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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2 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.

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