Queen’s Theatre

Junction of Playhouse Lane & Gilles Arcade ADELAIDE (off Grenfell Street or Light Square)

20170129_124738.jpgQueen’s Theatre is wedged in behind a multi-level car park that fronts Grenfell Street and Light Square. It was built in 1840 and opened the following year in January with a performance of Shakespeare’s Othello. It was the third to open in Adelaide. The first theatre was in the Adelaide Tavern in Franklin Street. This was one of Adelaide’s main hotels and the Theatre Royal operated around 1838 in the dining room on the first floor. In 1839, Samson Cameron, an actor and theatre company manager, opened the Royal Victoria Theatre on North Terrace near Morphett Street. However, this was a crude theatre, nothing like the Queen’s.



An early lithograph (from http://www.artgallery.sa.gov.au

The Queen’s Theatre is the oldest existing theatre on the mainland (Theatre Royal in Hobart opened in 1837). It was built by brothers Vaiben and Emanuel Solomon. Emanuel arrived in South Australia in 1837 ad was one of the founders of the Adelaide Hebrew Congregation. The Theatre cost an amazing £10000 (about $1 000 000). Because performances were short-lived and the Theatre was not profitable, the Colonial Government took over the building in 1843 and it became the Resident Magistrates Court and Supreme Court.


The building was remodelled with a Georgian facade in 1850 when it reopened as the Royal Victoria Theatre. However, many people were leaving the colony for the goldfields in Victoria, forcing its closure again. Between 1868 and 1973 the building had many functions including operating as the City Mission, and in 1877 Formby’s Horse Bazaar was located there until about 1900. In the 1980s the building was at risk of demolition but when remnants of the original theatre were discovered, there was strong agitation (including from Barry Humphries) to conserve the building. Strict conditions now apply to the building so that it can be preserved as an important part of Adelaide’s history.


Read more at http://www.abc.net.au/local/stories/2008/02/10/2156700.htm 


Thebarton Air Raid Shelter

92 South Road TORRENSVILLE SA (Corner Ashley Street & South Road TORRENSVILLE SA)


Have you ever noticed this structure on South Road, just near the Thebarton Oval? Or wondered what it is? This is an air raid shelter built in the suburb of Thebarton (it is now it Torrensville due to re-zoning) in 1942 during World War 11. It took 4 months to build and cost £2000 to complete – that’s about $AU140,000 in today’s money.

It was decided by Lt-Col Shaw, the Commissioner of Civil Defence, that the shelter would be built in this location because ovals were known landmarks with plenty of space. They were considered to be unlikely targets for enemy bombs. The function of the Thebarton shelter was a communication and dispatch point. It had 16 telephone lines – 6 in and 10 out, and should there be an enemy attack the personnel in the shelter would coordinate evacuation and rescue efforts with staff in the communication centre in the basement of the SA Savings Bank in King William Street in the city of Adelaide.


The centre was also the base for ARP (Air Raid Protection) wardens. Inside the shelter there were stockpiles of food, blankets, batteries, medicines and other essential supplies. If Adelaide was attacked, the people of Adelaide were encouraged to assemble at this location and be transported by bus to safer areas away from the city.

It is worth noting that the shelter at Thebarton was not intended as a refuge point and neither were other similar control centres that were built throughout Adelaide. Slit trenches and pipe trenches were used for the protection of civilians and many people built their own in backyards and gardens.


The shelter is made of concrete and timber and is mostly underground. The thick roof weights about 70 tons and two staircases lead down into the shelter. The reinforced external concrete walls are 30 cms thick while the internal ones are 23 cms thick. It is not a particularly large structure measuring only about 30 X 20 metres. While there are 6 rooms inside, the largest one is only about 10 X 6 metres.



For a short time after the War, the shelter was used by St John’s Ambulance Brigade and then by the Girl Guides’ Association. Since 1969 the shelter has been used by two thriving magicians’ clubs – the International Brotherhood of Magicians and the Australian Society of Magicians who use the facility to hold meetings, store equipment and to house club rooms, a gallery and a museum. Note the art work featured on the South Road side of the shelter. The Society maintains the site and occasionally conducts public performances and lectures there, the last one being in May 2016. While I have not been able to find any open days scheduled for 2017, I will post dates as they are released.

While the SA Heritage Places Register lists the shelter as one of the few  in good condition in this state, it is possible that it could be removed as South Road is widened and extended. Even though you cannot see inside this facility, it is still worth a visit to the outside to see first hand what a structure of this nature looked like – while you still can.

For more information on the Air Raid Shelter –  The West Torrens Historian

Contact details for the Australian Society of Magicians are listed in the City of West Torrens Community Directory 2016 as
Peter Lohmann Phone: 0430 787 257 Email peeweetheclown@hotmail.com

Contact details for the International Brotherhood of Magicians:
call Don Gagliardi on 0428 435 778 or Drew Ames on 0439 821 708

Grange Jetty Cafe

 20161227_160945.jpgCnr Jetty Street & 487 Esplanade HENLEY BEACH SA 5022 | Phone (08) 8235 0822 |
Sunday – Thursday 7.30am – 7.30pm; Friday & Saturday 7.30 – 8pm | Website
 Eating overlooking the sea seems to have almost universal appeal and the views from Grange Jetty Café are fantastic. An uninterrupted view of the jetty and the beach makes this place very appealing. The café offers a range of food with an emphasis on pizzas and pasta and the type of food that you would expect near the sea – like fish and chips. The food is good quality – the only thing perhaps lacking is that there are not a lot of vegan/vegetarian options.
Plenty of seating inside and out – it can get windy some days so having both options is a plus. Good options for snacks and mid-afternoon coffees and the hours make this a great choice to have breakfast/brunch/early dinner by the sea. Takeaway options as well.