Some Bondi Poetry

In 2005, Adam Gibson, writer and Bondi boy, published a book of his poems titled, bondi: poems by adam gibson.

Three of Adam’s poems are reproduced here (with Adam’s kind permission).

You can find out more about Adam and his work from his website,  Blinding Sunlight.

The last milkbar

The last milkbar has closed its doors,
no milkshakes available here anymore.
No Bates’, no Marg’s, no Bill’s, no Valis’s
no more.

The Hamilton Beach machines have been
switched off,
unplugged and decommissioned.
The silver vats of ice cream have been emptied,
rinsed out and demolished.
The shooting galleries of flavours
have shot through.
The wooden booths have been hammered down
and the lino pulled up.
They’ve run a hand along the lolly counter
and swept hundred & thousands of histories away.

A handful of coins will now buy nothing,
a handful of coins will produce only dust.

When the past has been thrown into a Skip bin,
and the future has been redeveloped,
we are left with an eternal nothing:
a suburb without memory
and nothing to remember.

The simple fact:
We sleep and we wake in a suburb
In which it is impossible
to buy a milkshake.

From: bondi: poems by adam Gibson (2005)

What do they know of Bondi?

What do they know of Bondi?
only Bondi knows

we have seen the bulldozers come and go
seen them push sand back down
the beach after storms
seen them push concrete up in buckling improvement schemes
seen the nor ‘eatsers come and blow
we who whisper into schooners about the
way salt rusted into the walls of The Ruins
about late night lamingtons at the Flying Pieman
about late night raids to the nirvana bottlo
(when there wasn’t the threat of being assaulted)
about loud nights up in the Rasa
about early mornings in the beach club
or the Orchades
or North Bondi Surf Club or the Sandbar.

we who hide in the brick veneer valley
afraid of the traffic backing up
down on the beachfront
afraid of the diners crowding into the
viciously Bondi cafes
furtively doing banking in Hall St
bumping into stools outside Gusto
tripping over unleashed dogs with bandannas
around their necks
wanting to buy a thickshake from Bates
but that’s gone now too
looking for a familiar face
perhaps an old girlfriend
a mate from school
a girl from the surf club

I care not for bitterness
I care not for the snarling remembrance
of better times
I only care for the realm of real Bondi
that I know and I don’t apologise for
but you to be open you have to hold the last laugh
in knowing that everything
the new colonialists are buying into
is something that
among friends
we already owned

what do they know of Bondi
only Bondi knows

before John McGrath got a look-in
before Lend Lease arrived
before the Packers annexed the headland
before the surf clubs were sponsored
before the cult of the café
before the actors bought up

before the Regis attracted such stylish clientele
before the Icebergs became a backdrop
for photo shoots…

it’s not that we’re looking backward
with the easy like of time
it’s just that I’m desolate
with the feeling that someone’s nicked
something of mine
up in the backblocks of scum Valley
no kids play in driveways anymore
the DINKS have replaced the dinkys
the brokers have replaced the billycarts
the ghosts of screams past fade
with each new renovation

we are living in the new Paddington
when the nightclub with strict door policy?
how long will Bates Milk Bar last?
(oh, gone)
how long witll BBs Wine Bar last?
Chapel By The Sea?
get rid of it,
slip in a casino
knock up some flats sort out that carpark

what do they know of Bondi
only Bondi knows…

my Grandma couldn’t understand
people paying for breakfast

I’m too seedy to ever do so
so I can’t understand it either

I’m over the myth of this
I’m over Bondi becoming Byron
now that the market smells the same

I offer no apologies if this sticks in the throat
rather I look forward to everything moving onward
and if I need to move out

then I’ll go out blazing
not meekly packing up
and moving to Kingsford or Scott’s Head

but shouting at the gym-buffed boys
and the chop-haired girls
that they can keep their Sydney Confidentials
that they can keep their lingering lunches with decorative salads
and their malibus in loungerooms
and diligent shopping trips up Oxford St
and cool print shirts
and slumming it experiences in RSL clubs

the new lad thing
the tough girl thing
the anti-oz rock thing
the accepting bongo drum thing
eagerly deriding ‘Khe Sahn’

among friends
some gone long ago
faded into the mist of Valis’s or Guido’s
or locked up in long Bay
now or dead
or trying to get that next break
get off the “rock ‘n roll”
get off the “John Howard surf team”

but as long as there’s some dope around
and as long as there’s waves
and as long as there’s beer and chicks
they’ll post[pone TAFE
and go into their 30s
and good on ‘em

among friends

the desert of the beachfront at night
of revving cars and broken bottles
of chewing gum trapped in the neo footpath
of the wide bouncers of the Bondi Hotel
where we grew up and threw up

among friends
we can do what we want
for what do they know of Bondi?

only Bondi knows

From: bondi: poems by adam Gibson (2005)

I don’t go out in Bondi anymore

I don’t go out in Bondi anymore,
I’m inclined to stay in.

The new starts in the bars of the night
slouch against tiled walls and
beer tray slops and
the beer-group pressure leans
on a sore throat
and rattles with machismo and femismo and

looks are hooked into eyes
hooked into other looks

And tables are full of dollars
and pockets full of cents
and pool tables with dollar coins
and the effort of dressing
with the indemnity of effort.

I don’t go out in Bondi anymore,
I’m inclined to stay in.

I don’t go out anymore
I’m inclined to stay in.

From: bondi: poems by adam Gibson (2005)


  1. Niki says:

    Fantastic poetry, I have seen Adam doing spoken word, amazing. I live next door to his mum 🙂

  2. Ben buckler bower bird says:

    Guys none of you mention Fannys kitchen

    This will test your local knowledge as it created a issue due to name

    I too was on cb radio playing the mothers at Hugh banford

    • bondimermaid says:

      Hi Ben Buckler Bower Bird,
      Thanks for your comments.
      Fanny’s Kitchen?
      I have to confess that I don’t recall that name . Maybe it was before my time?
      I’m interested to know more about this.

      So another CBer finds this blog! but not sure what you mean by “playing the mothers” at Hugh Bamford. Can you please elaborate on this?
      bondimermaid 🙂

      • Ben buckler bower bird says:

        It was on the corner of warners ave about 76 -78 adjoining the mixed business and and laundry mat.
        Fanny back on those days was still perceived as crude’

        The mothers were a cb club on 27 megs that were few large guys and cars there was a group called the mental dv8s which was also on 27megs am

        Football was played up at high Bamford oval in challenges, It was friendly times

        • bondimermaid says:

          I can’t recall the “the mothers” nor “the mental dv8s” CB clubs, but thank you for sharing this Ben Buckler Bower Bird. I just love how there were so many people on CB radio in this area in those days. It was clearly quite a happening thang! and as you say “friendly times” 🙂

  3. Ben buckler bower bird says:

    Sorry name wrong it was wairoa ave

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