Hindley Street has a bit of a reputation with the people of Adelaide – it is referred to by some as the ‘Entertainment District’ while by others as the cesspit of drunkenness and debauchery. It is one of those places that decent people tend to avoid at night because it is a magnet for many of the revellers of the city, and has the reputation to boot. It is also the street that young people with their first car tend to make a habit for driving slowly along its length, namely from King William Street to Morphett street (or vice versa), turning around, and then heading back again. In fact I remember being one of those young people in a VL Commodore full of mates.
I have to say that the VL brings back lots of memories (and in fact that was its name – the VL). It was my first and only car, and in fact it was the only car that I wanted to buy, and I have to say that it served me really, really well. Actually, I still remember blowing the clutch and then managing to drive it all the way from Sydney to Adelaide, and for a few months more, before I ended up getting the clutch replaced (and the warranty paid for it as well). After that I realised that the oil wasn’t the only thing I had to regularly top up.
Anyway, there is a tram stop on King William Street, and while I’m not sure if they do it anymore, the tram used to advertise the stop as the Shopping District (Rundle Mall) and the Entertainment District (Hindley Street). I was always bemused at Hindley Street being referred to as the entertainment district, especially since the only entertainment you get there are pubs and drunken people (among other things which I won’t mention in this post). They did have some cinemas there once but they are long gone. Mind you, it is probably better than the tram referring to Hindley Street as ‘the sleazy side of town’ since it would probably put all the tourists off the city.
Anyway, here is a video of the tram at the Rundle Mall (and Hindley Street) tram stop:
Oh, and before I continue, I probably should embed a map of where Hindley Street is located (if only to avoid it):
Well, when I was in Adelaide recently I decided that during lunch time I would go for a wander along Hindley Street, if only to see how things had changed, and to also write a blog post on it (and if there is one street that I can write a blog post on and that is Hindley Street). The thing is that when I caught up with one of my friends we noticed that the street is undergoing some form of gentrification, especially with the number of tapas bars and trendy restaurants appearing in the alleys. However, it didn’t take us long, even in the early evening, so see one of the regular occupants of Hindley Street, and we both agreed that no matter how much they try to clean the place up, it is always going to be Hindley Street.
Actually, I even remember one attempt when they tried to turn it into an al-fresco dining area, so they widened the footpaths. However nobody sat out on the street – in short it was an epic failure – so they ended up putting the footpaths back the way they were. Anyway, I’ll take you on a trip down Hindley Street, starting at one end, and finishing at the other, pointing out a few interesting locations.
So, at the Morphett Street end you have a couple of convenience stores which my friend and I used to refer to as the Kwik-Marts, in memory of the Simpsons, but on the other side is the Rosemont. There was a time when the Rosemont, back when it was known as the New Century, was the pub that was avoided at all costs. These days it has cleaned up a bit – but I will emphasise the words ‘a bit’. Basically it is a sports bar and a gaming venue, and as far as I’m aware that is the only reason why people go there. However, as a sports bar it is second to none – if you want to watch a major sporting event, then it will be on the screen here. In fact they have multiple big screens meaning that you can watch multiple sports at once. Mind you, if your sport of choice is lawn bowls you may need to find another venue (though I wouldn’t be surprised if they did show it occasionally).
Our next stop is this arcade which back in the distant past used to be a cinema complex. In fact it used to be a major cinema complex – I remember seeing Superman, Ghostbusters, and countless other movies here. However it didn’t survive, and ended up falling into disuse, that is until it was purchased by a church known as The Edge. I guess if there is one place a church is going to want to set itself up and that is on Hindley Street. However, as you can see by this recent photo the church is no longer there. I suspect that you need to be a special type of church to survive on Hindley Street – calling down fire and brimstone on all of the ungodly heathen probably isn’t the best way to win friends and influence people.
Our next stop is Tapas on Hindley, which I have to admit I have never been to, but I quite liked the colour of the building. As I have suggested they are attempting to clean it up a bit. Mind you, there are a few Middle Eastern restaurants down here, and even a couple of Shiska bars. There was one (which has long gone) called Jerusalems, which I thought was pretty cool, namely because I was invited to a birthday, and farewell, party for a girl I went to school with. Okay, I didn’t know her all that well, but a couple of my friends did, and she had no problem with me coming along.
Now we come to what I would describe as the changing face of Hindley Street – the Dog & Duck Inn and the Laneway Bar. Now, the Dog & Duck Inn used to be known as the Royal Admiral, and like the New Century, it was basically a no-go zone (at least for my group of friends). As for the Laneway Bar, that used to be a vacant block of land for, like forever. However we now has a rather classy establishment (the Dog & Duck) and a really trendy establishment (The Laneway Bar) occupying these locations. I’ve been to the Dog & Duck a couple of times for dinner, however it is the Laneway Bar that I think is really, really cool. Actually, come to think of it, I haven’t been to the Dog & Duck in ages, so I guess I’m going to have to rectify that the next time I’m in Adelaide.
