Bondi Beach Photo From 1900 Proves Why We Shouldn't Romanticise The Past

Nostalgia can be deceiving.

From surfers dancing on double glazed longboards to TikTok stars lip-syncing Nirvana, many can be accused in our society of loving an era they were never part of.

In most cases, there’s nothing wrong with that, other than it sometimes being ~cringe~.

However, as a photo shared on Instagram five days ago by the North Bondi RSL club recently – in our view – showed, romanticising the past can be a flawed pursuit.

The restaurant shared the following image with its 1,802 followers, with the following caption: “Bondi Beach, around 1900.”

The original source of the image is the Powerhouse Museum.

The 1900s in Bondi was an interesting time. According to, it wasn’t until February 1907 that a group of surfers formed the Bondi Surf Bathers’ Lifesaving Club – the first lifesaving club in the world.

“Soon after the lifesavers’ club was founded, the law was changed so surf bathing in the daytime was allowed in Sydney. Until this time it was illegal to surf between 6 am and 8 pm.”

Jumping on back to the North Bondi RSL club photo from 1900, this makes some of the comments rolling in look, in our view, a little silly.

The comments ranged from complimentary (“incredible shot”) to witty (“Nothing has changed….no social distancing”).

Another nostalgic soul wrote: “Much better than it is now.” Something very difficult to agree with unless you hate swimming.

Also: many of the things that make Bondi ~Bondi~ are nowhere to be seen in the picture.

No Mexican restaurants, no post-surf Woolies, no activewear. No $20 million apartments.

Worse: no outdoor exercise area.

RELATED: ‘Most Bondi Photo Ever’ Sums Up Australian Cafe Culture In 2021

Just a surreal natural backdrop. So much for Scum Valley.


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A post shared by MORNING BONDI (@morningbondi)

As photographer Amaury Tréguer once wrote: “I love Bondi for a lot of things including all the randomness that you can witness.”

“This morning started with what I thought initially a photo shoot, but it actually wasn’t, it was the filming of a beautiful rap music video with the lady singing along the music pumping from the speakers. The rest was pretty usual and the surf pumping.”

Amaury isn’t the only photographer to cotton onto Bondi’s unique lifestyle. The Instagram account Only In Bondi has posted some classics too.


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A post shared by onlyinbondi (@onlyinbondi)

So yeah: the past isn’t always better just because it’s gone. Put that in your $6 long black and sip on it.

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