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Glenelg. The Beach From Our Youth

On a stinking hot summer’s day in Adelaide, before we were all air conditioned, there was one escape from the heat, the beach.

We are blessed with many fine beaches along the coastline, but most people would head for ‘the bay’. A nice easy drive along Anzac Highway, and as you neared the end of the journey the blue water line would come into view, then the sand, crowded with families all trying to catch a bit of the cool breeze.

Photo shared by Steve Arnd from ARW Facebook. The old car park at the Glenelg beach, many a lost Saturday  night spent parking there.

Photo shared by Steve Arnd from ARW Facebook. The old car park at the Glenelg beach, many a lost Saturday night spent parking there.

As teenagers, Glenelg was one of those regular hangouts. I have fond memories of lost Saturday nights ‘hooning’ with 3 or 4 mates, a trip to Burger King on Anzac Highway for a hamburger and Coke and then we’d take a cruise in the FJ to Glenelg to see what was happening at the beach. It seems all so innocent now but back then we were just trying to have a bit of fun and stay out of trouble.

Last year Greg Barila from Adelaide Now and the Advertiser wrote a piece in the Messenger asking “What the hell happened to Glenelg?”

He wrote of how “Car trips to Adelaide from Mildura in the 80s and 90s were a source of great excitement when I was a boy. It felt like an exotic adventure, pointing dad’s old blue Ford Falcon towards South Australia.

And when, after an epic four-hour journey, we finally rolled into the famous City of Churches we usually always stayed in that most exotic of places – Glenelg. Mum and dad often booked us into the Patawalonga Motor Inn, a stone’s throw from the Buffalo and World Revolving Restaurant, and a couple of streets from Jetty Rd.

Glenelg, to put it mildly, was a different place back then. One of the suburb’s main attractions, for example, was a large, magic, fibreglass poo… er, mountain; the old Red Rattlers still made music down the main street and, where great Floridian-style apartments now stand, there was a simple carpark offering unencumbered ocean views.

I’m not sure how, when or why it happened, but someone buggered up the best bits of Glenelg in the years since I first visited as a kid.

I used to enjoy a trip down to the Bay in summer. Now, I largely steer clear of the joint, visit only occasionally and feel sad when I do. A friend calls the place “Hindley Street by the sea”. A tad harsh, perhaps, but I take his meaning.

Moseley Square, with its palm trees, chain stores, Frappuccino’s and golden arches, is the Times Square of Adelaide, the Gold Coast of South Australia. And then there’s the pigeon poo. Jetty Rd, even sans the lovely old cinema, is still a pretty strip. But the shopping precinct – a grab bag of take away food, clothing, chemists, jewellers and camping suppliers – lacks any kind of speciality focus to make a special trip a must, I think”.

Photo from Holdfast Bay History Centre. The Glenelg sideshows, very popular spot during school holidays.

Photo from Holdfast Bay History Centre. The Glenelg sideshows, very popular spot during school holidays.

Like Greg, I rarely get to the bay any more and when I do I hardly recognise it.

I understand we must have progress and I’m sure the people who live in the apartment buildings that now block out the view of the beach, love the place as it is now.

What are your memories of Glenelg as you were growing up?




24 Responses to Glenelg. The Beach From Our Youth

  1. Dave Hudson September 25, 2014 at 10:20 pm #

    Well I was born in Glenelg in 1966, so I’ve seen a lot of change. For me though, Glenelg will always be about the riots circa ’86?

    • qweztionz5 September 27, 2014 at 9:55 am #

      I was born at the Community Hospital in Farrell St, Glenelg, also in 1966. I was at Glenelg the night of one of the riots but my mate and myself left probably a half hour before things started! Thought it was around 83 or 84 though.

    • Yvonne January 26, 2022 at 7:46 am #

      The riots were in 84. My friends and I were about 17 or 18 and had lost my 14 year old sister and her friend just before it started. We had to find them to leave. Psuedo Echo and Sandy and the Sunsets played.