Well, a little further down we come across one of those really exclusive nightclubs – Red Square. I say exclusive because it is one of those clubs that on a Friday or Saturday Night you will always find a line of young, smartly dressed people lining up with the desire to get inside, and the bouncers deciding who looks cool, or hip, enough to be allowed inside. This place has always been a nightclub in one form or another, though it was never a place that I ever frequented (I came here once, long ago) but before Red Square it was known as Rios. They also have (or had – I don’t know if it has changed with the lockout laws) a 24hr bar outside where you could get a drink at anytime of the day. There were a couple of times when the sun was beginning to appear over the horizon that a friend and I would be sitting here nursing a beer, waiting for the first train to begin its departure (though I have to point out the Red Square gets an absolute pasting on Yelp).
Before the cinema complex moved further down the street into the shopping complex, it used to inhabit two buildings across the road from each other. Mind you this was back in the days before the mega-multiplexes that you see appearing everywhere. I believe these cinemas are what ended up becoming the Greater Union cinemas. Once again, I remember these cinemas fondly, particularly coming here with my roleplaying friends on a Friday night to watch some cool blockbuster. This cinema, on the northern side of the road, used to house, I believe, one cinema, while the one on the otherside had two. It has since become the home for the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, though the ‘for lease’ sign above it suggests that maybe those days have now moved on. Adelaide Remember’s When, has a couple of articles about some of these old picture theatres (and this one gets a mention).
My next memory comes from this building that is actually a hotel. During my university days this used to be another regular haunt of mine – not the hotel, and especially not the massage parlours that operate out of two of the shop fronts – but an old roleplaying shop known as Gamesquest. It wasn’t so much the roleplaying shop that drew me here but rather the roleplaying club in the basement, and what a cool basement it was. While the rooms weren’t all that large, there were a number of boarded off areas that seemed to connect to other rooms that sort of suggested a much larger underground complex. Mind you, I am surprised, with all of the roleplayers that came down here, none of them tried to disappear into any of the boarded up basements. The club, however, is long gone, and ended up dying a really slow death after the gaming shop moved to a new location forcing the club to merge with a wargaming society.
I find it rather interesting that despite spending quite a lot of time at the Guild, I never visited any of the three big pubs on this strip (probably because I didn’t actually have any money, or I simply wasn’t interested in the pub scene at the time). Anyway, across the road from the Guild was the second of the big pubs (or should I say nightclubs since there are a few pubs along this strip) – the Jules Bar, or as it is known known, the Woolshed. Back in the early days this used to be a thumping night club that raged all night. This, along with Rios (and a third one which I will get to shortly) were where my friends in my younger years would only dream about visiting. Mind you, this place holds the distinction of being the only place I was physically thrown out of (I was really young back then). These days it is known as the Woolshed, basically a country and western style bar (though I’m not sure if the bucking bronco is still there).
The old cinemas that used to dominate this corner are now long gone, having been replaced with student accommodation, a KFC, and a rather colourful building. This was the sister cinemas of the ones that we have already walked past, and in fact it was here that I believe that I saw the original Superman Movie (the ones further down wouldn’t have been there at the time). However pretty much all of the cinemas in the city, with the exception of the Palace Nova on Rundle Street, have all but vanished. These days if you want to see a mainstream movie you have to go to one of the cinema complexes out in the suburbs (and I believe that the ones at Norwood are the closest), which is a shame because there is something cool about coming into the city to watch a movie (especially if you don’t live near one of the megaplexes).
It’s amazing how some of these buildings were built with an original purpose in mind but when that business closed down the relics of that business from the eighties still remains. That was the case with this next building (though the original building was much older). This used to be a restaurant known as Fast Eddies – sort of like an American burger joint. It was one of the tri-fecta that my friends would come to when we ventured down this way for a movie. We would have dinner at Fast Eddies, play a couple of games at Timezone, and then go and watch a movie. Mind you, like many of the other gems of the eighties, Fast Eddies has now long gone, and from what I recall, it is now a shiska parlour.
I had to have a second look at this photo, but now that it see it up closer I remember that this used to be the location of the third piece of the tri-fecta – Timezone. For those who weren’t around in the 80s and 90s, Timezone was basically an old video game parlour, back before the rise of the Nintendo, Playstation, and X-boxes. In the eighties if you wanted to play video games of any decent quality you had to go out to a specially designed video arcade where you would pour 20c pieces into the machines. I remember they even had lock-in sessions, where you would pay a fee and get to play as many games as you like from about 11:00 pm to the early morning. Mind you, due to lack of transport, I only ever participated in one of those games.
