How much is that Unix in the window?
I think this may be my favourite shopfront so far, and possibly ever. I love that they’ve used the world’s strongest paint (?) to craft their advertisement to the world; no flashy banners here. I love the single-minded devotion to the RSS feed-esque concept – the way the words are cut off and begin again haphazardly (unless they sold interns and nets as well, to be fair). I love the idea of the owner being struck by a vision of how his shop should present itself to the outside world, and either making it happen himself, or asking (forcing) someone else to do it. Someone crafted this by hand. You’ve gotta respect that vision. Then again, when this place was in its prime, all you needed was the word INTERNET to get people in your door. And speaking of…
Once upon a time, this tiny shop on Stoney Creek Road was on the bleeding edge of the information superhighway ultra-revolution. Alternately Computer Consulting Services and Systems Contractors, they sold internet by the pound here.
But it wasn’t just internet that these guys were hawking. Unix, a programmer-focused operating system designed to be easily ported to a variety of systems. It may sound like a foreign language to most these days, but it’s actually more common than you think. Apple’s OS X, found on any Mac or iPod or iPhone, is Unixian in nature.
Back before easy wifi connections and computers that did it all for us, if you were a small business or home office, you’d call places like this to set up your network so that your Joyce on the front desk could email Mr. Burroughs in his office right out back without having to get up. Barry from accounts could shoot through the latest BAS statements to the auditors at their temporary setup in the board room without anyone having to leave their seats. Suddenly, everyone was about to get fatter.
While Unix systems are still heavily used today, the name isn’t as prominent. Now it’s more a case of certain operating systems being certified as adhering to the Unix specification, such as OS X or Linux.
So this time, it’s not thanks to some ancient advert or antiquated phone number that we can place a date on this shop – it’s that they weren’t pushing Linux.
The “No More Junk” sticker on the front door is particularly apt: there’s barely any room for more. It’s safe to say that whoever resides here now isn’t interested in operating systems or multitasking beyond 4WD touring while listening to Shihad.
But as always, we must look to the past, and what the past reveals for us this time is simultaneously surprising and terrifying.
They sold open fires here. No wonder the building next door is gone.
In just a few short years, the inviting hallmarks of a milk bar have become warning signs that a building has fallen derelict. There was a time when you’d see that Streets logo, a giant hamburger mural or one of those giant Coke cans with the name of the milk bar wrapped around the lip and think to yourself that yes, you were actually quite hungry and a big burger with the lot really would go down well right about now. These days, it’s more common that you’d sigh and keep moving, because there’s a McDonalds or a Subway just up the road, and at least then you can drive through and not have to get out of the car because you’re making good time and the in-laws’ll be upset if they don’t get to see the grandkids today.
Inside: classic milk bar decor. I always wondered what the mirrored walls were for. Was it to make the place look bigger? Was it to further enhance the iconic scenario of sitting in a milk bar and sipping a shake by allowing you to see yourself? Or was it for Spiro to be able to make sure he’s always looking dapper between serving up fish ‘n chips?
I like that even though they were ‘take away food’ shops, nostalgia has us missing the eat-in experience. If this place was open today, you wouldn’t want to take it away – you’d want to bask in an ambiance of another time, one that back in the day seemed timeless itself, and one you thought would always be there.
The St. George County Council was established in 1920 to control the distribution of electricity within the Municipalities of Bexley, Hurstville, Kogarah and Rockdale, and was the first of its kind in Australia. In 1939, this building was constructed for the St. George County Council, presumably as a way of showing off just how fancy and powerful the Council was. During the early years of the SGCC, it was reported that St. George residents enjoyed the cheapest electricity in the country.
By 1963 it appears that most of the county’s electricity was being distributed right to this building, what with all the neon signs. Absolute power corrupts, so to speak. The St. George County Council enjoyed its name up in lights until 1980, when it was amalgamated with the Sydney City Council, itself rebranded in 1991 as Sydney Electricity and in 1996, EnergyAustralia. Now, St. George residents pay too much for electricity just like the rest of us.
Today the building has become a branch of the Bank of China, among other things, and doubtless many electricity bills are paid here. They’ve still got the neon happening there in the bottom right, perhaps just to prove that they can. It’s for a dental clinic, not a place you often associate with neon signage. The clock is a poor facsimile of its predecessors, too; also, it doesn’t work.
It’s gotta be a kick in the tablets when you can only get the ex-Minister for Works & Local Government to unveil your building. Spooner, a Conservative, had resigned as Minister a few months earlier after publicly describing that year’s State Budget as ‘faked’. He was also responsible for regulating the appropriate cut of mens bathing suits, insisting on the full-length one-piece. Sort of like the Tony Abbott of his day, in that way.
Here we have the festering remains of the St. George Bowling Club. Like many of its members, the bowling club came into existence in 1900, when a meeting at the Rockdale Town Hall ended with a decision to form a bowling club. I wonder how many town hall meetings end like that these days? For that matter, I wonder how many town hall meetings actually start these days?
Feathers were ruffled in 1919 when the land the bowling club was built on was suddenly and urgently required by New South Wales Government Railways to enable quadruplication of the railway lines by that project’s estimated completion date of 2030. The club was moved, and seemed to land closer to the jack here on Harrow Road.
In an apparent passive-aggressive display of entrenchment, the little street beside the club is named Bowlers Avenue. Doesn’t it look silly today. Bowlers Avenue sounds more like a memorial garden in a cemetery.
While the building is a rare example of a Federation era bowling club, it’s also been abandoned for several years. Unfriendly signs threaten would-be bowlers to stay the hell out, and many of the building’s windows have been boarded up.
No one is picking up the sport of lawn bowls these days, and as the current superstars of the game fade away, there really is no need for these clubs. This one didn’t even have a TAB. And after all, it’s not like this is an isolated incident. Unless there’s some big recruitment drive for new members sometime soon, the game will end up with most of its players on that big Bowlers Ave in the sky.