Top Menu

Marion Shopping Centre. The Early Years.

Westfield Marion was one of Adelaide’s first suburban shopping centres, built in 1968 on a large expanse of land bordered by Sturt, Diagonal and Morphett Roads,

Marion was not the huge, very modern, state-of-the-art shopping centre that we know today. In fact back in the early years it was a relatively small complex that I always felt had a wonderfully strong sense of community

I vividly recall the old entertainment area, the Quarter Deck, where any promotions for the centre were presented, and as a young radio announcer at 5AD, we were often called on to compere various events on stage there, ranging from fashion parades to pop groups .

John Martin’s store was the main department store in those early years and many people still remember the old shopping centre with fond memories.

Photo from Glen H  Flickr Photostream. Marion Shopping Centre in 1974 with the escalators to the Quaterdeck and John Martin's Department Store

Photo from Glen H Flickr Photostream. Marion Shopping Centre in 1974 with the escalators to the Quaterdeck and John Martin’s Department Store

When I posted the photo above last year on the Adelaide Remember When Facebook website, it created an enormous response from those who recalled the early days of Marion Shopping Centre, comments also were posted about how it has changed so much in the past 5 decades and memories of some of the old stores and shops.

Kerrianne Springford remembered how her school band at Mitchell Park High School performed concerts there with their baton twirlers every Christmas. “The Quarterdeck at the top of the escalators had back-lit wall panels embedded with sand and shells and bubbles. Netting and glass floats hung from the ceilings and very basic food outlets sat around the edges of the area, fish and chips, sandwiches, roasts etc, not a sushi, pappadum or Maccas in sight.

She also remembered the florist on the corner to the right beyond the escalator; “and the pet shop next door tucked in the corner. There was Witchery and Sussan’s on the opposite corner. And of course, John Martins on the ground- floor. Thank you so much for bringing back my childhood. So many memories in just one small photo.

Shaun Bruce also remembered those less complicated times; “Who remembers the cocky out the front of the pet shop. Ahhh simpler days! You could even drink a beer on the stage in the centre and the quaterdeck restaurant provided great value. On a Saturday afternoon and on a Sunday the car park often hosted dads and mums teaching kids parking skills, and then there was the old robo car wash at the corner of Diagonal and Sturt road, you could push start the thing. Soo many memories of that place when it was a community place.”

Claire Thomas worked at Johnnies in Marion from 1978-82; “I lived in walking distance to Marion Shopping Centre. There is still a memory of JM’s at Marion, something special that most people are unaware of. I will let you find it if you ever shop or visit there. I have shown it my kids, the next generation.”

Great memories indeed. The comment about learning to drive in the car park will strike a chord with lots of people. Back then you didn’t pay anyone to teach your kids to drive, you took them to Marion Shopping car park!

What are your earliest memories of Marion Shopping Centre from that era?

44 Responses to Marion Shopping Centre. The Early Years.

  1. Sue Smith December 4, 2014 at 6:27 pm #

    I remember Pinocchio’s Coffee Shop with its marvellous bacon, banana and walnut sandwiches.
    Also, the chemist shop on the corner opposite the down escalator, the little craft/haberdashery shop opposite the coffee shop. The ‘exotic’ Benson & Hedges and Peter Stuyvesant girls handing out cigarettes AND lighting them and last but certainly not least – the Johnnies Cafeteria!
    ah the good old days!!

    • Michael Mosca June 25, 2016 at 9:05 pm #

      Yes, I remember that very fondly

  2. Lachy December 4, 2014 at 6:53 pm #

    There was some kind of mural with circles above the elevators?

  3. Lyndlee December 4, 2014 at 9:26 pm #

    If I remember correctly, there was put put golf out the back which I presume was on Morphett Road. There was also a movie theatre where the Commonwealth Bank is and a gym where I tried to get myself thin and sexy for my wedding in 1980 in the location where the Kathmandu is now located. And the Quarter Deck was such a novel place to eat, all decked out in marine themes.

    • Glenn October 11, 2016 at 12:26 pm #

      I think the Putt putt was on the site of the Pizza hut in later times – not even sure if that’s there now

      • Wil June 18, 2017 at 6:29 pm #

        I played Put Put thereon holidays.

