Urban Exploration – Adelaide’s Forgotten World War 2 Radar Station

Despite our distance from the Japanese and European theatres of war in World War 2, South Australia still played a vital role in war efforts.

Following considerable enemy activity in the southern waters, the Australian Navy requested two radar stations be built to watch over the SA coastline.  Number 10 Radar Station commenced operations in April 1943.  The concrete operators’ building is rendered to resemble rubble stonework intended to look like a ruined house from the air. Three diesel engines were housed in an underground room nearby. A staff of about 50, mainly from the Women’s Australian Air Force (WAAAF), and an armed guard who patrolled the property, were accommodated in staff quarters in a nearby gully in huts deliberately designed to resemble shearing sheds.


Artist sketch of No. 10 Radar Station showing aerial placement and “ruin” camouflage

The radar station operated without incident, closing in late 1944 but briefly reopening after German U-Boat U-862 was located in South Australia’s waters.  At the end of the war, the station was closed and it’s equipment sold.


Some of the WAAAF radar operators stationed at the camp


The Radar Station camp in the war years

Today, what is left of No. 10 Radar Station mainly consists of the oblong concrete building which housed the operators and supported the radar antenna.  The outer “ruinous” walls have collapsed, so that the building looks a much less convincing ruin today than it did in wartime photographs.  The underground room is inaccessible – flooded with decades of rancid water and sheep carcasses.


The local council are currently in discussion with the property owner to make the site a publically accessible lookout in order to take in the magnificent coastal views.  In the meantime, it remains on private property, through numerous locked farm gates at the end of a very long dry-weather-only road.


Urban Exploration – Storybook Cottage and The Whacky Wood

When I posted my exploration of Fairyland early last year, a number of people commented that they seemed to recall another children’s theme park in South Australia.  I remembered it too and went on the hunt for what remained.   If you grew up in Adelaide in the 70s and 80s then it’s highly likely that you visited Storybook Cottage in the Barossa Valley at least once.

Storybook Cottage was, as the name suggests, a cottage based around storybooks.  One large room within the cottage featured various dioramas depicting children’s fairy-tales, nursery rhymes and storybooks.  As the cottage grew in popularity a large outdoor park was established – The Whacky Wood – with outdoor games, play equipment, animal nursery and picnic grounds.  The park won several major tourism awards and was a must-see destination for any family with children visiting the Barossa.  The park owner continued to add to the various displays and activities, and even sourced some arcade machines and displays from the now defunct Magic Mountain.

The park survived until around 2008 when dwindling attendances and increasing insurance costs finally forced it to close its doors.  Without regular visitors nature took over and the park became overgrown and run down.  I visited in early 2016 and took the images you see here.

After my initial visit, I returned to take more photos six months later only to find that the contents of the park had been removed and the block cleared.  The park owner still resides on site.  Please do not disturb his privacy – nothing remains to be seen.

Urban Exploration – The Gerard & Goodman Building

Alfred Gerard started his career in the electrical industry in 1897 with the opening of his own camera shop.  He later worked with electrical firm Davis Purvis before moving on to the well-known company of Ellis & Clark. In 1907, with a loan of ₤100 from his father-in-law William Goodman, he set up his own contracting business and soon had enough work to hire an assistant. When his workforce reached five he moved the business into the basement of a bicycle shop at 200 Rundle Street Adelaide. The company name “Gerard and Goodman” was registered on 3 August 1908.   Alfred Gerard started his electrical merchandising business, Gerard & Goodman, in Rundle Street in 1907. The company quickly established itself as the major engineering manufacturer and retailer in the city. Soon Gerard & Goodman was the largest company of its kind in South Australia, manufacturing, importing, retailing and repairing a wide range of electrical accessories and operating a photography, radio and ‘talkie-movie’ department. One of its most well-known products, clip-on metal conduit fittings, provided electrical contractors with an innovative solution to the issue of size variation in metal conduits (ie: it clips-all). The name was abbreviated to “Clipsal”, a now famous South Australian brand name.  


