaking to DMARGE, Mr. Blanchard said he believes various media outlets have been using photographic tricks to exaggerate how close people are at the beach.

However, he also believes “it’s needed.”

“We do need to be reminded that there still is a global pandemic and just because it’s a public holiday and 30 degrees doesn’t make you immune.”

Mr. Blanchard told DMARGE, “From what I saw, I think people were well behaved. There were a lot of people on the beach but the beach is 1 km wide! With lots of space comes lots of people.”

Mr. Blanchard said most people were following the towel length rule, too.

In any case, things got heated on the weekend with Waverly council on Monday warning people to stay away from Bondi beach as the sand neared capacity.

Underneath a 10 News First Tweet, a similar story played out, with various users remarking some version of, “Looks well spaced out.”


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This forms part of a broader debate around the benefits of shaming Those Enjoying 2020 (which, the logic goes, will encourage people to distance more seriously) as well as the disadvantages (if it is reported on with optic tricks and hysterical language, people may disregard the crucial messages underneath).

It also exposes why it makes little sense to refer to ‘the media’ as one singular beast.

Though this ‘pushing together of punters’ is a phenomenon seen on front pages all around the world (media analyst Thomas Baekdal pointed the same thing out in Copenhagen in April), it is particularly pronounced in Australia – particularly Sydney – where various publications play off the so-called ‘latte line.’

Mr. Blancahrd told DMARGE this “absolutely” happens to Bondi.

“In true tall poppy style Aussies love to bring Bondi (and the East) down a few pegs. But then they flock down here when there’s good swell or good tanning conditions.”

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With summer fast approaching, Sydney councils are continuing to discuss and refine measures to keep beaches safe, including limiting parking and a host of other potential rules.

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