Way back when, Wednesdays

A leisurely Sunday at your library

Sunday at the Library

Bestselling author Amy Tan has been quoted as saying that “Libraries are the pride of the City.” http://www.azquotes.com/author/14434-Amy_Tan There is also a proverb that says that a Sunday well spent brings a week of content. Sundays can be a chance to relax, read, put on some music, spend time with family and just enjoy yourself. Which is why many people visit their local library. On 7 February 1979, the North East Leader, a Messenger Newspaper, printed an article that focused on the success of opening the City of Tea Tree Gully Library on Sunday. We also learn from the article about the popularity of the library at North East Road and how much it had to offer patrons.  The Messenger story provides modern readers with a snapshot of this era and we can see how some things have changed.

In 1979 the Library was situated at 1020 North East Road, which is now the site of the Tea Tree Plus shopping centre. The Library was housed in a modern building, which opened in 1975, adjacent to, and constructed in the same mid-century modern architectural style as the Tea Tree Gully Civic Centre. The Council building had opened in 1967.


PH03979 Facade of Library

The Library at 1020 North East Road Modbury. Image: Community History Photograph Collection, Tea Tree Gully Library. PH03979


Most public libraries in South Australia did not open on Sundays until the late 1980s/early 1990s. In the Messenger article the Chief Council Librarian Felicity Langeveldt stated that opening Sundays had been successful because it was a convenient days for residents to use the Library service but also that many of them took advantage of using the listening posts.

In an era where listening to your favourite songs was not simply a matter of downloading music from iTunes or Google Play, the residents of the City of Tea Tree Gully congregated at the Library to put on headphones and sit around a listening station. It would be interesting to find out if you played vinyl records or audio cassettes. Now we can borrow CDs to play at home or in the car. Or you can login to a computer at the Library to play CDs or listen to UTube.



PH01012 Official opening of the Library at North East Road.

Opening of the Library on North East Road, Modbury in 1975,
photograph PH01012.


Sundays continue to be a popular time to visit the Library. In 2017 there was an average of 521 people coming through the door each Sunday (door counts varied from 395 to 625). Our members still love reading and using the City of Tea Tree Gully Library service. The Library remains a community hub and our collections have grown considerably in size and type since 1979! We have approximately 64,000 books for adults, 25000 for children and adolescents, 4,500 magazines and 17,000 audio visual materials (this includes DVDs, CDs and audiobooks). You can now also access audio and ebooks and take advantage of approximately 4 million items through the SA Public Libraries One Card Network.

In 2017 the Library lent out an average of 73,210 items per month. In December loans totalled 53,273, December being our quietest month and the Civic Centre was closed over the Christmas holiday period. Today, most people search for information online as well as going to a public library. Or they can stream web based entertainment.
Thirty-nine years have elapsed since the date of the Messenger article. So if you think about it, the Tea Tree Gully Library must have been a very busy place, lending out 46,624 items way back in December 1979!


Way back when, Wednesdays

History in pictures

If you are driving along Montague Road at Modbury you might notice a very large, distinctive mural painted on the wall of the Karadinga Recreation Centre, which is situated opposite the City of Tea Tree Gully Civic Centre. Formerly a YMCA facility, Karadinga is now run by the Uniting Church of Australia. According to the Karadinga Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/Karadinga-Sports-and-Recreation, its name is a corruption of the Kaurna name for the Modbury area ‘Kirra ung dinga’. This means “the place where the red gums grow by the creek”.

IMG_4520 Mural

So what is this artwork about and who is responsible for its creation?

The Karadinga mural is a visual record of our local history since European settlement. On page 28 of the edition dated 28 January 1987, the Leader Messenger reported on the mural, which had been completed in December 1986.  It was painted to commemorate the Centre’s tenth birthday and the 150 years since the State of South Australia was founded. The project was designed by artist Stefan Twaine-Wood and subsidised by the State Government and Watyl Paints. School children and members of the local community helped to paint the mural.

Karadinga mural article

Karadinga mural with children

The mural takes us across time in its depiction of local icons, which are based on historical photographs. The City of Tea Tree Gully area is painted as being expansive, verdant and fertile. In the foreground, Tea Tree Gully’s farming heritage is celebrated. The image on the left of the mural is taken from a 1910 photograph. Behind the hay paddocks are the Tea Tree Gully Hotel (circa 1886) and to the right, the Greenwith Methodist Church, built in 1863.