  4. Sarah Clarky December 4, 2014 at 11:21 pm #

    The photos you show are so amazing. Amazing because so many of them return me to a time of my life where I was truly happy. Thank you

  5. sarah December 5, 2014 at 9:40 am #

    I remember those chrome ball things hanging from the cieling. They turned very slowly and over the years they stopped working until only one worked and then they took them down. I wonder if someone has them storded some place to be uncovered in 50 years an put in an art gallery.

  6. Beth December 5, 2014 at 4:42 pm #

    I worked at Johnnies 1980-1981 in Menswear. I also remember when it was built (around 1969) I was 6. Dad had to explain what a shopping centre was. In the mid 70s, I remember going to the ‘flicks’ for 75c and seeing the standard ‘double feature’ on a Saturday afternoon.

  7. Lauren December 5, 2014 at 9:31 pm #

    Great memories of the Balls, and Combine dance awesome fun. John Farnham Bev Harrell, Coffee shop Pinocchio Ifelt so sophisticated, having a cigarette there and Mums friend was working there, my sister and I put the cigs out so quick!! The florist shop on the corner mentioned earlier was “Nonies” knew her from St John Ambulance cadets Marion. Gabbys craft shop down near John Martins. I had casual job at the Continental shop ?Dinos opposite fruit &veg shop. Dr Zhivago at the movie theatre….Omar Shariff….mmmmm. And before Marion paddock weeds to walk to Oaklands Primary. Thanks for walk down memory lane

  8. Allison Bullen December 5, 2014 at 11:11 pm #

    My dad Barry Bullen was centre manager there for years..I practically grew up there. Worked there. Met heaps of famous people (Young talent time,Jason Donavon , early neighbors cast etc), got caught by dad’s secretary smoking in the john martins and yes you were aloud to in those days and hanging out st hungry jacks… Oh those were the days

  9. Tony December 6, 2014 at 10:31 am #

    Fantastic memories. Loved Pinoccio’s – mum always let us have a toasted sandwich as a treat (probably to shut us up), Quarterdeck, the hot dog shop near the entrance, great decor and the floor tiles – very distinctive designs. Love it

    • Michael Mosca June 25, 2016 at 9:06 pm #

      I remember having a toasted cheese sandwich at Pinocchio’s every Saturday. Yum

  10. Julie December 7, 2014 at 9:30 pm #

    I remember they cleared the Quarterdeck and held a disco there on Saturday nights so much fun

  11. Brenton December 8, 2014 at 5:13 pm #

    There was an ice cream outlet at the door of Johnnies, and I would get a black licorice cone if I was a good boy shopping with mum. And I would try to follow those designs in the floor tiles, doubling back and forth, much to mum’s disgust (and sometimes at the cost of that ice cream 🙂

  12. Maria December 8, 2014 at 10:35 pm #

    I remember the dentist up the escalators on the opposite side of the Quarterdeck. I also remember where the shopping centre finished at the opposite end of the escalators and it was really very small compared to today. There was a pool in the fitness centre (as someone else mentioned) and I used to like to try to catch a glimpse of it as we walked past. Thank you for the jog to my memory that would otherwise have laid dormant.

  13. julie mcmahon December 13, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    My mother took my son and his cousin there back in the 70’s. They found the emergency stop button on the escalator and pressed it!! She was mortified.

  14. Eddie Stone December 15, 2014 at 9:18 pm #

    I remember going to the Theatre Marion back in the 70’s. We needed a pass-out ticket so we could get cheaper ice creams at the small shop where Kathmandu is now (I think).
    cheers ,
    Eddie

  15. Barbara Cudbertson December 18, 2014 at 7:40 pm #

    I remember the playground between John Martins and Myer which was open air!! Neil Kerley came with some of the Glenelg Football team, headed by a very young Graham Cornes and did a demo of marking etc etc. Very funny when i think back. Yes, definitely the gym, i remember my girlfriend getting pregnant at 17, and we rode for hours on the excercise bikes, went from sauna to cold swimming pool in a vain attempt to change the situation (didnt work!!!). Hahaha very funny. The gym became the movie theatre, and i remember going to see Woodstock there …
    Cheers
    Barbara

