Those special times down at the milk bar

There were a few places more central to your childhood than the local milk bar.  For many of us, remind

There were a few places more central to your childhood than the local milk bar.  For many of us, remind us of simple, happy times when we could pop down to the local shop and didn’t have a care in the world.

Australia was full of milk bars from the 30s onwards. Do you remember when groceries couldn’t be sold after 6 pm? You’d just have to borrow from a neighbour or get some extra sugar on the sly. Milk bar kids loved spiders, ice creams and lollies – there were plenty of them to choose from and we could easily while the day away in the front window of our local.

People who ran the milk bar knew everyone’s names and everything going on in the neighbourhood. They were extra kind too and sometimes, if you were lucky, you would get an extra treat on your visit.

Sadly, milk bars didn’t last forever and were taken over by 24-hour supermarkets and service stations that offer round the clock service. But many baby boomers will always remember the milk bar!

The Black and White milk bar, in Martin Place, Sydney was opened by Mick Adams in November 1932, after a trip to the USA. Adams was one of many Greek immigrants who operated milk bars, cafes and fish and chip shops in Australia in the early 20th century. Adams later went on to open more milk bars in Sydney, Adelaide, Brisbane and Melbourne – there were 4,000 milk bars at the peak.




Image source:


Screen Shot 2015-09-25 at 1.58.29 PM Image source: Instagram






Photo credit: Eamon Donnelly

So let’s take a walk down memory lane tonight as we reminisce about milk bars and those special childhood memories! What do you remember?

  1. My wife & I ran a well known Milk Bar in Perth for a few years. Was going to send a pic.

  2. Ray Davidson  

    I remember that it was a real treat to have a Float with Coke ‘spiders we call them now’ and the hamburgers were just awesome. The atmosphere was fun and friendly and yes it was a place of local knowledge.

  3. Julieanne  

    There were various Milk Bar’s I frequented from a child right up to my late 40’s!

    I remember fondly Chemist Roush, near North Quay.
    One side a Pharmacy Dispensary, the other, a ‘fair dinkum’ Milk Bar, straight out of the US of A.
    It was just behind where I’d catch the tram home, sometimes at a dash from my ‘bar stool’, to the tram, when it stopped!

    I’d always get a Malted Milk, usually chocolate, or a Lime Ice Cream Spider……still do!

    Outstanding were two in my memory……

    One was in Isles, Love Lane in the City. It as owned & run by a Chinese man, which was unusual in the ’50’s, surname, Sue. He’d a fruit stall on one side of the shop, & the other was the Milk Bar.
    He made THE best Hamburger’s I’ve ever tasted in my life.

    The other was Val & Bill’s Grill Bar, at Burleigh Heads, Qld.
    We’d a holiday home at Palm Beach, so it wasn’t far to drive to pick-up the ‘phoned through order. It was 1960 when we got the ‘phone on! Such a novelty!

    Their Hamburger’s were just the MOST!

  4. The milk bar of my memory is Parry’s in Kogarah (Sydney) – it was just that – a Milk Bar. The lollies and chocolates were at the front on the right, the bar on the left and cubicle seating all the way down the right hand side. They sold the best milk shakes and spiders. It was the meeting place for many years as we grew up.
    Parry’s was an icon in the St George area and the Parry brothers were true gentlemen. They gave me my very first ice cream and reserved the right to give my eldest son his first ice cream many years later.
    As an early teenager i worked there on a Saturday afternoon, receiving a generous 10 shillings ($1) a day.
    Many happy memories from that time.

  5. If you don’t have one already I think you might need a review copy of my book Milkbar Memories published last year by Murdoch Books!? 😉 It has recipes for all the old favourites made from scratch! No nasties… lollies, spiders, ice cream, pies, sausage rolls, fish and chips , great burgers- with the lot!

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