In the background, we can see a representation of the Hope Valley Reservoir, constructed between from 1869 to 1861. Behind the reservoir are the more modern edifices of Tea Tree Plaza (which opened in 1970) and the Modbury Hospital (which was opened in 1973) alongside the former nurse’s home (now operating as the Torrens Valley Institute student residence).

Behind all of these works of human history lies the timeless beauty of the bush and the hills of the Mt. Lofty Ranges. Overhead, the mural features a huge sprig of the native tea-tree, the popular name for Leptospermum lanigerum, after which the suburb and the City of Tea Tree Gully were named. It is said that when the first colonists arrived, after being so long at sea, they were delighted on seeing beautiful thick growth of the tea-tree growing over and covering the bed of the River Torrens, (Page 118, Settlement to City, third edition, Auhl, Ian, 1993). It is reputated that they used the plant to brew a tea, (Page 6, Tea Tree Gully Sketchbook, Auhl, Ian and Millstead, Rex, Adelaide, 1975).

If you would like to find out more about our local history why not reserve these books online or enquire next time you visit the Library?


Way back when, Wednesdays

A bigger, better library

In its first incarnation, the Tea Tree Gully Library was a bookmobile. The ‘Municipal Library’ began operating in June 1965. It was a bus that serviced the local community by visiting locations around the local district, Inglewood and Houghton, such as shopping centres, the Council Civic Centre, schools and the Highbury hotel. At this time, Tea Tree Gully had a population of approximately 16,000 residents scattered over an area of 55 square miles. By 1968 the population had increased to 27,000 and Tea Tree Gully had officially been declared a City. The Library’s book stock and the number of borrowers had also increased substantially, making conditions cramped inside the mobile library. Due to its age and poor mechanical condition the bus had to be retired.

Public Library

So the official opening of a new public library made front page news in the North East Leader, a Messenger newspaper on 5 March 1969. The Library was housed in the building which was formerly the Modbury Primary School and headmaster’s cottage, which is now designated as 561 Montague Road, Modbury. It was small compared with our modern library facilities but it had high ceilings, fireplaces and was of solid construction. However, I recall a former Library staff member who worked in the old building shelving books after school commenting that it was cold and that there were mice!

The North East Leader article provides us with some interesting statistics relating to the amount of book stock held by the Library, the number of loans and membership in 1969. Naturally the demand for library services has increased over time. Since 1969 the Tea Tree Gully Library has serviced the community at three other locations. The Library opened on 17 December 1975 at 1020 North East Road, Modbury, adjacent the former Civic Centre and on 28 July 1991 at 98 Smart Road, Modbury, in a joint-use agreement with the Torrens Valley Institute of TAFE. Things have changed quite a bit since the Tea Tree Gully Library moved to our current premises in the Civic Centre at 571 Montague Road in 2003.

As of September 2017 the City of Tea Tree Gully Library has approximately 118,000 items in stock, including not only books and magazines, but also many audiovisual materials which did not exist in 1969. As part of the One Card Library network we can offer our customers infinitely more choice.   On average, the Library issues 75,000 loans per month. We have 28,500 members who have borrowed in the last three years and we enroll around 266 new people per month.

The heritage listed Modbury School House building has been transformed into the Sfera’s 1877 Restaurant which commenced business in 2004. Sfera’s 1877 Restaurant offers fine dining and serves Italian cuisine.


Way back when, Wednesdays

With strings attached

On page 13 of the edition dated 20 March 1974, the North East Leader Messenger featured a promotion for Ann’s Hobby Shop. Ann’s Hobby Shop used to be situated at the Clovercrest Shopping Centre on Montague Road, Modbury. Ann’s sold craft materials as well as completed projects, such as the work of string art held by Ann Barratt, who is pictured in the photograph.

Hobby gear

During the 1960s, kits and books appeared on the market to help you create string art. It was still a popular pastime for both adults and children in the 1970s. String art was cheap and fun to do.  Basically, you wrap coloured thread, embroidery cotton or wire around a grid of pins or nails in a geometric pattern, to make a picture.   More complex designs feature multiple curves and intersecting circles to produce a kaleidoscopic effect. You can also build up your layers using different colour threads, which is an effective way to draw in the eye of the viewer to your design.

String art has a mathematical origin. At the end of the 19th century, intrepid teacher Mary Everest Boole invented ‘curve stitching’ or string geometry to help get children interested in mathematics, a subject that she loved. Typically designs are modelled on the ‘Bezier’ curve, as the straight lines of strings positioned at slightly different angles intersect. Spirelli stitching, which is another form of string art, is used to decorate cards and other paper crafts.

