In this section, we shall explore the mid-20th century shopping mall phenomenon, as it played out in The Land Down Under. Four Australian "shopping precincts" will be covered in detail, at the end of this article. 

A graphic showing the locations of the major mall cities in the continent nation.

1957 was perhaps the most important year in history for the Australian retail industry. Greater Brisbane's CHERMSIDE DRIVE-IN CENTRE, the nation's first regional-class, post-war shopping precinct, started trading to the public on May 30.

Greater Sydney's TOP RYDE DRIVE-IN CENTRE, the first for that city and the second major post-war shopping complex in the Commonwealth, opened November 14. A retail revolution down under was underway!

Greater Brisbane's CHERMSIDE DRIVE-IN CENTRE was the first suburban-style shopping complex built outside North America. The open-air mall was situated 6 miles north of the city centre. Note: a smaller (non department store-anchored) shopping facility, the BELL STREET MALL, had opened in Melbourne, in 1956.
Photo from

The original CHERMSIDE was anchored by a Brisbane-based Allen & Stark department store and housed twenty-four tenants. Its car park had space for 700 autos. Today, after several renovations, WESTFIELD CHERMSIDE encompasses 1,622,400 lettable square feet and contains 513 stores and services.
Photo from State Library of Queensland

Greater Sydney's TOP RYDE DRIVE-IN CENTRE was Australia's second major open-air shopping mall. The 169,000 square foot complex contained forty-five shops and included a 400-space car park. The TOP RYDE shopping precinct was situated 12 miles north of Sydney's Central Business District. Its slogan..."Come as you in comfort".
Photo from

The original TOP RYDE anchor was a Sydney-based A.J. Benjamin (which was rebranded by Grace Brothers in 1964). Today, TOP RYDE CITY spans 840,900 lettable square feet, with a tenant roster of 276. 
Photo from
Sydney's Westfield Development Corporation (now known as the Scentre Group or Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield) opened WESTFIELD PLAZA, its first retail complex, in July 1959. The centre was located in the Greater Western Sydney suburb of Blacktown.

WESTFIELD PLAZA, anchored by Sydney-based Winns, featured a supermarket and thirteen shops. Free parking was provided for fifty autos. Westfield sold the complex in 1973. In the present day, the WESTPOINT BLACKTOWN commercial centre spans 1,076,400 lettable square feet and contains 259 stores and services.
Photo from

The company's next endeavor, WESTFIELD HORNSBY, was built in the Upper North Shore suburbs of Sydney. Anchored by Sydney-based McDowells, the open-air structure housed twenty-five shops. It began trading to the public in July 1961. In the 21st century, the shopping precinct incorporates 1,074,500 lettable square feet and contains 259 shops and services. 
Drawing from the Westfield Development Corporation
Meanwhile, something bigger and better had come along. CHADSTONE ["chad-stun"] CENTRE opened, in Melbourne's southeastern environs, on October 3, 1960.

It was the nation's largest shopping complex until being trumped by Greater Sydney's ROSELANDS CENTRE, in October 1965. [After several enlargements, CHADSTONE CENTRE reclaimed its status as largest shopping centre in the nation].

Originally encompassing 355,200 lettable square feet, and housing seventy-three shops, the open-air CHADSTONE "shopping township" was truly revolutionary. For several years thereafter, Aussie shopping facilities would be referred to as being "Chadstone-like" or "Chadstone-type".
Drawing from the Myer Emporium

With the open-air shopping centre now firmly established in Australia, the next logical step was to the fully-enclosed "pedestrian precinct".

Canberra, Australia's capital, beat Sydney and Melbourne to the punch with the completion of its MONARO ["muh-NAIR-oh"] SHOPPING MALL, which began trading to the public on March 6, 1963. 

The MONARO SHOPPING MALL originally encompassed approximately 220,000 lettable square feet and housed sixty-one tenants. Billed as "A whole city block under one roof", the complex was also the nation's first 3-level shopping centre. It has been known as CANBERRA CENTRE since November 1989.
Photo from / "Canberrahouse"
As the MONARO SHOPPING MALL was welcoming its first patrons, another Sydneyside shopping centre was nearing completion. WARRINGAH ["wear-EENG-guh"] MALL started trading to the public on April 4, 1963.

Developed by Sydney's Hammerson Group, WARRINGAH MALL encompassed 290,000 lettable square feet. It opened as Australia's second-largest shopping precinct (Greater Melbourne's CHADSTONE CENTRE being the largest). 

