So, I went on a photo-hunt for scenes of Glenelg. Yes, this particular day, the Swiss relatives toured Glenelg as well as shopping. Glenelg, a must for the tourist visiting Adelaide. The beach with its white sands, the jetty, the dolphins bounding in the turquoise water, the antique trams, the historic town hall, and the obelisk monument to the first ship of free settlers. I should have a few photos from my life spent at Glenelg.
I rifled through old photos, wasted an hour and found…nothing. Lots of beaches: Brighton, Moana, Victor Harbour, even St. Malo, France, but no Glenelg. I did find some recent digital photos, though.
I guess that’s how it is with one’s local stamping ground. I grew up in Somerton Park which is about a ten-minute bike-ride from Glenelg. Even today, though I live in the Adelaide foothills, I go to Glenelg to shop, have coffee with Mum, and many times I drive through Glenelg on my way up north to Salisbury, or to the Barossa.
So, while tourists snap their memories of Glenelg frozen in time, for me images of my childhood and grown-up years remain fluid, layers in my head and marinated with the changes and experiences over the decades. Glenelg has changed; the land/seascape of my memories unrecognisable as the shops, the trams, the jetty and the coastline shift and develop. Although some places have changed, some have stayed the same.
Gone: The Gift Store
At the tender age of one-year-old, I committed my first (and only) criminal offense at this shop; a five-finger discount of a face-washer. Mum caught me in time, and blushing, returned the stolen item, replacing it on the shelf before anyone noticed.
The gift store, a favourite of mine, provided birthday presents for me to buy for friends and knick-knacks with my pocket money.
[P1 Sea Mist]
Gone: The Historic Cinemas
One with its red carpet, sweeping staircase and chandeliers. It’s a Woolworths complex now. Many happy moments with family and friends watching movies, eating popcorn and occasionally rolling Jaffa’s down the carpeted aisle.
The other, halfway down Jetty Road towards the sea, disappeared in the 1980’s. I remember watching the film Heidi there, and before the movie started, the pre-film entertainer conducted a singing competition. My friend won first prize.
That cinema space became a mini shopping mall which, as a university student, I mopped every Saturday morning for $12. Today, a restaurant resides in that space.
After several years bereft of cinematic entertainment, a new cinema complex has been built off Partridge Street.
Gone: Tom the Cheaper Grocer
While Mum shopped at Toms the Grocer on Mosely Square, my brother and I hung out near the sea wall by the jetty. I loved winter when the waves crashed against the wall. Toms was sold off decades ago and today the old building houses cafés and restaurants.
[P2 Waves crashing]
Gone: Charlies Café
At three, I crawled under the table at Charlies Café and my auntie uninvited me to her wedding reception.
When sixteen, we dined at Charlies as a youth group. The guy I was dating didn’t show. After the supper, near tears from being stood up, I waited with my friends for this guy to arrive and drive us home. There were not enough cars amongst the group to drive us all. In a flash, this guy appeared in his silver car. He glanced at us and then kept on driving down Jetty Road.
My brother had to make two trips to carry us all safely home.
Charlies is long gone. So’s that guy. I dropped him.
As my friend from Youth Group was fond of saying, ‘Thank God somethings stay the same.’
[P3 On the Jetty ]
Still There: Glenelg Jetty
At least an updated and cemented version from one of many over the years of storms that regularly destroy the jetty. Each time the jetty is damaged by a “storm of the century”, it’s repaired or another one is built to maintain that steady icon that makes Glenelg.
Still There: Moseley Square
Tarted up over the decades, today with tall palms and water-features. The shops, cafés and restaurants that line jetty road leading up to Moseley Square, though they change, they are still there and most importantly for the tourists, are open Sundays and public holidays.
[P4 Sunset over Sea, Jetty and Lawns]
Still There: Some Sort of Amusement Park
That’s why we go to Glenelg, right? A famous dating place or hang-out for youth. In my teenage years, I followed my date around the games arcade as he sampled all the pinball machines. Yawn!
A friend sourced the sideshow for lovers and got herself into “trouble”.
Memories of parking in the carpark in the early morning under the inert Ferris Wheel, and furtive romantic moments before the inevitable knock on the window by the local policeman.
Over the years, the sideshow alley vanished, but still near the carpark at the end of Anzac Highway, the Ferris Wheel sat idle, a skeleton of its light-garnished self. Then this carpark turned into a round-about, high-rise apartments grew along the foreshore, and the sideshow morphed into a massive brown lump called “The Magic Mountain”.
My sons enjoyed birthday parties in this mountain’s cave, chasing Pokemon, bumping in floating boats, and slipping down the waterslide.
Then the “Magic Mountain” went off, replaced by “The Beach house”. Same amusements as before without the “magic” of the mountain. The Ferris Wheel now sits in front of “The Beach house”.
[P 5 Boat Bumping at Beach House]
Still there: The Beach
Ever faithful, ever beautiful, the setting to summers filled with family teas by the beach on the lawns, fish ‘n chips with soft drink or cheese and gherkin sandwiches with cordial. Grandparents busy themselves with crossword puzzles while Mums and Dads swim in the waves with kids by the jetty. Then after, while sitting and licking an ice-cream, families watch the sun bulge bright orange as it sinks below the horizon of sea, overhead in the cloudless sky, a plane from Perth streaks a jet-stream, and on the water, a sailboat full of happy passengers drifts past.
And people, who walk the boardwalk, play on the sand, and frolic in the water, on a balmy summer’s evening, beam with smiles on their faces. This is the constant memory, through the decades of changes, this is the memory that stays with me of Glenelg.
© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2017
Feature Photo: Glenelg Beach Balmy summer eve © Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2005
Photos: 1. Sea Mist on Walkway © Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2012
2. Waves Crashing near Broadway © Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2016
3. On the Jetty © Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2010
4. Sunset over Sea, Jetty and lawns (c) Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2011
5. Boat Bumping at Beach House © Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2010
6. Sunset © Anthony Kling 2005