Vanessa’s Milk Bar/For Lease – Belfield, NSW

Milk bars have taken on a kind of mythical quality, especially with the late Gen-Y set. In death, they’re trendy and retro in ways they could never have been in life. They’re kind of like Michael Jackson in that way – now that he’s gone, everyone remembers how cool and trendsetting he once was, but they forget (intentionally or not) the creepy stuff. Years of film and TV showing our favourite characters hanging out in cafes and burger joints have inspired many youngsters to want to find their own hangout joints, but as the milk bars die off all that’s left are the pubs.

There’s a fine line too between milk bars and charcoal chicken shops. Most charcoal places you’d find today don’t do milkshakes, or are doing some kind of Portuguese style cooking to set themselves apart from the regular charcoal style. Problem is, the charcoals are now in the minority.

Oh, and for anyone still wondering: Vanessa’s Milk Bar was run by a cranky old Greek guy named George (never call him Vanessa), who would rouse at you if you stared at his exhaustive lolly assortment for too long. C’mon, George, you knew we had to look. I wonder how he reacted during the open inspections?

4 responses

  1. Anthony the Koala | Reply

    Dear Michael,
    “Vanessa’s” was previously a milk bar which was converted from a milk bar in the late 1970s. I remember the the front of the shop; on the left was the large curved glass window displaying the ‘rocky road’ and ‘lamington’ cakes and the collapsible wooden framed door. I also recall the glass window and the windows of collapsible doors adorned with 1/4 inch metallic burglar alarm tape.

    The layout was typically a u-shaped shop; on the left were the cakes and on the right was the milk bar where the milk shakes were served in either a long metal or long cardboard cup. Somewhere near the front there was a mechanical vending machine which held two long glass containers holding the lollies, or small egg-shaped containers with trinkets.

    The proprietor was still “George”. In my opinion he was good sincere person. I know he has been kind to someone close to me.

    When I used to wait for the 415 school bus in the 1970s, you could see a cat walking and relaxing on the sheets of paper used to wrap the cakes. As far as I recall, I don’t think I have ever purchased a cake.

    Today, as at March 2017, it is not serving food at all but is now a therapeutic centre.

    Anthony of Belfield

  2. Just adding here that right across the road was another milk bar across the road that I preferred. Same deal – fish and chips, ‘scallops’, milkshakes, ice creams, etc.

  3. Anthony The Koala | Reply

    Dear Michael,
    In regards to the “(an)other milk bar across the road…”, That milk bar come fish & chips with limited tables and seating once known as “Manuel’s” is with two other shopfronts subject to redevelopment. See my entry as “Anthony The Koala” Nov 29, 2017 at .

    You may be interested in the following aerial views and artist’s impression of the proposed redevelopment opposite “Vanessa’s” now a thereapeutic centre.

    Back of shops

    Archived at:×750-resize,r=0,g=0,b=0,progressive/54aaefb92ed83f2655a9501e7d1c647abc512313978df23ba25649f9397d0ea0/image4.jpg

    Aerial view front of shops

    Archived at:

    Aerial view of shops – note that includes the supermarket

    Archived at:

    Artist’s impression of shops

    Archived at:

    Anthony of exciting Belfield

  4. Anthony The Koala | Reply

    The City of Sydney archives contain various digital resources.

    Photo of Belfield Shopping Centre at night.

    This photo taken in 1976 shows “Vanessa’s Milk Bar” as “Milk Bar”. Behind is the barber then behind that is the Chinese restaurant. The barber remains and the Chinese restaurant is a coffee shop.

    The sign saying “Cleo” was the newsagent. Behind the newsagent was Boyd Pharmacy. Today the newsagent is the “Pelicana” chicken shop while the Boyd Pharmacy became the newsagent.

    Here is the street view courtesy of Google Maps of the shops today,,151.0838132,3a,90y,242.79h,92.28t/data=!3m7!1e1!3m5!1sc1h7w3JUVoMsmOS7qkNufw!2e0!!7i16384!8i8192

    The bus was a “..PTC AEC Regal III 2526 with a body built by Comeng in 1951 showing Route 415 Enfield Depot…” PTC = Public Transport Commission of NSW. AEC = Associated Equipment Company, a manufacturer of buses, but built by Comeng = Commonwealth Engineering.

    Thank you,
    Anthony of exciting Belfield

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