  16. Nicole Wheatland December 31, 2014 at 8:25 am #

    Wow so many childhood memories above!!!!!! Who remembers Granny May’s???? It was one of my favourite shops growing up

  17. Joanna Goldsworthy March 19, 2015 at 8:09 am #

    ‘The Marion’ …. we were always going to ‘the Marion’ (Now Westfield Marion) or ‘the Market’ (Central Market) …. Oh dear little Adelaide – how the World has exploited us since 1968 …. Luckily we have probably come off WAY BETTER than Anywhere Else … probably because of Our Utopian, Egalitarian, Hanoverian Origins —- Now to get ‘Peace on Earth Forevermore’ from Adelaide – Balance & Harmony.

  18. Astrid July 1, 2015 at 7:48 pm #

    Marion Shopping Centre was around the corner from my grandmothers where I or my sisters would be parked for the weekend. Nana had grown up in Europe and was always going on about the quality of things in Australia being not as good as what she was used too!!.
    One thing she always did was go to the Continental deli at Marion and buy particular things like Blue Mountain coffee and unsalted butter. She was a very good cook and seamstress so we were always trawling through the department stores for fabric bargains too.

  19. Fish July 4, 2015 at 7:43 pm #

    I would’ve been about 10 years old and was with my elder brother going up those escalators ( approx ’74 ) . My foot got sucked into the side of the escalator and the emergency stop was pressed. There was such a cufuffall ha ha , This was the catalyst for the yellow lines which were then put on all the escalator steps. I also used to ride my bike through the entrance where Manuals’ Fish Shop and The Dog Inn was through the middle and out the other side to go to school at Oaklands Primary…………..couple of the Hot Dogs were called The Bashful Basset, Plush Poodle,Cha Wa Wa and were all numbered , loved the cheese and onion sauce. The Gym was called Lifestyle and was owned by David Hookes and Neville Roberts

  20. Alison July 14, 2015 at 3:28 pm #

    Does anyone remember the name of the furniture store in Marion all those years ago?? It has been annoying my mother for decades that she can’t remember the name of it

  21. Karen August 2, 2015 at 8:20 am #

    My mum worked at the Hindmarsh Building Society back then and reading all the replies brought back great memories of the hotdog shop which i attended regulary, the pet shop which i did work experience in and the other shops over the past 🙂 driving lessons at Marion were the best! The quarter deck and hanging out at HJ’s with friends and smoking!!

  22. Zoe February 5, 2016 at 7:14 pm #

    I remember a small white table with four seats and a pile of lego on it for children to play with just outside the internal entrance to Myers. I always wanted to stop and play with it but my mum would always hurry me past so she could go and get the shopping done. Also remember looking longingly at all the lovely toys in Steele’s Toyshop on the corner next to Myers.

  23. Zoe February 18, 2016 at 3:31 pm #

    Has anyone found the memory of Johnnies that Claire Thomas mentioned? I’ve looked but I can’t find anything. Any clues?

  24. Michael May 27, 2016 at 7:29 pm #

    My Dad worked in, and eventually became Manager of the Turner’s Butcher shop on the ground floor from approximately 1968 into the early 70s. So many of my earliest childhood memories were formed there. Mum used to take us down to visit Dad, we would walk into the shop and Dad would come out in his apron and slice off a bit off fritz for my brother and I, often she would take us to Pinoccio’s for a milkshake and toasted sandwich. My first cinema experience was also there, Mum took me to see The Sound of Music and Born Free. I remember the Quarterdeck, Mum took my little Brother and I up there once to watch the Channel Niners Club show where Patsy Biscoe and Humphrey B Bear were performing on stage – there is an old photo somewhere of my Brother and I sporting our Channel Niners T-shirts that we were given that day. The stop button on the escalators must have been a continual source of annoyance for the mall managers, as my Brother (along with other posters here) managed to locate the button and made a beeline for it every time we went to the mall. There was the ice cream shop with a rainbow of different coloured ice creams on display – my favourite was the bright blue bubble gum in a single cone.The first time I ever caught a bus alone, my Mum put me on the Henstridge bus at the Monroe Wylie factory on South Rd (we lived opposite, I would have been around 4 years old), and Dad was waiting for me at the other end out the front of Marion. I learned to ride a bicycle in the car park out the back near to Lloyds Hardware on Sunday mornings, Dad took me down there with the pushy in the back of our Wolseley 24/80 and kept an eye on me whilst I practiced in the deserted car park. Looking back at the photos, with those wonderful light fittings and wood panels in the roof, it was a nice looking mall.