Today, there is a resurgence of interest in vintage crafts. There are websites devoted to string art design and instruction. Crafters have created a multitude of traditional and new innovative designs and have posted their ideas on Pinterest and YouTube. You can still purchase books and kits or download patterns online.

String art designs




Way back when, Wednesdays

R.O.C.K. in the T.T.P

Have you heard of Johnny Cougar? Tea Tree Plaza advertised the forthcoming appearance of pop star ‘cool cat Johnny Cougar’, on page 18 of the Leader Messenger dated 9 August 1978.

Johnny Cougar

Johnny Cougar and John Cougar were stage names used by Indiana born heartland rock musician and singer-songwriter John Mellencamp, early in his career from 1976 to 1982. Believe it; at the age of 26, John Mellencamp visited Tea Tree Plaza, before he rose to fame internationally. Let us know if you went to Tea Tree Plaza to see him or if you attended the Grease themed ball in Adelaide!

John’s professional music career began in 1976 when he secured a recording contract with MCA Records. The company released his first album, The Chestnut Street Incident, which featured some original compositions and cover versions.

John’s manager insisted that he change his name to Johnny Cougar in the belief that it would be too hard to sell a record by anybody who had a surname like Mellencamp, which reflected John’s German heritage. Eventually John would become successful enough to insist on using his real name.  http://www.mellencamp.com/about.html

During an interview in 2005 John Mellencamp revealed “That (name) was put on me by some manager. I went to New York and everybody said, ‘You sound like a hillbilly.’ And I said, ‘Well, I am.’ So that’s where he came up with that name. I was totally unaware of it until it showed up on the album jacket. When I objected to it, he said, ‘Well, either you’re going to go for it, or we’re not going to put the record out.’ So that was what I had to do… but I thought the name was pretty silly.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Mellencamp


Unfortunately, The Chestnut Street Incident was not a commercial success. MCA Records ended their association with John but supported by Billy Gaff, (who also managed Rod Stewart) he secured a contract with the small Riva Records label. On the advice of his new manager, John moved to England to record his new album A Biography in 1978. He then went on tour to promote it. John had a top ten hit in Australia at this time with I need a Lover. His album A Biography peaked at 19 on the Australian music charts but it was not released in America.


John recorded his successful self-titled album in 1979, Nothin’ Matters and What If It Did in 1980 and American Fool in 1982, under the name John Cougar.  I Need a Lover was included on John Cougar and made it to number 28 on the Billboard Hot 100 in late 1979. US charts. He released Uh-Huh in 1983, Scarecrow in 1985, The Lonesome Jubilee in 1987 and Big Daddy in 1989 using the name John Cougar Mellencamp. John finally dropped the Cougar part of his name with the release of Whenever We Wanted in 1991.


Way back when, Wednesdays

Moonlight flicks in the Valley

Do you remember the Valley Line Drive-in? The Advertiser featured a story on closure of the Valleyline Drive-in Theatre on Tolley Road, St. Agnes, on page 111 of the edition dated Saturday 26 April 2003. After servicing the local area since the 1960s, the Valleyline drive-in closed on Sunday 4 May 2003. The final film to be shown was the comedy Anger Management starring Adam Sandler and Jack Nicholson. The site was sold to the Stratco hardware chain.

Valleyline closure

If you have never experienced a drive-in theatre, you did not have to buy individual tickets to see a film. Customers just paid for the cost of your car, which was more economical for families. You parked in a designated area within view of the big screen and fitted a speaker to your car. Later, sound streamed through the car radio. In summer, it was pleasant to sit outside. Given that many older cars had a bench seat in the front, rather than two bucket seats, you could fit an extra kid in your vehicle!

What are your special memories of the Valleyline and what films did you go and see there? Members of our library staff remember the drive in as being good fun “I took my wife there on our first date” and “People beeped their horns when something ‘juicy’ came on the screen.” Another staff member recalls her brother hiding friends in the boot, to get them into Valleyline. Then they set up chairs to watch the movie. Or “I took my boys and they would lie on the bonnet of the car where it was warm.”


The Valleyline drive-in theatre

Drive-ins made a lot of money from canteen sales. You could purchase drinks and foods such as hotdogs, fish and chips, and even steaks at some locations. Unhealthy snack foods might seem ordinary nowadays but in the 1950s and 1960s a hotdog was very American and pretty cool. Being a family friendly venue, staff would even heat up your baby’s bottle. The canteens generally faced the big screen and were fitted out with speakers so the customers did not miss out on the film. There were also children’s play areas, such as swings situated under the big screen.

