This past week, we visited Bondi Junction. The suburb is a train ride away from the city centre. The journey takes about fifteen minutes. The transport interchange is the gateway to iconic Bondi Beach, which is a further bus ride. Over the years, I’ve visited Bondi a bit. My friends and I watched movies here. We window-shopped and bought clothes. We sampled cuisines at the food court. Westfield (WF) Bondi is one of the larger malls in Sydney metro, occupying parts of two blocks. The centre is a high-end destination. Apart from the WF, the suburb also boasts a second mall: Eastgate Bondi Junction. Not to be outdone, the smaller mall has a full-service Coles, an ALDI, a Kmart, and The Reject Shop. A bevy of smaller shops and eateries line the streets of Bondi. Oxford Street, which runs through the suburb, is the main thoroughfare. The area is likewise home to the Sydney Roosters. The Chooks are a marquee team in the NRL (National Rugby League).
Steeped in history
Initially, WF Bondi had two food courts: a posh one on level 5 and a more budget-friendly version, the so-called terrace food court. The latter has been turned into an H&M, which opened in August 2016. The mall has 331 retailers and eight anchor tenants. The centre has both Myer and David Jones (DJ), annexed in 2004. Myer was originally Grace Bros. and opened in 1934. Meanwhile, DJ opened in 1976 and was part of the erstwhile Bondi Junction Plaza.
On our trip this past week, I bought two items from DJ: a multi-coloured LS tee and a cotton linen t-shirt. The latter represents the first linen item in my wardrobe. I also bought a CD and a Sean Penn DVD from one of the independent stores outside. Over the years, I’ve gotten a European sweater and a cream shirt from H&M. As mentioned before, I purchased some branded olive chino shorts and a Superdry tee. Another time, I recall browsing with my pal at Zara. I bought a colour block woollen jumper from Country Road. We’ve also snapped up some bargains at Myer.
Bits and bobs
The mall also boasts both Coles and Woolworths. The two are the largest supermarket chains in the country. Both brands were added as part of a massive expansion from 2003-2004. Apart from the pair, the Myer was redeveloped. Other new additions included: Target, Harvey Norman, JB Hi-Fi, Rebel Sport, Greater Union (since rebranded as Event Cinemas) and 458 other retailers. In September 2012, Spanish giant Zara joined in. They utilised the area that Borders vacated. September of last year, Japanese multinational, Uniqlo, unveiled their 24th Aussie wonderland in the mall.
WF Bondi Junction has a surface area of 131,259 square metres. The centre was originally in the area occupied by three malls, with the oldest being Grace Brothers (1934). There is no doubt that Bondi is the foremost shopping destination in Sydney’s eastern suburbs. Some of the films we’ve seen here include Walter Mitty, Parasite, Last Jedi, Black Panther, and Deadpool 2. The last three we watched in Gold Class (GC), which is their premium cinematic experience. My friend was mighty impressed with their GC after his initial visit. There is a wide variety at the WF and there’s something for everyone. Fast fashion has H&M and Cotton On. There are midsized retailers like Just Jeans, Hype DC and Country Road. They also house top-end names like Oroton, Saba, Rodd and Gunn, and Windsor Smith.
The WF has two bookstores for bibliophiles. The centre also has two news agents. There are also a few restaurants on the upper level, including a sushi train and Bondi Pizza. WF Bondi also has a few bakeries, seafood, and fruit shops. There are two optical stores and even a dentist. There are three bank branches: Westpac, Nab, and St George. Moreover, there are quite a few sports stores for the active human. Nike, Champion, Lululemon, Lorna Jane, Footlocker, and The North Face are just some of them. They likewise have shoe repair and key cutting services. Apart from the mobile providers, they also house phone repair kiosks.
The WF presence alone bolts Bondi to the top of the table. But wait, there’s more. Eastgate Bondi Junction is the second banana. The centre is relatively small at 15,491 square metres. The train station is a short walk away. Eastgate opened shop in 1983 underneath the Eastgate apartments. The mall included a Kmart, Coles, and a Harris Farm below the Kmart. It was built after the three centres which merged into the WF. Eastgate underwent a revamp in March of 2013, which saw the renovation of the mezzanine level. The new floor added ALDI among others. The Reject Shop, Just Cuts, etc. were likewise refurbished.
In 2018, Harris Farms relocated from the lower basement to the ground floor. In July 2019, Eastgate experienced a makeover that included a new façade. The works were completed come November of that year. The new and improved Coles has been regarded as the ‘poshest’ in the country. Last year, I remember going to Specsavers to get some sunnies. They are on the mezzanine level. Afterwards, we saw Parasite at the WF cinemas. The film would go on to win four Oscars, including Best Picture. This gave the director the rare distinction of bagging four statuettes in one night. For more on this movie, peek my post ‘Parasite (2019) reviewed’.
An embarrassment of options
Bondi has come a long way from the Grace Bros. of 1934. The first food court wouldn’t arrive until the 70s, and the second mall would only materialise in 1970. The train stop wouldn’t make it to Bondi until 1979. As late as ’94, WF didn’t even own a stake in the area, with AMP being the main player until then. The Westfield as it stands today wasn’t realised until 2004. Over the years, there have been a few upgrades, including well-known newcomers. There were likewise some departures, whether of a small, medium or larger scope. For instance, they used to have a Jeanswest. Topshop entered the dragon in March of 2016 but would wave goodbye only three years later.
In light of the pandemic, a few retailers went kaput. In spite of these lemons, this Westfield is doing far better than its Eastgardens counterpart. This could be attributed to the accessibility of the centre as well as all the other options beyond WF. The continued improvement of Eastgate doesn’t hurt, either. Lest I forget, the pedestrian mall through Oxford Street features all sorts of cuisines and finds for the curious cat. Meanwhile, if you’re looking for something, give Bondi a try. The area ticks a lot of boxes, as outlined prior. As a traveller passing through, you’d be spoiled for choice. You just have to know where to look.