Gerard & Goodman warehouses, Synagogue Place, 1928 (source: State Library Of South Australia)


In 1921 the company purchased land in Synagogue Place, and showrooms, offices and a factory were built here. Starting as a two storey building, it was extended several times, with two further floors added to the original two-storey building in 1927-1928.  Whilst the main entrance was located in Synagogue Place, access to the bulk store was located at the rear entrance on Tavistock Street.  As business expanded and diversified, he bought the shop at 132 Rundle Street for an electrical and radio retail and repair shop. That arm of the business was later transferred to 192–196 Rundle Street east, adjacent to the Synagogue Place warehouse.



Gerard & Goodman, Rundle Street, 1939 (source: State Library Of South Australia)


Alfred’s son Geoff eventually took over the company, and it soon spearheaded several manufacturing breakthroughs, including the invention of the first all-Australian switch in 1930. The company also did early R&D on thermoplastics in the 1950s.

 Gerard & Goodman eventually moved its manufacturing operations to Bowden where a factory was built in 1936.  Gerard & Goodman retained a retail presence in Rundle Street well into the 1970s.  In 2003 the Gerard family sold its interest in the Clipsal business to Schneider Electric but retained a number of other non-electrical accessories businesses.

 In March 2017, the Gerard & Goodman building in Synagogue Place was demolished to make way for a new student accommodation precinct and a new chapter in Adelaide’s history.

Urban Exploration – HQ Complex

When HQ Complex shut it’s doors for the final time in January I knew I had to find a way inside and capture some final images before it was lost forever.

The Newmarket Hotel and HQ Complex stands at the corner of North and West Terrace.  It was at this site on 11 January 1837 that Colonel William Light began his famous survey to lay out the city of Adelaide.  The site was known as Town Acre 1 as Colonel Light laid out the city of Adelaide in 750 one acre lots.  A market was established on the land opposite and the New Market Inn was quickly established on the present site. The existing grand hotel building of today was designed by Daniel Garlick and was erected in 1884.  The name was changed to the Newmarket Hotel.


The Newmarket Hotel

The uniquely South Australian beer size ‘the butcher’ is said to have originated at the Newmarket Hotel as butchers gathered there from the cattle yards opposite (now the site of the new RAH).


1950s Newmarket Hotel

In the 1970s, a discotheque opened at the site – Bojangles.  Later this became Joplins.  1993 saw the arrival of Adelaide’s first super-club at the site – Heaven.   Heaven ran for many years before closing in the early 2000’s.  It reopened under new ownership and management as HQ and became the premier nightclub in Adelaide.


Heaven in the mid 1990s

HQ closed at the Newmarket Hotel site in January 2017, with the building set to be demolished to make way for a $200 million, 24-storey residential and retail tower.  The heritage listed Newmarket Hotel will be retained.  A “new HQ” is currently being built in Hindley Street.


The new HQ being built in Hindley Street

HQ and Heaven both hosted a swag of international stars over many years.  Even the mirror ball is famous – it’s the very same ball that Madonna sat atop during her Girlie Show concerts in Australia!



Farewell HQ – thanks for the memories.

Urban Exploration - Urbex - Abandoned Adelaide - Glenside Hospital

Urban Exploration – Glenside Hospital – The Birches, The Grove & The Occupational Therapy Centre

Continuing my series on the various buildings and wards which make up the former Glenside Hospital.  For more than a century the collection of buildings now known as Glenside Hospital were home to Adelaide’s abandoned, sick and insane. Within the walls of the 130 acre hospital were countless tales not just of sorrow but also ground-breaking, world-first advancements in the treatment of the mentally ill.

One of the older buildings remaining on the Glenside Hospital site is the original Wash House, Drying Room and Laundry.  This remains one of the earliest buildings constructed on the site after the original main building.  Originally built to be a laundry in 1879, in the mid 1920’s this building was converted into a Nurses’ Cottage. In 1954 it became a sewing room and later an occupational therapy centre.  It is heritage listed and will be retained irrespective of the pending Glenside development.

The Birches and The Grove are both more modern facilities constructed in the late 1970s.  These wards treated a range of conditions and held a range of patients on site.  These included geriatric patients and, later, forensic patients prior to the construction of James Nash House.  These buildings will soon be demolished to make way for The Glenside redevelopment.