  25. Gaby June 20, 2016 at 12:32 am #

    The Twin Cinema was there before the gym I think, matinees for children were held on Saturdays in the early days. There was a store to the right of the elevator that sold homewares from Europe, perhaps Domus? The continental store was Con’s, a godsend for the Europeans, and I recall the health food store where you could bring your own container to buy honey. The fabric store near the centre, and Lasscock’s garden centre. I grew up close by, and remember all of the excitement at Marion Shopping Centre being built. And we still call it Marion Shopping Centre today!

  26. Graeme October 28, 2016 at 5:17 pm #

    When I was young I vividly remember an old house in the middle of the car park at Marion Shopping Centre. On Sturt Road about half way between the intersection of Morphett and Diagonal Road.

    As I recall the little old lady refused to sell up when Marion was first developed and as her land was only required for car parking they could not evict her. Eventually she passed away, the house was bulldozed and converted to additional car parks. Although said car park spaces now form part of the massive south western expansion to the shopping centre.

    While I vividly remember the house I am struggling to put a timeline on when it was finally demolished. My guess is sometime between 1980 and 1990.

    Does anyone else recall this old house and if so when it finally went?

    • Rebecca January 18, 2018 at 10:02 am #

      Yes, I remember that house also. I think it was in the early 90’s that it was demolished

  27. Elaine October 30, 2016 at 11:00 pm #

    I’m trying to find where mum and dad took me to child care while they went shopping. One of those places had a blue whale in the child care out side. It was large and kids could play inside it.
    I only went to two places….Marion or the city in one of the big department stores.
    There were only two cinemas back then.
    Does any one remember a child care facility with a play area and Blue whale?

    • Steve August 3, 2017 at 11:34 pm #

      I remember the blue whale Elaine. It was very early on in the centres history maybe ’72 or ’73. So glad ypu mentioned it no one else seems to recall it but I remember it and a sand pit play area. Thanks

      • chris May 21, 2018 at 11:43 pm #

        I remember it also! I’ve just searched the entire internet and apparently we are the only
        3 people to remember or mention it. Would love to see a picture of it. I remember it as a child a bit later, probably late 70’s.

  28. Chris February 10, 2017 at 2:37 pm #

    Hi,
    My very first job was at Myer, Marion 1968-69 in Childrens Shoes, I was 16,
    later moving down to Ladies shoes. Got paid the huge sum of $11.37/wk It was a very exciting time, getting all the stock ready in preparation for the grand Opening. We used to walk along the Mall during lunch and watch all the small stores getting fitted out in readiness. As a Teenager, Witchery was my favourite. Eating at the Quarterdeck on payday.
    It is awesome to see so many notes from people remembering days done by.

  29. kazz March 27, 2017 at 11:09 pm #

    HI. i recall a jingle for Marion from my childhood, cant find it or anyone yet who remembers it…

    my recollection is that it goes like this….

    “oh marion, oh marion, means more for you and me
    John Martins, Myers and Woolworths and more variety
    parking free and easy far away from city stores
    if you dont know where i am…you can guess. My my
    so gay, so bright Marion……
    even little children love Marion……

    is this a false memory…anyone?

  30. steve frazer July 2, 2017 at 3:37 pm #

    Campbells newsagency is one shop I remember as I use to get my poster sheet for school projects from there and there was the guy selling newspapers near the escalators,brendan I think his name was ,but the strangest thing is I live in The Quarterdeck in Perth that’s weird ,same name as the food court.

