TO MOST who come across the seas, the name Bondi means one thing: the famous beach that has become a romanticised icon of a perceived Australian love of the sun, sand and surf. And in all fairness, many Australians are like that; surfing and beach goers are their own subculture; but all Sydneysiders do, at least on occasion, regardless of cultural background, take time to appreciate the natural beauty that lies within their own hometown.
But say ‘Bondi’ to a Sydneysider and most would point you in the direction not of Bondi Beach, but Bondi Junction. Okay, it may have a few brand names in the Westfield shopping mall that occasionally attract the touristy crowd, but the junction is mostly a congregation of students on lunch break from the nearby colleges and universities, the occasional tycoon (as a commercial hub among the wealthiest and most expensive suburbs in Sydney) and an ethnic enclave of the city’s Jewish community. Even locals rarely get a glimpse of this: jump off the train at Bondi Junction station and the underground concourse exits directly to an undercover bus terminal to connect elsewhere, without a single peek of the suburb outside.
But even so, stepping out into the street leads you directly into the Westfield – and the world outside is another on its own. Oxford Street Mall has absolutely none of the glamour and opulence one feels entering Westfield’s atria. Most institutions here are holes in the wall – even a bargain basement finds its way here, next to a trendy cafe. But in Sydney, being different is a type of glamour on its own.