Bikini arrests on Bondi Beach
The Local Government Act, Ordinance No. 52 (1935) set exact dimensions for swimming
costumes which remained in force until 1961. An example of this is that men’s and women's
costumes must have legs at least 3" long, must completely cover the front of the body from a
line at the level of the armpits to the waist, have shoulder straps or other means of keeping
the costume in position.
It is impossible to say who was the first woman to wear a bikini on Bondi Beach, what is
known are some of the arrests which took place for breaches of the Local Government Act
relating to swimming costumes.
1940s & 1950s: the first arrests
In 1945 an unnamed woman braved the Bondi promenade wearing a bikini in and according
to a Sunday Telegraph report in 1946 'caused a near riot'. Waverley Council Lifeguard (then
known as Beach Inspectors) Aub Laidlaw told her she was indecently attired and ordered her
to changing sheds at Bondi Pavilion with instructions to put on some more clothes.
She was later charged with offensive behaviour. Another newspaper report recounts this
same story but with this first bikini girl appearing on the beach in September 1946, yet
another newspaper report claims October that year with the girl in the bikini being mobbed
by 'hundreds of young surfers'
Aub Laidlaw is remembered that event in an interview with the Daily Mirror 19 April 1984:
"I remember the first girl I ordered off was a medium sized brunette from Darren St,
Lidcombe. The beach telegraph had got around before I caught up to her and the
mob was round her. We had to escort her out the back door of the pavilion [Bondi
Pavilion] to a tram."
In 1951 Yvonne Freedman was arrested for wearing a bikini as was Hollywood film starlet
Jean Parker. In an interview about his work in 1956 Lifeguard Bill Willis said that the
Lifeguards resented having to act as dress censor, however it was the responsibility to
enforce the Local Government Act on the beach. He said that it was d