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Can you date this photograph? [Bronte Beach, Sydney]

A moment in time……

A bit too cool for water sports and swimming at the moment but something to look forward to in a few more months! This is a photo of Bronte Beach, Sydney. We are hoping that the buildings, or lack of, may be a key element in dating this photo. Can you help?

View larger version on Flickr

Bronte Beach, Sydney. Digital ID: 12932_a012_a012X2441000012

We have many other undated photographs in Photo Investigator and on our Flickr account. If you know the dates or any other interesting facts about these images please let us know.

  • Anthea Brown says:

    A comment (and a great start) from JennysOldCars on the Flickr version:

    “From Looking at the cars on Bronte Marine Drive I’d suggest immediately before or just after WW2 – there’s a couple of late 1920s-early 30s cars, a late 30’s truck and several late 30s vehicles.
    Also worth noting that the 1943 Sydney aerial photos on the Lands Dept Six Viewer show the Bronte Beach precinct pretty clearly and the shelter sheds above the SLC are there in 1943 as are the vacant blocks of land on Bronte Marine Drive.”

    April 27, 2011 at 8:59 am
  • Dorry says:

    Our Local Studies collection has an almost identical photo, with fewer people dated 1929.

    The inscription on the back reads as follows:

    Bronte Beach and Park,, Baths and Bogey Hole.
    Surf Dressing Sheds and Surf Life Saving Club in
    centre, and Bandstand.
    Surf Boat at water’s edge.
    Crowd on beach watching Lifesavers
    Demonstration. 1929

    Purchased NSW Government Printing Office, No. St 13966

    There is no boat or audience in your photo, but in all other respects it is similar.



    May 5, 2011 at 8:22 am
  • Fiona Sullivan says:

    Thanks @Jennysoldcars for sharing your vehicle expertise once again! This gives us a rough date of late 30’s onwards.

    A big thankyou also to @Dorry from Waverley Council for the information from your photogrpahic collection. I think the fact that the area looks similar in 1929 also supports the case for a late 30’s date.

    It looks like the exact date of this one may remain a mystery for a while, we’ll leave it open in case inspiration strikes!

    May 6, 2011 at 11:36 am
  • Robert Mills says:

    Yes late 30s is my best guess too as the model railway on the lawn is not yet present (c1946).

    However the ‘Sing Sing’ block of flats is present on extreme left of photo (c1929) and several blocks of flats have erupted on the northern side of the valley. Sing Sing was built by a disgruntled ‘developer’ who was refused Waverley Council permission to build a hotel – consequently he vowed to build the ugliest structure in the area and he succeeded.

    Changing sheds c 1914/15 and second SLSC building opened February 1931 are present.

    If it was wartime then there would be barbed wire on the beach and next to no punters in the surf.

    As the centrally located clocktower is still present on the roof of the SLSC this view is definitley pre war. It was removed at the onset of WW2.

    Smaller style shelter sheds arrived after a State Govt enquiry into beach facilities just prior to WW1 – the sheds on the northern hill are larger versions built later on.

    So …. Its a summer weekend on the eve of WW2 and most of the beachgoers would have arrived by tram. Hence the large number of people present in the pix. There is a very low tide in progress.

    May 30, 2011 at 1:43 pm
  • Anthea Brown says:

    @Robert Mills, what a wonderful description of this photo! I think late 1930s is the general consensus and about as close as we will get to dating this photo. Definitely pre-war from your info on the removal of the clock tower and about barbed-wire being present then.

    Shame on that developer to deliberately build the ugliest structure he could!

    May 31, 2011 at 12:15 pm
  • Neil says:

    Do we have tides as low as this today. In visits to Bronte Beach in the past 5 years I have never seen the tide this low. Could tidal records assist with a date?
    The dressing sheds lower left are not those of today when were they replaced? When was the high bar removed at the end of the pool? It is not there today.

    June 30, 2011 at 2:45 pm
  • Rohan says:

    I’m currently doing a school heritage assignment of Waverley Cemetery and have come across this photo in “the history of wavely 1859-1959” which can be downloaded as a pdf from the library website:
    (PART 3, page 153)

    There is no date specifically attached to the photo, and i currently lack the time to read the text surrounding it, but i hope this sheds some light.

    September 11, 2011 at 9:03 pm
  • Fiona Sullivan says:

    Well spotted @Rohan. It’s almost the same picture but not quite. I wonder if it was taken on the same day?

    September 12, 2011 at 10:30 am
  • Stu says:

    Fiona, the photo supplied by Rohan and the photo which is the subject of this thread are actually identical. The one which is the subject of this thread has just been cropped.

    Take a look at the people in the foreground pool, they match up perfectly.

    July 30, 2012 at 12:42 am
  • Fiona Sullivan says:

    Thanks for the correction @Stu. You are right the people standing around the edge of the pool clinch it (especially the young boy climbing out of the water).

    Given that the photo above comes from series “NRS12932 – Original Prints of Photographs used in NSW trains”, it may have been cropped to suit to their purposes.

    July 31, 2012 at 11:29 am