Bondi View

Surfing’s “unsung hero” honoured on Bondi Sea Wall

Pauline Menczer

A mural of Bondi surfing legend Pauline Menczer was unveiled at the Sea Wall earlier this week. Photo: Waverley Council.

By AMBER GRIFFIN

A mural of Australian surfing trailblazer Pauline Menczer was unveiled on the Bondi Sea Wall this week, with the eastern suburbs native honoured as an “unsung hero” of the surfing world.

Menczer is the only person from Bondi to win a world surfing title (1993) but never received any prize money or sponsorships in a sport dominated by men in the late 20th century.

The mural was painted by Canberra artist Megan Hales, who told City Hub that she was touched by Menczer’s story. She was approached about the mural by Michaela Perske, the producer of the Menczer-featuring ‘Girls Can’t Surf’ documentary, who supplied Hale with a collection of photos of Menczer during her career.

“I worked through images to come up with a design that I thought felt like the time she won the world title, incorporating some little personal details for Pauline,” Hales said. 

The mural was unveiled in time for the Bondi Ocean Lovers Festival. Photo: Waverley Council.

She explained that details of the mural such as the stickers on her surfboard and the necklace Menczer wears were all present on the day Menczer won the world title.  

“I knew I wanted to get a lot of likeness and realism in the face so that it really felt like she was there to the locals who know her so well,” Hales said. “If just a handful of people see the mural who will now know Pauline’s name that didn’t before, that’s my job done.” 

Pauline Menczer statue considered by council 

Waverley Mayor Paula Masselos moved a unanimous motion at a council meeting last year to recognise Menczer’s achievements in the surfing world and investigate “options for the appropriate recognition”, which included being featured on the Sea Wall and a plaque or statue. While speaking to City Hub, Cr Masselos said that council can do more to honour Menczer’s legacy. 

Paula Masselos. Photo: Facebook.

“She is a complete inspiration for young women wanting to get into surfing, she is inspiring a whole new generation of girls and women to get into the water and surf those waves,” Cr Masselos said. 

The mural has sparked renewed calls for a sculpture of Menczer to be erected at Bondi Beach, which has received support through a community GoFundMe campaign. In February last year, a GoFundMe was set up to provide Menczer with prize money for her 1993 world surfing title, which as of writing, has received over $60,000. Only 6 per cent of statues in Sydney are of women.

The mural was completed in time for Bondi’s Ocean Lovers Festival, which took place last weekend. Founder and Director of the festival Anita Kolni said that the festival and mural are sharing hope and solutions for the ocean with the community. 

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