The Australian-English phrase like a Bondi tram means speedily.
This phrase refers to the tram service between Sydney, New South Wales, and Bondi Beach, a popular beach located 4 miles east of Sydney city centre.
The phrase has continued to be used long after this tram service was discontinued in 1961—as exemplified by the following from Thoughts of babies and retirement fade as Freeman finds herself back in the running, by Jacquelin Magnay, published in The Sydney Morning Herald (Sydney, New South Wales) of Friday 2nd November 2001—the Australian aerial skier Jacqui Cooper (born 1973) was quoted as saying the following about herself and her friend, the Australian sprinter Cathy Freeman (born 1973):
“My goal is that this time next year both of us can sit on the couch and wear our gold medals and watch television. She is definitely ready to get back into it. Today she said she would go slow, but she was going like a Bondi tram.”
These are the earliest occurrences of the phrase that I have found, in chronological order:
1-: From Truth (Sydney, New South Wales) of Sunday 6th October 1940:
£2000—In Two Hands!
Immediately it became known that High Caste was a definite starter in the Epsom Handicap, admirers of the bob-tailed colossus sprinted for the ring, but if they expected to snap up some of the evens that were offering, they had to do more than sprint. The “sevens” and “sixes” offered went “off like a Bondi tram”, and most of the big betting boys not “in the know” had to take fives for their cash.
2-: From “Choco”, a short story by Dan Robinson, of the A.I.F. [Australian Imperial Force], published in the World’s News (Sydney, New South Wales) of Saturday 16th January 1943:
The machine-gun spat out deadly defiance, ten rounds of death-dealing lead which spun the three Japs to earth.
The next two hours were crammed with action and manoeuvres. Despite every cunning trick used by their numerous adversaries, the section weathered two fierce attacks.
Towards twilight they had withdrawn to a familiar mound overlooking the path, and Wilkie took a hurried check. “Two wounded,” he remarked. “One missing——”
Green, almost indistinguishable in a mass of fernery, three yards away, grunted, “Yeh, the Choco went through like a Bondi tram.”
“What do you mean?” Wilkie demanded.
“I saw him sneaking away just as you drew a bead on the three Japs—he is as yellow as they are—or were.”
3-: From “Skeeter’s” Retinue, by “Smith’s” Staff Reporter, published in Smith’s Weekly (Sydney, New South Wales) of Saturday 6th January 1945:
Gunner “Skeeter” Strange had a brother in an infantry battalion, stationed some 20 miles from his camp, and he went to visit him by the thumb-jerking act. […]
A jeep came along. Casually “Skeeter” jerked his thumb. To his amazement the vehicle went through like a Bondi tram. Three others ignored his quivering thumb in the same fashion. It was fantastic; completely contrary to the local rules of the road.
Went through like a Bondi tram—illustration from “Skeeter’s” Retinue—Smith’s Weekly—6th January 1945: