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Bondi Mary (1870–1941)

from Sun

For more than 25 years a familiar figure on Bondi Beach, an 80-year-old woman was found dead early to-day in a summer house at the beach.

To thousands of beachgoers she was known as "Bondi Mary." Her real name was Helen Packer — but that is about all that is known of her.

From dawn to dusk, winter and summer, she pottered about the beach and park, begging tit-bits of food from picnickers, tradesmen, or anyone she might meet.

An old felt hat, pulled well down over her head, anything from three to six old overcoats, and a pair of holed sandshoes comprised her wardrobe, and across her shoulders she always carried, strung together with rope, two sugar-bags.

She had no fixed living place. In fine weather she usually slept in one of the many summer-houses at the beach. In winter her home was a small, secluded cave near "The Boot." between Bondi and Tamarama. She rarely spoke, except to beg for food.

Many and varied are stories told of "Bondi Mary."

Police are investigating information that she was the mother of three sons who were killed in the 1914-18 war. This, it is said, was why she invariably wore old military overcoats.

Another story was that her father was an English nobleman, but none of the stories has been substantiated.

About 4.30 a.m. to-day Constable Perrin found her huddled in the corner of a summer-house. He called Eastern Suburbs Ambulance, but "Bondi Mary" had died in her sleep.

Any person who can supply information about her, or any of her relatives, is asked to communicate with Bondi police.

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Citation details

'Bondi Mary (1870–1941)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, https://oa.anu.edu.au/obituary/bondi-mary-29657/text36629, accessed 28 January 2022.

© Copyright Obituaries Australia, 2010-2022

Life Summary [details]

Alternative Names
  • Packer, Helen
  • Peterson, Bridget Ellen
  • Madame Pacquer
Birth

1870
Muswellbrook, New South Wales, Australia

Death

22 November 1941
Bondi, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

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