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Last Updated: Saturday, 25 December, 2004, 09:32 GMT
Bondi Christmas hit by booze ban
By Phil Mercer
BBC News, Sydney

Dubliner Andy Orr heads into the sea
Revellers have managed to make the most of conditions on Bondi
Authorities in Australia have banned alcohol at Christmas parties on Bondi beach in Sydney for the first time.

The local council has said the restrictions have been brought in as a safety measure after lifeguards had to rescue more than 100 people last year.

The giant beach party has in the past attracted 40,000 people but inclement weather has kept crowds away this Christmas.

The alcohol ban marks the end of a long-standing tradition on Bondi.

In the past, revellers brought fridges stacked with ice and beer and Christmas trees decorated with cans and bottles.

Last year, 114 people had to be rescued by lifeguards.

Many were drunk and the authorities have had enough.

Security guards and extra police, including officers on horseback, have been on duty.

Anyone found trying to circumvent the restrictions has been turned away.

Smaller crowds

Local mayor Peter Moscatt warned of the danger of drinking on the beach in hot weather.

Three English friends bed down on Bondi beach
But poor weather meant crowds were down on previous years
"You're going to get sick and you're going to make a lot of mess and if you dive in the water, you're likely to drown," he said.

A decade ago, there were serious alcohol-fuelled disturbances at Bondi and in recent times, the local council has become increasingly nervous about safety on the beach.

Many young travellers however have promised to ignore the booze ban.

They have insisted that Christmas Day on this iconic arc of sand will not be the same without a glass of wine or a can of Australian beer.

Crowds this year at Bondi Beach are well down on previous occasions - a combination, perhaps, of grey skies, a slightly chill wind and the alcohol restrictions.

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