  2. peter mangelsdorf September 27, 2014 at 10:32 am #

    hot buttered vegemite roll shit hot st leonards rules

  3. Bob Johnston September 29, 2014 at 8:40 am #

    1950’s -Naw, going to the Semi or Large’s maybe the Beach (Henley), Glenelg to classy, great shielas tho

  4. Peter H December 14, 2014 at 4:12 am #

    I remember Saturday nights at the car park watching people do burnouts. One night the cops were there in plain clothes (my mate and myself had a police scanner so we were listening in). They were pulling everyone over his did a burnout and defecting their car. We had a good laugh because no one noticed what was going on. By the time we left they’d already book about 20 cars. Guess they filled their monthly quota lol.

    • Neville Horn May 8, 2016 at 10:11 am #

      Yes I was there too,I was one of the C B ers,I was in the Nescafé cb club,the car park was one of our get together spots for a Friday night,and watching other doing burns and spinning around the roundabout at the entrance to the car park at end of Anzac Hwy.lots of great memories,of people and my teenage years.

    • Troy April 1, 2017 at 5:18 am #

      The Bay car park was the place to be and be seen
      Regularly during summer it didn’t matter if it was a Friday night or a Tuesday night it was packed full of people of all ages from all around Adelaide just hanging out watching the world cars and girls go by
      Throw in a hot dog from Fat Boys food van and or 5 shots for $2 from the shooting gallery or a 3 games for $2 of pinball from Aladdins Castle and it was a good night out for all

  5. Bernie Bradford August 29, 2015 at 7:11 pm #

    As a boy from the country I remember Staying with cousins as a kid at Sommerton Park and walked along the beach to Glenelg and enjoyed the rides & dodgems that were a permanent fixture in the late sixties.. Later on as a teenager rode a motorbike from Murray Bridge to the new “hungry jacks” on Anzac Hwy just to get a burger or the incredible “Yumbo” a hot ham & Cheese roll. Wish they still sold them.. Great memories!!

  6. Peter H September 15, 2015 at 11:45 pm #

    I was lived in Nth Glenleg adjacent to Patawilya Reserve from 1949 till i married in 1970 as a kid The Pat was but a mere trickle…then one day along came the cranes and bulldozers to dig it out for The south Western Drainage accomodate the storm water via Sturt and Brownhill Creeks….life had changed
    I was about 13 when the first major flood occurred..i remember heading out fishing early only to see thousands of fish washed up against the edges gasping for breath…not small fish either..lots of mullet bream and mulloway
    The fresh water had “drowned” the saltwater fish….i grabbed a couple…took them home cleaned them and tried them for breakfast…no muddy taste …very palatable…so the next few hours were spent wandering the banks hauling out the biggest fish and taking them home to clean…mum wast all that impressed…but id provided a few cheap meals for a while.
    Our days of riding our bikes and being skid kids on the samphire flats of a summer Pat were over.
    These days i find Glenelg is too plastic for me…a nice place to visit but i dont want to live there…if fractures my childhood memories of easy going ….good times

  7. Joshua O'Grady June 4, 2016 at 2:02 am #

    My great grandfather owned a barbershop on jetty road from 1950 – 1970.
    The shop was called Tom O’Gradys barbershop from what I’ve been told. Been looking for a photo or information on the shop if anyone can help me please contact me

    • Trevor Clement June 14, 2016 at 10:33 pm #

      Thomas Patrick O’Grady was my grand father. The father of my mother Roma Jesse O’Grady
      My father used to take me for hair cuts there back in the 50’s His shop was at the back of a tobacconist or news agent, not sure there on Jetty Road. My name is Trevor Clement. Long time ago now!

  8. Barry February 17, 2019 at 6:34 pm #

    I remember cookies kitchen and huggie bears

  9. Jenny February 19, 2020 at 8:13 pm #

    I hung out at Brighton beach in the late 50s and the 60s, but visited the bay quite a lot. I remember the sideshows especially the motor boats near the car park and the penny arcade machines which i believe eucha vic has a lot in a museum now. All great fun

    • Lynette Best January 6, 2024 at 2:44 pm #

      Hi Jenny, I have just read your post. Do you remember who operated motor boats at Glenelg in the 60s?
      I have been trying everywhere to find this information.