Another interesting thing is that as you wonder around Adelaide you will see all these buildings with Polites proudly displayed on them. Ever since I was a kid I wandered what these signs were all about – as it turns out Polities was a real-estate mogul (and probably still is) and all of the buildings with his name on them were (and probably still are) owned by his family.
Now we find ourselves at the third of what I have called the ‘Big Three’ nightspots from my youth – the Berkeley hotel (though it is now known as the Black Bull). Okay, I never frequented this place as often as I did the Jules Bar (even after getting thrown out), but I do remember coming here a couple of times. One night I remember they had a limbo contest (where you walk backwards under a bar that gets progressively lower, with the goal of neither touching the bar or falling over). I remember doing the limbo, and then going back and speaking with my friend when the DJ suddenly came up to me, plunked a huge vase of vodka and orange in front of us, and declared that I have won. It pretty much degenerated after that as it became one of those pubs that you avoided like the plague, however it has since had a refurbishment and is now a steak house.
When I was younger I remember when they built a tunnel under North Terrace from the railway station, and then an arcade that exited around Hindley Street. As a part of that there was this underground food court known as the Underground Diner. This was another of those places that we would regularly find ourselves visiting, usually for dinner. Mind you, I can barely remember any of the foodstalls that occupied this location, only that we would come here for dinner. The Underground Diner has long since gone, and even though they have attempted to resurrect the place, it has never amounted to anything. These days the only thing I have ever done in Station Arcade is walk through here to get to work.
Here we have Bank Street, the street that runs between Hindley Street and the Railway Station. Basically it is the street that the smokers walk down since you aren’t allowed to smoke in the Station Arcade. Mind you, there was nothing all that exciting about this place, that is until recently when they set up some seats along either side of the road, and a multitude of restaurants have appeared down here. Back in the days of my youth there were two really cool shops here – a second hand record shop and a second hand book shop. The bookshop has now moved (a couple of times in fact) while the record shop is now long gone.
Now we have Leigh Street, which is not directly across the road from Bank Street (more like directly across the road from the entrance to Station Arcade). I really don’t remember much about this street when I was younger, but these days it has developed a really classy feel about it, with a couple of pretty decent restaurants which my parents would come to on special occasions. I’ve also noticed how a couple of tapas bars, such as Casablabla, have also appeared here, in effect bringing about some change to the nature of Hindley Street.
I still remember a time before there were any McDonalds in Adelaide (in fact my first experience of McDonalds was in Melbourne, and I still remember that childlike amazement when I first laid eyes on one of the restaurants, and then my Uncle taking me out to dinner there – mind you that childlike fascination has now long gone). Okay, this may not have been the first McDonalds in Adelaide, but it sure can be counted among the early ones. However this has always been an convenient McDonalds, due to its location. I still remember when they had an upstairs dining area, but that has long since been closed down.
This is another of those streets, or more aptly a laneway, that has been transformed in recent years. For a while the only things you would find down here was a map shop and a comic book store. However it seems that the laneway craze has suddenly swept across the border from Melbourne and now I have counted about three, or even four, small bars along this stretch of road. There are even a couple of small coffee shops down here. For most of my life this laneway was pretty much ignored, however these days it is regularly crowded with people.
There was a time when Pizza Hut actually had family restaurants (and if you know where to look you might actually find some still floating about – I believe there is one still at Marion Shopping Centre, and I recently saw one in Bendigo). This is where the Pizza Hut was located in the city, and I still remember coming down here with family and friends and going for the all you can eat pizza and salad bar. In a way I still miss those days, but then again since I tend to avoid Pizza Huts like the plague (there are places that make much better pizzas than Pizza Hut) I doubt I would still be frequenting them these days. Mind you, I still remember being complete rat-bag at some of these restaurants.
For those who remember the Hindley Street of old I suspect you were all about to scream ‘what about Downtown!’. I hadn’t forgotten Downtown, which is one of those buildings that was specifically built and has retained the trappings of its former self, including the arrow pointing down to the entrance. Downtown was a little like Timezone, in that it was a video game parlour, but it was also a rollarskating rink (though I never rollerskated after slipping and breaking my arm). Mind you, I was more of a Timezone perosn than a Downtown person so I rarely frequented the place (with the exception of the Hungry Jacks that was out the front). These days Downtown has been converted into a nightclub, or should I say series of nightclubs because everytime I come back here it has had a name change (though I guess it was their own fault for regularly overselling tickets leaving people stranded outside with useless pieces of paper).
Good Old Hindley Street by David Alfred Sarkies is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. If you wish to use this work commercially please feel free to contact me.