Tag Archives: supermarket

The Ballad of Tuncurry Plaza – Tuncurry, NSW

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It’s an Australian tradition – a summer holiday where you all pile into the family car and tolerate each others’ company in close proximity for several hours before stopping at a beachside town for a week or so of fun, laughter, awkward silence, teen angst, Bubble O’ Bills, arguments, bitterness, shifting allegiances, charcoal chicken, backstabbing, fishing, violence and ultimately, relief at returning to the social fold.

Or was it just me?

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Forster Tuncurry is one of those towns, like Ulladulla or the Entrance, usually associated with that summer pilgrimage, and fortunately, it’s well equipped to handle any needs you may have during your trip. Forget one of those creature comforts? Head over to Tuncurry Plaza, they’ve got you covered!

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Or do they?

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Gee, it’s looking a little…sparsely populated right now, but it does tick all the boxes. Hair salon?

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Supermarket?

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Chicken shop?

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Uh…is it Sunday?

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Okay, butcher?

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You’re making me look bad, Tuncurry Plaza! You gotta at least have some thoughtful things…

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Aw, come on!

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Tuncurry Plaza’s plaque claims the centre opened in 1996, but the architecture suggests a time decades earlier. Maybe they renovated and extended it in ’96 to handle all the *snort* extra customers…

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Step 1: Get people to come inside. Step 2: Evacuate.

As it stands, the place is a tomb. The women in the pharmacy asked me what the hell I was doing taking photos, but when I explained what I do, they were much more forthcoming. A familiar soap opera of local egos, greed and apathy explained why things are the way they are here, but that’s not the interesting part, is it?

No, it’s that sense of total abandonment, like they could have just walked out yesterday. In a world becoming more and more populated by the day, to find a place that’s completely empty and silent is a rare treat. Behold:

No more picking up a Dan Brown or Kaz Cooke to half-read on the beach while you tan, only to spill sand all over your bed when you try to finish it back home…

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Hard to find, alright.

No more watery coffee and stale scones while you wait for him to buy a replacement for that torch he swore he packed but is sitting on the kitchen table at home…

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While we’re at it, no replacement torch.

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Definitely NO toilet breaks.

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Some of the tenants had moved out to the street where, y’know, people are.

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…while some had vanished without a trace.

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There’s plenty of parking, natch.

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Though this bastard stole my spot.

Although we can’t take the failure of Tuncurry Plaza as a standard for such places across the country, it’s certainly something you’re seeing more and more. Just look at Newcastle – a city-sized Tuncurry Plaza, which has required government intervention in order to live again. Look at Holbrook, where not even a submarine could save it from going under. Port Macquarie, which is dangerously close to being renamed Port Macarthur.

The need for expedient travel is killing places like this. As we live longer, as work demands more of us, and as the internet is making it easier to plan trips for ourselves, we’re trying to cram more into our leisure time. Once upon a time, you’d brag about your summer trip to Tuncurry. Now, unless you’ve been to St. Barts or Mauritius, you keep it to yourself.

Ain’t nobody wanna see this on their feed:

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Video Ezy/Your Loan Mortgage Brokers – Narwee, NSW

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I’ve written before about the legend of Video Ezy, and much has been written since about its downfall. Gather ’round, kids, and I’ll tell you a tale.

It should come as no surprise to anyone that the days of the video shop are long over, with so many titans of the industry falling in recent times.

As recently as 1996, today’s home entertainment climate seemed unthinkable – an era in which an unlimited well of entertainment options is available in one’s own home. Sure, occasionally you’ll spy a lone DVD kiosk, now the pillar of the industry (an industry…), standing unloved in a shopping centre somewhere, but I’m willing to bet very few of you have ever used one.

So neglected by society is the concept of renting entertainment that few, if any, memorial sites exist today for what was once such an everyday part of life. That libraries survived the format war – and continue to thrive today – speaks volumes about how far from grace the video shop has fallen.

But here, in this dark, menacing alleyway in Narwee, the legacy lives on.

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Look up and you’ll see a typical example of the de-ezyfication process. Even before the graffiti artists got to it, a more professional job had been done on the “Ezy” part, presumably as some off-brand video shop took up Video Ezy’s old space in those dark later years.

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Around the front, you’d never know any of that. Four separate, entirely uninteresting businesses now occupy the huge floorspace you know Video Ezy would have filled effortlessly. If there’s one thing vendors of unwieldy tape-to-tape spools contained in cumbersome plastic cases did well, it’s take up real estate.

