Adelaide loves a good party, and wherever you find competition and racing you can usually find a party. Think Oakbank and the Melbourne Cup. The Tour Down Under. And of course the legendary parties during the Australian Grand Prix in Adelaide in the 90's.
Unley Soapbox Derby, Cross Road Fullarton 1941 (Image: State Library SA B7798/542)
It's nothing new though, even a soapbox derby in 1941 attracted 15,000 spectators. Over 100 contestants raced down Cross Road from the old gum tree to Fullarton Road at speeds up to 70km/h, while a support crew of 1000 worked behind the scenes. Our tastes must have become more sophisticated, because the derbies disappeared in the 1950's.
The Birdman Rally Adelaide in 1980 (Image: Xaragmata)
Fast forward to the zany Birdman Rallies at Glenelg in the 1970's when huge crowds turned out to watch contestants try to fly 50 metres unassisted and win a $10,000 prize. The Milk Carton Regatta in the 80's was just as popular - and most contestants got just as wet - until the public liability insurance problems froze them.
Lost and Abandoned Amusement Parks
Magic Mountain at Glenelg (Image: AtD on Wikipedia)
When it comes to attractions in Adelaide that have now gone, we really miss our amusement parks. Nostalgia pages on Facebook regularly revisit the dizzy heights of Dazzleland in the Myer Centre, Magic Mountain at Glenelg, and the Ferris wheel on top of the Cox Foys building. I wonder if they were as popular when they were still open?
Luna Park Glenelg 1930 (Image: State Library SA B7477)
Luna Park at Glenelg must have been an amazing sight when it opened in 1930 with a crowd of tens of thousands, but it only lasted about five years before being relocated to Sydney. It seems we didn't have the numbers to support it.
The closing of Puzzle Park is still mourned by many. Another victim of the rising cost of public liability insurance, the rusty remains of Puzzle Park still lie in solitary silent splendour.
Forgotten Theatres and Cinemas in Adelaide
Colonel Light Gardens Picture Theatre
Theatres and cinemas in Adelaide were once major community hubs, but the arrival of TV and videos changed that forever. Picture theatres around South Australia were transformed into supermarkets and shops, but you can still see signs of their original purpose if you look.
The Colonel Light Gardens Picture Theatre could seat nearly 2,000 people and drew many locals to its matinee and evening sessions. It even hosted future Prime Ministers during the 1941 election campaign, and a tram stop right outside made going to the movies a breeze. Today it's just a chemist shop.
We've had a passionate love affair with motor racing in South Australia. The last Australian Grand Prix before World War 2 was held at Lobethal in the Adelaide hills in 1939: watch a documentary including actual race footage here. The Lobethal track was also used for motor cycle racing until the government banned street racing in 1948, although some would say that the tradition continues.
Jack Brabham fairly flew around the Port Wakefield circuit in a Bristol powered Cooper T40 to win his first Australian Grand Prix in 1955. Could this have been the most fun Port Wakefield has ever seen?
The Formula 1 Grand Prix is another of the lost attractions in South Australia, but at least we can console ourselves with the Clipsal 500 to keep our adrenalin racing.
Museums in South Australia have popped up in quite unexpected places over the years. The Beach Museum at Brighton was run by Dr Torr in 1938 and held a collection of Chiton molluscs collected at Marino Rocks. Shell Land at Glenelg seems to have solely shown shells, but both museums have now disappeared without trace.
Rowley's Waxwork Museum popped up at the Bijou Theatre for a period in 1898, with wax figures of the royal family and notorious criminals - an interesting combination. War museums also appeared regularly in country areas after World War 1, including at Mount Gambier and Wallaroo.
Bijou Theatre, King William Street 1892 (Image: State Library SA B13272)
That Radium Hill show would have used film in 16mm size. Operated by the local school or church, or by a travelling showman, 16mm was how films reached small country locations. Out in the donga in 1951, there was even a 16mm show at Athelstone!
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There were two cinemas in Prospect Road central, with another down in Kilburn and a big one up in Main North Road.
These days, we should take note of the variety of programs, mainstream and oddball, new release or vintage, at the Mercury Cinema, 11 Morphett st, City. Friday morning Seniors shows there are very popular.