Orion Cafe/H&R Block – Gosford, NSW

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Gosford. It’s unfair to liken the city to a brain-dead coma patient, but I’m going to do it anyway. The body functions, but there’s no drive, no spirit, no passion. One might even go so far as to call Gosford the zombie of the Central Coast.

If I’m being too harsh, it’s only because it’s so heartbreaking to see that main strip and what it’s become, and all the promise that lies underneath. Even something as simple as a cold drink on a hot day is too much for Gosford to provide, so depleted are its refreshment options.

One might look up and spy the Orion Cafe, only to return to thirsty disappointment when the shop underneath hosts a tattoo parlour, a beauty salon, or more likely, nothing at all. It’s the way of Gosford’s Mann Street.

The problem is you’re 87 years too late. In 1926, the Diacopoulos family – renowned in Gosford for their cafes – opened another success story at this address. The Orion quickly became “Gosford’s leading sundae shop and refreshment rooms”. Imagine such a thing today. You can’t.

The Orion was just one of many cafes and eateries maintained by the Diacopouloses (Diacopouli?), brothers Peter, Nick and Angelo. The brothers themselves have long since passed away, with Angelo, the last surviving sibling, passing away in Sydney in 1995 aged 94.

These days, all that remains of the Orion Cafe is the sign atop the shell that once housed Rotary meetings, dispensed hand-dipped chocolates and served up delicious milkshakes and sundaes. Tax accountants, ever a fun vacuum, have taken up in the neighbouring shop, condemning the Orion to a lifetime as just another old relic on Mann Street.

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6 responses

  1. sadly thats the way it looks for that part of mann st empty shop after empty shop the old roller skating rink/waltons store and the former county council building a bit further up are just in a discusting state even the commonwealth bank that was opposite these buildings decided to move futher up to near the station so thats another empty building to add to the growing list you might also like to know that the bilding on the other side of H&R block had until recently and old sign fixed to the top of the building for ‘whittackers sports store’ and with a very old adidas logo this store closed more than 30 years ago

  2. As a boy, from 1954 to the late 70’s, my father owned the newsagency just across from the Orion Café and we lived above the shop fro many years. So the cafe and the Diacopoulos family were familiar and part of the town life we were all shared.

    It was a vibrant little town, but as you say, Mann Street is not nice these days. The regional malls have drained the life from it (as they did Wyong) and what remains is depressing. There were few fine buildings that give meaning to more prosperous towns. Never pretty (none of Australia’s coastal towns were ever that, their fine environments notwithstanding) but it had a life and we saw the area become a series of dormitory suburbs for Sydney, especially after the railway was electrified in the late 50s. The busy little town of 5000, surrounded by citrus orchards and the hub of the Central Coast, is now only a memory.

    1. Kay Sherring (nee Ryan) | Reply

      James, I worked for your dad from late 1956 till ealy 1961.

  3. Kay, I think I remember you. If you are the same person then I have a colour slide of you (somewhere) taken in the backyard of the shop. Mum and dad have been gone some time now. Brother Richard lives on the Sunshine Coast and I am now 78. Gosh. Best wishes.

    James

  4. Richard McCarthy | Reply

    Goodness me. What a blast from the past. Kay, being a man of feeble memory of late (I’m 76) I’m afraid I can’t recall your face, so I’ll need to ask brother James to access that photo he believes he has of you.

    Dad (Les McCarthy) was the mayor of Gosford and when he died in early February 1990, we were astonished to see well over a thousand people attend his funeral. So he was clearly well loved. But what we came to call ‘the Gosford ugliness’ was to our minds the fault of some very small minds. Sensible enhancing projects that would have kept the cobwebs and rot away from Mann St especially, were constantly voted down. The decision to build that appallingly ugly pedestrian overpass over Mann St from the station was a typical example of mindless thinking by mindless men during the years after Dad was no longer in Council. The decision to build that kindergarten on the foreshore, and that wretched Sports (mostly League) stadium also on that parkland along Brisbane Waters was the type of madness that would have made the return of Madam Guillotine and the Tumbrels a worth solution to those who approved these invasions into a beautiful waterside parkland that should have been enjoyed by all, not just the few. The heads of councilmen and women on the occasional lamp post. What better way to recognize the festive season and improve tourism.

    Growl,
    Richard McCarthy

    1. Richard, great to hear from you. I do a lot of family history, so often think about Gosford and your Mum and Dad. I too am 76, I married Warwick Sherring in 1961, the Sherrings lived in Erina Street.
      My sister Jan also worked for you Mum and Dad, she married Peter Ritson, they live at Lisarow. In fact all my sisters and brother live on the Central Coast.
      Warwick and I live in Lismore, been here since early 1970.
      We too hate what has happened to Gosford, my family have all made the similar comments. Your Dad was great for Gosford. We were down last week and are very sad about what is happening.
      Cheers,
      Kay

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