Scum Valley

Bondi of the late 60s, 70s and even the 80s was not the prime yuppie real estate haven that it is today. All of the beach going locals of the day nicknamed the place “Scum Valley”, on account of the two storm water drain pipes that emptied onto the beach at South Bondi, just below where the skate park now stands.

Storm water drains at South Bondi, ca. 1960. Photo courtesy of Waverley Library.

Whenever it rained, the storm water from the surrounding street gutters drained into a large cesspit of debris, which would swell until it eventually burst its banks and partially empty itself into the surf. But, there would always remain a stagnant pool of water and debris.

Sewage off Bondi

A brown stain of sewage sweeps to the south and into Bondi Beach. Photo courtesy of Waverley Library.

The beach going public also had to deal with sewage, as there was no deep water outlet like we have today. Sewage was pumped directly into the sea from the base of the cliff below the golf course at North Bondi. Sometimes, during bad storms or when the sewage was backed up, they would release raw sewage. If the wind blew nor-easterly for a day, followed by a southerly change, sewage would be blown into the beach. This is where the term “Bondi cigars” originates! So, between the storm water drains down south and the sewage works up north, the place became affectionately known to the locals as “Scum Valley”.

– Dean Cook

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