Bondi Junction attack: Westfield centre reopens doors to shoppers nearly a week after stabbing massacre

Georgina Noack
The Nightly
3 Min Read
Members of the public returned to Westfield Bondi Junction for a day of reflection before retailers reopened their doors on Friday.
Members of the public returned to Westfield Bondi Junction for a day of reflection before retailers reopened their doors on Friday. Credit: Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images

Shoppers and workers have described an eerie and edgy atmosphere at Westfield Bondi Junction, which reopened its doors on Friday almost a week after Joel Cauchi’s murderous rampage.

“It’s certainly not business as usual,” said Wendy Nixon, a cosmetic nurse who works in the centre.

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She is returning to work for the first time since the attack.

“It’s so quiet, so eerie in there. It’s so sad, and it’s usually such a hub, such a thriving place.”

Black ribbons were displayed on screens throughout the building in a tribute to the victims stabbed to death by the 40-year-old Cachui.

Ms Nixon has been left devastated, much like others who have laid tributes at the shopping centre, by the “senseless” violence.

“I feel apprehensive to be back, it’s certainly changed the way we’re going to be living,” she said.

“ What I took from it is that as a society we help each other, which I suppose if you can find any good in it, it’s that.”

Local Bradley Cam described the atmosphere inside the mall as “on edge”.

“This is my local (shopping centre), it’s not the same inside as it was,” he said.

“It doesn’t feel unsafe but I definitely think everyone feels a bit on edge being back here. It’s definitely not normal.”

A message for customers as Bondi Junction shopping centre reopened its doors.
A message for customers as Bondi Junction shopping centre reopened its doors. Credit: Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images

While most stores reopened on Friday, several remained closed, including Country Road which posted a message at the store entrance telling customers it would reopen on Monday, “to allow team members time to recover”.

“Our hearts go out to the Bondi Junction community who are still healing,” the statement read.

“Out of respect, we will avoid conversations about recent events in our store and instead focus on welcoming our team members and customers back.”

“Thank you to our wonderful customers, team members and the Bondi Junction community for your incredible support.”

Westfield Bondi Junction.
Westfield Bondi Junction. Credit: Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images

Local mum of two Lauren Gear stopped at the centre to pay her respects with her daughters on Friday.

Having grown-up in the area, she said she was “devastated” when news of the attack broke, and her first thought was “do I know anyone inside?”

She shops at Bondi Junction at least once a week and said it still felt unreal that it was a place of violence.

“I wasn’t actually going to come in today, I definitely didn’t think I would be back for a while but when I saw the (flower) tribute outside, I felt I had to pay our respects.”

She said it felt safe inside, with the number of people and added security around.

“But I don’t know how long that’s going to last once the security and the attention goes away.”

Members of the public return to Westfield Bondi Junction area during a day of reflection on Thursday.
Members of the public return to Westfield Bondi Junction area during a day of reflection on Thursday. Credit: Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images

Visitors of all ages queued quietly to leave flowers and write in condolence books available at the memorial site.

They are also being offered black ribbons to pin to their clothes as a way to remember those who lost their lives.

David Snowden said his local shopping centre was “much quieter than usual”.

Outside at the memorial, where tributes are spilling out of a white marquee the smell of flowers fills the air.

Flower tributes.
Flower tributes. Credit: Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images

Mental health officers, and a few companion animals also walked through the mall. Support staff from the Salvation Army and local medical teams were also seen quietly talking to visitors.

One of the workers wearing a hi-vis “MENTAL HEALTH” spoke to The Nightly and said he had experienced the full range of emotions from people who visited the site.

“Some really want to talk about how they’re feeling, and others want to sort of stand and reflect,” he said.

“Some people have even been checking in on us, actually, it’s beautiful to see how everyone has come together.”

Cauchi killed six people and injured 12 more, including a nine-month-old baby last Saturday afternoon, before he was shot dead by NSW Police officer Amy Scott.

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