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On the west side, our quarry is left relatively untouched, and we can see that the building once housed a supermarket as well.

Just for a moment, take yourself back to one of those Friday nights, when someone couldn’t be bothered cooking and there was nothing on TV. You’d head down to the video shop, where part of the fun were the hours it took just to decide on one title (and with the prices as they were, who could blame you?). You’d grab some popcorn because you’ve been conditioned as a corny traditionalist. You’d hit up the supermarket for a bucket of exotic ice cream (which for some meant a Viennetta). And then you’d head home via the nearest fast food joint and ring in the weekend with the biggest Hollywood stars of the day.

That’s right, you didn’t ask for much out of life.

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On the back wall, however, an urban Rembrandt tells another story…

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..one of community, harmony, and happy weekends full of leftover Viennetta, when you got it the first time or got it free.

Coles/Delphi Bank & HSBC – Burwood, NSW

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In further evidence that the world is an evil place, I present to you Exhibit ZZY. Once a quaint, harmless little art-deco Coles supermarket and variety store, this Burwood Road location now offers only a variety of soulless banking institutions, neither of which could afford decent paint:

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While we’re on the topic, remember when Coles was just a supermarket? Now, each Coles pretty much functions as a bank: you can withdraw, deposit, you wait in a long line to get treated like dirt, and they assault you with painful television ads in your own home. In a further chilling parallel, Coles is even attempting an insurance service now, which by all accounts seems to be going over as well as those Status Quo ads.

Cane Bazaar/Nothing – Beverly Hills, NSW

The legendary Cane Bazaar at Beverly Hills. For years it’s seemed like the suburb was built around this behemoth – it’s a staple. But now there are rumblings, and it appears like the Bazaar is about to enter the next phase of its existence, about to take its first steps without a cane.

The recent alterations to the shopfront have exposed what appear to be two distinct structures beneath the Cane Bazaar facade (facaad?). Perhaps long before even its supermarket days, this was indeed two separate shops along King Georges Road. Reader Vivien has pointed out that this was in fact the site of Woolworths’ first self-service variety supermarket in 1955:

Woolworths Self-Service Variety Store opening day, Beverly Hills, October 1955. Image courtesy Woolworths Limited.

Look at that crowd! And you thought today’s self-service checkouts were mayhem. Later, it became a Jewel supermarket (remember those?) before the populace decided cane was in.

But back to this facade. Can I draw your attention for one moment to the boasts of lay-by and delivery services? First of all, it’s cane furniture, so it’s not exactly gonna break the bank. Second, it’s cane furniture, so it’s light as. They could have delivered their wares on bicycles. Also, I was unaware of this, but Bankcard has been discontinued since 2006. Pretty sure it outlived the Cane Bazaar, though.

Penshurst Theatre/IGA – Penshurst, NSW

Sometimes, places of historical interest may be buried in the most unlikely, mundane places – and it doesn’t get much more mundane than IGA.

Penhurst IGA, and the Punchy’s Gym that sits above it, may not look like much, but in 1925 this was the site of the newly opened Nash’s Penshurst Theatre. C’mon, look again and tell me you can’t see the resemblance. Let me just say it’s been extremely hard to find anything at all on this theatre, other than that it was owned by a Mr. W Nash, opened in 1925 and stayed open until at least 1954. At some point it was closed and transformed into the building that exists today. While it’s not immediately identifiable as the theatre, if you look closely you can see that the same basic frontage is there (albeit crimped), and the IGA is certainly big enough. Anyway, as we know, stranger things have happened. As always, if you know more, please let Past/Lives know.

One interesting anecdote: in 1932, the Penshurst Theatre was taken to court by Raycophone, a Sydney-based company (with a factory in Annandale) which manufactured speakers and amplifiers for motion picture theatres.

Image courtesy audioheritage.org

Allegedly, Penshurst Theatre thrashed the Raycophone ‘talking picture sound reproducing equipment’ they hired, and returned them in unsatisfactory condition. Scandalous! Even worse was that in their defence, PT claimed that they’d received the equipment in that poor condition. I know that today we have DTS and THX surround sound and all that, but seriously, how hard must Nash have been cranking the likes of Shanghai Express, Scarface or Red Dust to blow the speakers off their Raycophone? Dudes were wild back then.

Massive thank you to reader Carmen for the picture of Penshurst Theatre, and to reader Shaun for the hot tip in the first place!