Remembering the days when you could pop down to the milk bar 349



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Milk bars were an icon of our childhoods and for many of us, remind us of simple, happy times were 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 6pm? You’d just have to borrow from a neighbour or get some extra sugar on the sly. Milk bar kids loved spiders, icecreams 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 have been 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.

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?





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






Photo credit: Eamon Donnelly

Starts at 60 Writers

The Starts at 60 writers team seek out interesting topics and write them especially for you.

  1. My favourite memory was being sent to the milk bar to get a Pt of cream which in those days you took a jug along and they filled it, walking home my sister and I use to drink it from the jug and I’m sure there was only half left when we got home with it.

  2. I have very fond memories of the local Milk Bar in Wanganui NZ. As teenagers we met every weekend at the ‘Big Orange’. It was ‘the’ meeting place where everyone turned up and we played our favourite songs on the duke box and just had endless fun. It was very much like ‘Happy Days’ the American programme which was so popular on tv years ago. We were all well behaved and knew nothing of drugs and the like …
    not like today.

  3. A brilliant Italian owned milk bar between my high school and the railway station. Made his own gelato which was stunning. Was THE weekly treat for many of us. Had those timber benches and a juke box so we could listen as we ate. We all travelled to school by train in those days, very few people ran cars, and if they did probably wouldn’t have dreamed of using it just to run the kids to school!

  4. In the small country town that I grew up in there was a milk bar called the Rainbow Cafe and yes it was owned and run by a Greek family. I loved the icy cold mildshakes in the metal containers. The milk had to be so cold that they had to chip the ice off with a metal ladle. This was a real treat.

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  5. Remember growing up as a kid in Stacey Street Bankstown & finding pennies down the back of my friends parents lounge chair and buying broken biscuits & GI green soft drink from the corner shop also cashing in the empty bottles and refinding them out the back & cashing them in again . Its called recycling !!

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    • We did the re cycle thing at Penshurst. Coming from ethic parents with multi siblings and no money, we re cycled quite a few places.

    • Yeah we used to do that in Yagoona, hop over the fence behind the milk bar get all the bottles then take them round front and cash em in so we could get a great lime soda – not sure if the owner ever caught on or not but it was fun.

    • We also had a lemon tree in our back yard and use to take the lemons to the Fish & Chip shop and they would give us a free feed every now and again. They were the best. Good old days miss them

    • Yep the good old days where stealing was re cycling the bottles from back of the shops. No guns and no violence

    • You are right , the old ones used to last through the news , the serial , the cartoons , two movies and interval inbetween and your mouth and tongue were back for a week !!

    • I lived behind a corner shop and my father used to boot kids in the backside who “recycled” the empty bottles.

    • Gi was my favorite soft drink, wish they still made it. And lime milk shake,s from the milk bar .The good old day,s , Bring them back.

  6. Special treat was the little ice cream tub and 3p for heaps of lollies. We would also get cash back on soft drink bottles. Those days were so simple and easy free

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