In the United States drive-ins had been in existence since the world’s first Automobile Movie Theatre opened way back on 6 June 1933. It took an act of Parliament to bring the drive-in to South Australia. During the second half of 1954, members of the South Australian Parliament debated the controversial Places of Public Entertainment Act Amendment Bill. In an era where people dressed up to go out, some parliamentarians feared that there would be a decline in the standard of dress.  Dressing casually and comfortably while sitting in your car would appeal to families and it was a major selling point for the drive-in theatre. Then there was the issue of safeguarding the morality of South Australia’s young people. Some feared that young couples would behave inappropriately while alone in a darkened car in a public place.  Future Premier Don Dunstan, who was a young man at the time, spoke in support of the bill.

Adelaide became the second Australian city (after Melbourne) to get a drive-in theatre when the Blueline at West Beach opened on 28 December 1954.  Valleyline commenced business on Friday 3 December, 1965 and it could accommodate 383 cars  http://www.campbelltown.sa.gov.au  Records differ as to how may drive-in we had theatres in South Australia at the height of their popularity. The article from the Advertiser states that South Australia used to have 24 drive-ins. According to http://www.drive-insdownunder.com.au/australian/sa_modbury.htm South Australia used to have 37 drive-ins.  The City of Campbelltown website states that there were 15 suburban drive-ins just in Adelaide.

Today, there are only two drive-in theatres left in Adelaide. Wallis Cinemas still run the Mainline Drive-in at Gepps Cross, even after having to make costly repairs to the main building when it was damaged by fire in March this year.  Cooper Pedy also has a drive-in, which is operated by community volunteers.  It is worth noting that outdoor cinema has made a comeback!  Moonlight cinema in Botanic Park is still popular and suburban councils hold film screenings in local parks during the summer.

So what factors brought about the demise of this cultural icon?  When most people had black and white television, going to see a film in colour was a novelty. By the 1980s people could watch films on video at home.  It became socially acceptable to dress casually when you went to the cinema.  While some drive-ins had two screens, new multiplex cinemas opened in suburban Adelaide, offering patrons a greater choice of films that screened concurrently, from morning to evening.  During daylight saving, movies shown outdoors have to start later, which is inconvenient for families with young children. The quality of the picture and sound of a film shown at a drive-in theatre could not compete with a film projected in a modern cinema. For example, the screen would appear darker at the drive-in. As drive-in theatres aged and ticket sales fell, operators had to make the decision as to whether it was cost effective to upgrade the equipment and facilities.



Way back when, Wednesdays

Retro style at Myer

Did you used to enjoy eating at the restaurant in the Myer store at Tea Tree Plaza, Modbury? On page 22 of the edition dated 15 August 1973, the Leader Messenger promoted the Myer Restaurant in its regular feature Tea Tree Plaza News.

Myer restaurant

The Myer Restaurant was situated on Level 3 of Myer, in the area that is now Ladies Fashion. It offered patrons panoramic views of the Adelaide Hills from a large, rounded rectangular window. You can still see where the restaurant was located if you drive down Smart Road towards Reservoir Road and look for the window above the entrance to level 2 of the store, that faces the car park.

The Myer restaurant was self-service. Self-service was very much in vogue at the time. A customer at the Myer restaurant would line up, take a tray and push it along the guided rails as they proceeded along the servery and selected their meals, paying for their purchases when they reached the cash register.

The advertisement pictured says that the Myer Restaurant would appeal to families but it was a comfortable place for anybody to sit and relax during their time browsing the store. Dining there would transform your shopping trip into a special outing.

You could choose from a range of reasonably priced meals and beverages, including hot food, sandwiches and treats like cakes and colourful jellies. Part of the appeal was looking at the presentation of all of the different foods and choosing what you wanted. The décor was very fashionable for the time, with funky chairs and tables and burnt orange tiles on the walls.

My personal recollection of the Myer Restaurant in the 1990s is enjoying the huge square-cut scones, topped with jam and fresh cream and accompanied by a big mug of hot coffee on an icy winter’s morning. What are some of your memories of dining there?

Myer renovated the restaurant in the years preceding its closure and it introduced table service, which was what customers expected in more modern times.

Some readers might also remember that when the restaurant closed in approximately 2005, Myer donated several large photographic prints depicting our local history to the City of Tea Tree Gully Library. If you know when the Myer Restaurant ceased trading, please let us know.

Everything old is new again. Nowadays we have the IKEA restaurant which is also self-service and offers a range of interesting cuisine, cakes and on occasion that 70’s favourite, chocolate mousse. If it was still in operation, we might view the Myer restaurant as being retro and hip!