Urban Exploration – The Penrice Soda Factory

Disclaimer: For various reasons, I have sat on publishing this post for over two years.  Shortly after the closure of Penrice Soda, I was invited by a fellow photographer to take some exterior images of the Penrice Soda site under a full moon.  I was intrigued at this huge industrial juggernaut standing quiet and empty.  Soon after that, a local auction firm held a massive two-day on site auction.  This provided me the opportunity to move beyond the cordoned-off areas and capture some daytime images.  At the time the site presented numerous hazards and was relatively unsecured and soon became a target for vandalism.  To protect the integrity of the site and the health and wellbeing of others, I have kept the majority of images from Penrice unpublished until now.  The site is now mostly demolished and has active 24/7 security onsite.  I caution against attempting access.  The images here are over two years old and present a record of the site at that point in time.

Penrice Soda Products was founded by ICI in 1935.  Named after it’s quarry near the small town of Penrice, Penrice Holdings operated for nearly 80 years and was Australia’s only producer of soda ash and sodium bicarbonate for products such as wine bottles and stockfeed.

Torrens Island, from east side of river

Photographer : George Hutton Date of original:c1960

The sprawling 14.7 hectare Soda Ash plant at Osborne used salt from Dry Creek, South Australia which was normally harvested in autumn and piped as a saturated brine solution across the Port River to the plant.  Lime came from the company’s mine at Angaston and was shipped to Osborne by rail (Penrice Soda Products was the last company in South Australia to use the broad gauge rail network in South Australia with Genesee & Wyoming operating the Penrice Stone Train from the Penrice Quarry to the Osborne soda ash factory. It ceased operating in June 2014 when the Osborne factory closed).

A combination of rising debt, attempted restructures and a difficult couple of years following the GFC pushed the company to the edge.  The high dollar, rising costs and uncertainty from the carbon tax eventually forced the closure of the plant.  In August 2013 Penrice’s full year financial results showed a statutory net loss after tax of $50.1 million.  It also showed net debt had increased to $112.1 million.  An auditor’s report released in February 2014 stated that the company’s liabilities exceeded its assets by $58.7 million.  There was little option but for the company to be placed into liquidation in August 2014.  At the time, Penrice was the fifth largest producer of soda ash in the world.

A substantial clean-up of the site and its surrounds is currently underway with future use options still being explored.







Urban Exploration – AMCOR Factory, Melbourne, Victoria

I called this site Autopsy Of Adelaide as I wanted to document the forgotten history of Adelaide and the fleeting nature of things as Adelaide transitions to a modern and bustling city.  But of course abandonment, loss of history and the demise of manufacturing are not limited to South Australia.  And so last year we packed the car and headed the 750 kilometres across the border to Melbourne.  I had a few locations listed that I wanted to visit.  We were fortunate that some contacts in Melbourne made us aware of a massive site that was in the advanced stages of demolition.

Amcor paper manufacturing had operated from a 16 hectare site in suburban Melbourne for nearly 100 years.  But, with ever increasing environmental demands, ageing infrastructure and a desperate need for development land for housing, the factory closed in 2013.  By the time we arrived only the large machine house and turbine house remained standing.


Samuel Ramsden, a Yorkshire man, founded the first paper mill in Victoria on the banks of the Yarra River.  This was the Australian Paper and Pulp Company which for most of its history was called The Australian Paper Manufacturers Ltd. until it changed its name in 1986 to Amcor.  In 1918 the company opened its mill in the suburb of Fairfield where it remained until it’s 2013 closure.  The land was originally a large Yarra bank property named ‘Woodlands’ but soon became the largest industrial complex in the area.

The mill expanded during the 1930s with a 15-ton turbo electric generator bought in 1932 and transported in two halves from Victoria Dock to Fairfield.  This was a huge technological advance for the mill as the generator was one of the first of its kind to be used in private industry in Australia.  It also established an early form of household recycling with a call to households to sponsor charities to collect waste paper and sell it to the A.P.M. for recycling into cardboard.  Further expansions in the post-war boom of the 1950s saw the construction of a new boiler house, pump house and machine rooms.

In 2013, the company, now known was Amcor, opted to consolidate operations to Botany in New South Wales and close the Fairfield site.

I hope you enjoy this look inside.