Urban Exploration – Derek Jolly’s Melbourne Street Futuro House

The Futuro House was designed by Finnish architect Matti Suuronen in 1968, initially for use as a prefabricated ski-cabin. The cabin was designed to be light enough to easily transport to remote locations, easy to construct once on site in unforgiving landscapes and efficient when it came to heating and retaining heat in very cold locations.  The main construction material chosen for the Futuro House was a fiberglass reinforced plastic.  The Futuro House also featured polyurethane insulation and this, combined with a powerful electric heating system, allowed the house to be heated from -28° Celsius to 16° Celsius in only 30 minutes.

The Futuro House was manufactured in 16 prefabricated pieces. The house could either be transported by helicopter pre-assembled or it could be assembled on site with little more work than simply bolting the 16 pieces together. The assembled Futuro House would sit on a steel frame which in turn sat on four concrete piers. The only real onsite construction needed to site a Futuro House was laying the concrete piers. Given the simplicity of the onsite requirements the Futuro House could be situated in almost any terrain.  Meauring approximately 4 metres high and 8 metres in diameter, the Futuro is a futuristic design with Scandinavian sensibilities.  Fewer than 100 Futuro homes were made worldwide, and today, less than 60 survive.

Adelaide’s Futuro House originally stood in Melbourne Street, North Adelaide and was owned by entrepreneur and local identity Derek Jolly. The original Melbourne Street site was eventually purchased for redevelopment and, as a result, the Futuro was then relocated to Provost Street where it stood for many years behind Decca’s Restaurant.


Derek Jolly’s Futuro House in Provost Street North Adelaide (source: abc.net.au )

Derek Jolly was a remarkable businessman and car enthusiast who had many interests, including photography, music, science and technology, the arts and fine wine. Throughout the 1950s, Derek Jolly became one of Australia’s most prominent racing car drivers.  He built and raced several of his own cars – the Decca – eventually winning the 1960 Australian Tourist Trophy in a Lotus 15.  This led to him becoming a regular member of the Lotus Racing Team, working on the development of their cars and touring the European racing circuits.


Derek Jolly in 1956 (source: Adelaide Now)

Derek Jolly was determined to establish Adelaide as a progressive city with a cutting edge arts culture.  Derek Jolly was largely responsible for the development of Melbourne St throughout the 1960s and 70s and what we see there today is a result of his legacy: shops, offices, apartments, boutiques and restaurants. During the early part of the 1960s, Derek Jolly built Decca’s Place in Melbourne Street, North Adelaide – a mixed use facility incorporating a restaurant, arts space and recording studio.   Gamba Studios was a state-of-the-art recording studio kitted out with the highest quality recording equipment available.  Derek Jolly encouraged an open-door policy, inviting musicians and performers to use the studios to experiment with their music.  To that end, he imported a Moog synthesiser – a ground-breaking piece of music technology for that era. It was the first time such equipment was available outside the US and was made available freely for use by local musicians and students of the Adelaide Conservatorium of Music.


The Futuro in North Adelaide 1971 (source: adelaidenow.com)

Derek Jolly died in 2002, aged 74. His death was the result of serious injuries sustained in a horrific car crash 12 months earlier when an out-of-control car slammed into his stationary vehicle at 90km/h.

Derek Jolly’s Futuro was acquired by South Australian property developer Joe Emanuele and relocated to his remote coastal property during the 1980s where it remains today.  It is currently undergoing refurbishment and restoration as part of the development of a nature retreat on the property.  It is not an abandoned structure and is on closely guarded private property.


Urban Exploration – Hide and Seek

I’m sitting on a backlog of recent explorations that I can’t put online yet because the time isn’t right.  Naming the locations prematurely puts them at risk and I try where possible to wait until the right time.  So, in the meantime, here’s a look at a recent misadventure:

Usually, my exploring is planned in advance.  Countless hours spent researching, studying maps and aerial images, following leads and driving around.  Once a location is found I skirt the perimeter, look for tell-tale signs of life, look for access points, check the neighbours and plan the least obvious spot to park.  I’m rarely impulsive these days and I rarely bother with the obvious main road locations.  The good stuff is hidden away and is generally worth the effort required.  I love travelling away from home too.  Security is different in rural areas – it relies more on locals looking out for each other than alarms and CCTV.  Strike up a conversation with some friendly locals and they’ll often open doors for you.  The main difference between country locations and metropolitan locations is the increased likelihood of having a shotgun in your face if you do the wrong thing.

Regardless of the location, I always start with a reconnaissance trip.  For those more remote locations, I wait until there are a cluster of stars marked on my map and then travel a few hundred kilometres from home to take a closer look.  Hopefully, I come away with a couple of places worthy of a return trip.  It’s a serious time commitment and partly why I’m generally unwilling to hand locations out on a silver platter to those who ask.

It was on one of these recent reconnaissance trips that I ended up here.  I had this location marked on my map for a while.  It looked intriguing from the air but I also knew from Google Maps that there were neighbouring properties on either side.  The property was heavily overgrown with multiple dilapidated buildings on site.  A former meatworks, it looked as though it had been used for storage for a period of time and then left to rot.  I parked a kilometre or so away and hiked in.  I found a gate wide open at the front of the property and walked on in.  I bypassed the front of the site and headed straight for the buildings at the rear of the property.  I always start from the back and work forward or from the top and work down – that way, if your explore is interrupted, you leave with some images rather than none.

I worked quickly, taking what I deem “reconnaissance shots” rather than more carefully considered images.  After having been inside for an hour or so, I came to a room that was quite open and exposed at the front.  This room differed from the others in that a number of items stood in contrast to their surroundings.  This didn’t feel right.  From all other indications the property was abandoned.  The presence of these items indicated some level of use – or habitation.  Feeling my time was up and having gathered enough info to suggest a return visit was warranted, I hurriedly packed my gear and retraced my steps through the complex.  As I rounded a corner into the former slaughter-floor a shout rang out.  A large bearded man stood in the doorway, a can of Melbourne Bitter in one hand and a shotgun held casually in the other.  Here, amongst the detritus and decay, resides one rather pissed off caretaker…

Needless to say, I may never get back inside for that planned return visit.  So, here’s a handful of reconnaissance shots for the record.


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.