Urban Exploration – Adelaide’s Forgotten Arcade: The Gallerie

Twenty years ago, one was able to walk from Pulteney Street to Gawler Place without seeing daylight by entering Renaissance Arcade in The Mansions building, heading down the escalator into the basement of John Martins, into the food court of The Gallerie Arcade and then up the stairs into Gawler Place.  Of course, this all changed in 1998 with the closure and subsequent demolition of John Martin’s department store.

Since Johnnie’s closure in 1998 the former Gallerie Arcade has stood empty, albeit for brief periods of revitalisation such as Tuxedo Cat’s use of the building as an art space.  A small section fronting Gawler Place had a period of retail use several years ago as a kitchenware outlet but this was short lived.  Once this store closed, the building was stripped out and more or less forgotten.

The Gallerie building comprises five floors and three separately linked buildings, including the heritage listed G&R Wills Building.  In recent years, the building has been heavily vandalised internally.  However, the majority of this is cosmetic damage, with shop fittings, electrical wiring, plumbing and escalators removed years ago.

g&r wILLS
Original 1880 architectural drawing (www.samemory.com.au)

My memories of The Gallerie are hazy, but I do recall the coffee shop/restaurant on the first floor at the Gawler Place entrance.  And the food court which I used to frequent on my way through to John Martins (the music section of John Martins was in the basement and I used to buy my vinyl LP’s and cassettes there!).

After standing empty for the best part of twenty years, plans have been approved via the Development Assessment Commission for a 19 storey, mixed residential/commercial tower to occupy at least a part of the former Gallerie site.  Plans for the remainder of the site are at this point unknown.

203 North Terrace
Artist rendering of new tower (www.203northterrace.com.au)

It is somewhat amazing that a building of this size and scale can stand empty in the middle of a modern city for twenty years.  Perhaps this is testament to the changing face of retail or the rigour of our current building rules which make re-purposing older buildings an onerous task.

I captured hundreds of images within The Gallerie, over multiple explores (thanks to Wildstar for accompanying me).  It must be noted that these images are nearly two years old and do not accurately reflect the current state of vandalism within.  I have been advised that the building is now equipped with state-of-the-art surveillance and regular security patrols.

Anyone else remember The Gallerie??

1984 Advertisement for The Gallerie (www.flickr.com/baytram366)
Gallerie 100
Looking down one of the neighbouring alleyways
Gallerie 100-2
Top floor
Gallerie 100-3
Remnant infrastructure
Gallerie 100-4
From the rooftops
Gallerie 100-5
Neighbouring buildings viewed from the lift room
Gallerie 100-6
Stairway at Gawler Place entrance
Gallerie 100-7
Gawler Place entrance.  There used to be a coffee shop/restaurant here
Gallerie 100-8
Stairs from the old coffee shop
Gallerie 100-9
2010 The New New, CACSA Contemporary installation
Gallerie 100-10
2010 The New New, CACSA Contemporary installation
Gallerie 100-11
Ground Floor
Gallerie 100-13
North Terrace entrance.  Downstairs leads to the old food court
Gallerie 100-14
Ground floor – at the North Terrace entrance
Gallerie 100-15
Looking into the neighbouring laneway
Lift room
City Views
Part of the old G&R Wills building fronting North Terrace
Second Floor
Second Floor
Stripped Out
First Floor
Third Floor
Fourth Floor
Basement – the old food court was down here
Basement.  The old food court

16 thoughts on “Urban Exploration – Adelaide’s Forgotten Arcade: The Gallerie

  1. Worked for G&R Wills in this building in the Manchester department which was in the basement until the building was sold and moved with them to Marion Rd Marleston (where Beaumont tiles is now). Remember the old building very well.


  2. I feel that I should remember this place and I’m sure I would have visited it back in the day. How sad that I can’t recall it, even with the help of the photos. Although, I am wondering if this was where Julius’ was because I remember those awesome hotdogs!


      1. The Orange Julius (and subsequently Max’s) hot dogs are things of legend. There was a vego place too, that made delicious brown rice/vege pies…. The food court used to get super packed at lunchtimes and on Friday nights! Our weekly pilgrimages always started with an OJ/Max’s treat…


  3. It opened in very early 1980s , was heavily advertised on TV and sounded and looked quite classy & upmarket. The David Jones of arcades.
    I too, forgot about the Gallerie as I lived in Melbourne during the 2000s. Upon visiting Adelaide a few times around 2009-12 I noticed how many buildings were vacant ( inc the – once full of gleaming tiles & marble + brass handrails – Gallerie.


  4. My Mum used to work in a jewellery store here – where the photo is taken from inside an old shop with the filing cabinet. Those photos are both haunting and nostalgic. I went to Tuxedo Cat a couple of times for some parties and it gave me goosebumps (good ones!) being able to stand exactly where the shop was.


    1. Yes IK. 25 years ago you’d most likely catch me at Eliza’s, in the basement, downing coffee & maybe a 20 tonne, 5 billion calorie lasagna ( god knows how I stayed in shape ?) I’m writing fiction about the resurrection of Adelaide ( & I don’t mean as student accommodation) CHEERS! Though I like abandoned buildings most of all ( but that little fetish stays within this forum please.)


  5. The first Clip Joint used to be on the mezzanine at the Gawler Place entrance. I remember getting taken there for a haircut when I was 11, back in the mid 80s. It seemed so sophisticated to get your hair washed before a haircut, in a little private booth with a curtain. Back then it cost $12 for a kid’s cut, which was over double what our usual suburban hairdresser cost!


  6. I worked in the Centre Management office of The Gallerie Shopping Centre for a number of years when it was in its prime! …so sad to see these pictures..used to be such a thriving Centre..loved working here ..that space to the right of the stairway leading down to the Food Court from the North Terrace entrance used to be the Carla Zampatti store and opposite that was the florist and next to the florist a cafe….Maxs was always popularespecially as the meeting place for school kids after school…it was next to Wendys ..opposite Wendys was like a deli type store and next to that a Greek takeaway store….centre management office used to be at the bottom of the stairs to the right coming from the Gawler Place entrance..would love to see pics of this space if there are any…I can picture every store and remember every store owner like it was only yesterday! so many great memories!


    1. Hi Gina, I would love it if you could mention the shop names. My mum and I have been trying our best to think of as many as possible. My favourites were RM Williams, Oroton and Laura Ashley. Best wishes, Amelia


  7. My Mum had a shop on the 1st floor I think it was… right next to the lifts and the Miss JM entrance. The lifts would take me to the toy department in John Martin’s which I would spend hours in. I also remember the basement with the food court that connected up to John Martins… they had the computer section selling Apple and Commodore 64s and 128s and there was the hifi dept and tvs. Compact Discs were just coming out and you could listen to a CD in one of the demo players…


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