      Regards Lynette Best

  10. jamie m April 1, 2020 at 10:25 pm #

    hi…too “QWEZTION 5” that reply here I saw..yeah I was born at Glenelg community like you and also in 1966 (4 jan ) and also the big riot at Glenelg you mention was when “suzy and the sunsets” and others played and shocked that you said you left early as I did as well and walked back to brighton maybe 1 hour before it started .and missed out on all the fun ? at Glenelg I did burnouts in 1984? in a 318 v8 vj valiant and I saw heaps of others doing them too and sure I got a hamburger at cookies kitchen in the carpark ..actually went there 6 months ago and saw the $$$ marina and some fish swimming around in the polluted water … oh yeah im 54 now ….Jamie m .

  11. andrew j young July 5, 2020 at 7:05 am #

    We lived in Rothersay Avenue I spent nearly every night at the car park.
    Or cruising jetty road.
    I remember everything.
    I remember when they built the revolting Restaurant, Buffalo and Magic Dog Poo
    The stories I could tell you.
    Although it would involve hours of typing.
    Cookies Kitchen was run by a guy we used to call Hambo and his sidekick Vicki.
    I met my wife in that car park.
    And the cheeseburgers were called Hambo’s

  12. Peter October 31, 2021 at 6:31 pm #

    I remember the vampire looking master at the penny arcade.
    Born in 1955 it was almost an addiction to play those cheat machine back then. Just spend six pennies for a win of four PK chewies ! What a rip off !
    The 22 rifle shot was to expensive to me and the clowns were for the under 10 years old I thought.
    BIT THANKYOU FOR THE reminders !

  13. Peter Johnston June 8, 2022 at 9:03 pm #

    Just called in to this site……..was searching for information regarding a show ride at the Glenelg side shows that was there when I was a kid in the late 60’s…… I lived in Partridge Street and used to hang around the sideshows all the time……there was the Dodgems and the amusements in that building……Hamiltons Bucking Horses…..The Go Karts……The Rifle Range…..All the amusements that curved their way along the esplanade including Laughing Clowns…. Darts….Hoopla ….Spear a Card………and Jacks pinball parlor (Grumpy old bugger) just next to the Donut caravan at the Northern end next to the carpark……there was also the Speed Boat ride in this location……..Now the thing I am trying to follow up is the show ride called the DIVE BOMBER…….that was at the Northern end of the sideshows next to the public toilets by the carpark…(When Burger King was at the bottom of the carpark by the beach)……..I have searched online but cant find any info re this ride……..I can remember that this ride was extreme and caused riders to vomit and scream with terror…….it was moved to the Royal Adelaide Show one year and it crashed causing death (to the best of my memory)………does anyone remember this ride at the Bay and where is further information available…..The recent news regarding unsafe amusement rides has sparked my interest in these matters and I wonder if we have moved forward in the last 50 years…….

    • Lynette Best January 6, 2024 at 2:51 pm #

      I am also seeking information on the speed boat ride. I would like to know who the operators were in the mid 60s.
      I am also finding it hard to gain information about the rides. There seems to have been no records kept, only peoples memories.


      Lynette Best

  14. Cheryl A November 30, 2022 at 7:01 pm #

    I remember catching the train down with cousins as a child,the beautiful water and Jetty st..lying in the park after a swim….and the burger place on Anzac highway,bliss….

  15. John Sanders February 25, 2023 at 3:53 pm #

    Only visted Glenelg a few times on weekend leave from Woodside camp around ’67 & ’69. I was wondering if anyone recalls whether or not the sideshows and like entertainments were operating all through the day or was it an evening thing. Also interested if Wenzel’s bakery, cnr Jetty Rd Road & Moseley St. was well frequented around 1966 when the kiddies went missing and whether nearby breezeway opposite Alexander flats through to Milton St.funtioned as a handy shortcut from the bus stop to the Catholic school or residential areas south.towards Somerton Park.

    • Lynette Best January 6, 2024 at 2:58 pm #

      They operated during the day during holidays. They were operating the day the BC were abducted. Wenzels was a very popular bakery.

      Do you have an interest in The Beaumont Children case?
      Feel free to email me.

  16. Lynette Best January 6, 2024 at 2:53 pm #

    Hi Jenny, I have just read your post. Do you remember who operated motor boats at Glenelg in the 60s?
    I have been trying everywhere to find this information.

    Regards Lynette Best

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