  31. steve frazer July 9, 2017 at 8:16 pm #

    Thinking back to 1974 I can also remember those wonderful balfours chocolate iced donuts from the shop down near woolworths I think it may have been a bakery of some sort,the heading up towards the newsagency their was a narrow shop just before it where they use to sell hot chickens and stuff I remember this because the girl who worked there was drop dead gorgeous especially to a 16 yr old at the time,and up top near the quarterdeck was the dreaded dentist ,I can remember buying a pair of bata scout shoes with the animal tracks and a compass in the shoe where your heel went they were at the time really groovy.
    yes the original picture theatre out back ,sunday afternoons and they would play Christopher lee and the Dracula movies and the odd doco.
    There was a record shop down on the right hand side just before you got to Myers I havent been back to Adelaide since 1978 so it would of all changed.
    There was a toy shop down the other end cant remember the name we bought Cookie Cucumber and Mr Potato Head as presents for my younger brother that’s about all I can recall,hope to get back 4 a visit one day.

  32. Jan collins November 24, 2017 at 7:21 pm #

    Can remember the quarterdeck( top of escalators) converted to dance area with live bands including the valentines ,twilights, Russell Morris,masters apprentices.usually finishing about 12-12.30 and sometimes till 2 in the morning when the bigger known bands were performing and the downstairs would be opened up for dancing as well.Marion shopping centre was the go to place for teenagers to hang out and often had events at the bottom of the escalators,we would all hang around the stage and all around the top looking down,this was in the sixties and early seventies,great memories!!Met my husband there and we are still married!

  33. Paul Magin November 30, 2017 at 6:50 pm #

    Hello, What a great surprise seeing this site. I was at Johnnies when it opened in February 1968 and can you believe that it will be 50 next February. Opening day was just huge and it was fantastic as the Centre came into operation. One of my duties was to put up and take down the flags on the Johnnies rooftop and it has a great view.

    There were plenty of people around my age and there were plenty of fun times such as cabarets and balls, picnics, car rallies and football matches between us and the other stores.

    I still recall those times fondly and although I now live interstate I still remember those times vividly.

    If any of the old crew want to say hello, would love to hear from you.

    Paul

  34. steve frazer January 30, 2018 at 8:46 pm #

    Yes I vaguely remember the little old house now that you mention it ,use to go to the fish and chip shop on Saturday night didn’t recall the name of it until it was mentioned but I can clearly remember the faces of the father and son I presumed that worked there ;out the back of the shops was Allan s record bar cause I still have the album I bought there Just Zoot with the late Darryl Cotton and the boys RIP Dazza.
    Pioneer Youth Group which was on the corner of Sturt and Morphett Road and next door was the Pittman Public Library as it was called then even remember my gym instructors name Chris Sargent, hello Chris !! if you are still with us
    Doug Openshaw opened a heated pool heading up Morphett Road any one know if it still exists ?
    Marion Shops what a great skateboard area when it opened on my old surfer sam board,shame we didn’t have cam corders back then.

  35. Veronica Howard April 7, 2018 at 9:14 pm #

    How many cinemas were at Marion when it was located where the commonwealth bank is now? Also which company owned them?

  36. Sharon Smith April 7, 2018 at 11:40 pm #

    Does anyone remember the juice bar? On the back wall behind the counter there were big containers stirring different flavours of juice drinks. I think this might have been where you could also get the Dagwood Hot Dogs.
    I worked at Jeremy’s Card and Gift shop. My first part time job while I was still at school, I worked Thursday nights and Saturday mornings. At Christmas time we had a stall set up in the mall with free gift wrapping. I loved the record store. Not sure if it was called CC Records and later on Brash’s.
    I also went to the Dentist upstairs opposite Quarterdeck. Dr Rugless was my dentist, I’ll never forget when he said I needed to have braces fitted.
    Also loved going to the ‘Pictures’ and Pinnochio’s.

  37. Emily August 8, 2018 at 7:32 pm #

    Does anybody remember a shop called “heat”? and there was a cage on the second floor with a girl usually dancing in it? it was a rave / street wear clothing store? that was where the universal store is now.
    And also a mcdonalds opposite marion hair & beauty? it was fairly big and i swear there was a playground in it also..was all indoors! :O oh i wish we could go back to the 90s!

Leave a Reply