In 1963, WARRINGAH MALL housed fifty shops and services. Located 7 miles north of the Sydney Central Business District, the open-air complex cost 6 million pounds to construct.
Drawing from The Hammerson Group 

The original WARRINGAH was anchored David Jones, a Sydneyside department store. Today, it has enclosed and open-air components and envelops 1,356,000 lettable square feet. There are over 300 shops and services. Australia's Westfield Group established a 50-percent share in the complex in 2012, with its name being changed to WESTFIELD WARRINGAH. 
Photo from State Library of New South Wales
Greater Sydney's first fully-enclosed shopping mall was officially dedicated on March 21, 1964. MIRANDA FAIR, situated 12 miles southwest of the urban core, cost over 3 million pounds to build and had parking accommodations for 1,100 autos.

MIRANDA FAIR, Australia's second climate-controlled retail complex, consisted of three interconnected hexagonal structures. In 1964, it housed approximately 240,000 lettable square feet. 
Photo from State Library of New South Wales 

Originally anchored by a Sydney-based Farmer's, MIRANDA FAIR would go on to become Australia's first two-anchor shopping complex. A Grace Brothers store was completed in August 1971. In the present-day, the retail complex is known as WESTFIELD MIRANDA. It encompasses 1,191,500 lettable square feet, with 396 tenant spaces. 
Photo from State Library of New South Wales

Not to be outdone by its southern sibling city, Sydney strived to build something bigger, better and -also- fully-enclosed and air-conditioned.

ROSELANDS CENTRE, located 8.5 miles southwest of central Sydney, first traded to the public on October 12, 1965. It immediately trumped Melbourne's 5 year-old CHADSTONE CENTRE and assumed the distinction of largest retail hub in the Southern Hemisphere.

Sydneysiders were immediately smitten with their gargantuan ROSELANDS CENTRE, which outdid everything that had come before it. Developed and anchored by Sydney-based Grace Brothers, the 15 million pound merchandising mecca housed ninety stores and services. Its slogan..."A meeting place, A market place!".
Photo from National Archive of Australia / Image number: A1200 L52829
Meanwhile, Melbourne's Myer Emporium was developing that city's first fully-enclosed shopping hub. NORTHLAND CENTRE would be officially dedicated on October 4, 1966. The trend-setting shopping precinct encompassed over sixty stores and services.

Melburnians were introduced to air-conditioned shopping with the dedication of NORTHLAND CENTRE. The first of Melbourne's three directionally-designated malls, it was followed by EASTLAND CENTRE (in October 1967) and SOUTHLAND CENTRE (in September 1968). The Myer Emporium planned for a WESTLAND mall in 1973, but it was never built.
Drawing from The Myer Emporium
The Australian retail industry continued to evolve throughout the mid-1960s. Sydney's Westfield Development Company was being established as a major mall owner-operator. 

They inaugurated the first of many "Shoppingtown" -branded centres in 1966. BURWOOD WESTFIELD SHOPPINGTOWN, which first traded to the public on October 10, 1966, was located 5.4 miles west of central Sydney.

A circa-1966 aerial view of the Harbour City's "incline mall". BURWOOD WESTFIELD SHOPPINGTOWN was built on a sloping site, which facilitated its rather unique design. Instead of elevators and escalators, its two shopping concourses were connected via ramps and a set of escalators.
Photo from the Sydney Morning Herald

Before delving into our four in-depth Australian Shopping Mall features, it might help to -first- review the major retail chains in operation in the Commonwealth during the 1950s, '60s and '70s. We have assembled brief histories, hoping that no major details have been left out.


Originating in Sydney in 1838, the David Jones' chain is noteworthy today for being the world's oldest department store still operating under its original name. By the mid-1980s, the mercantile, known colloquially as "D.J.'s", had expanded from its base of operations in New South Wales to stores in Queensland (Brisbane), Australian Capital Territory (Canberra), Victoria (Melbourne) and South Australia (Adelaide).


A Melboune-based institution dating back to 1900, Myer Emporium expanded exponentially between 1961 and 1984. Chains such as Sydney's Farmer's,  Adelaide's Marshall's, Western Australia's Boans and Queensland's Barry & Roberts were acquired. A merger with the owners of Melbourne-based Coles New World supermarkets was completed in March 1985. The Myer end of the conglomerate was sold to a consortium of US investors in March 2006. 


Sydney's Farmer's chain acquired Australia's Western Stores in October 1960. In 1961, Farmer's became a division of Myer Emporium. Although a reference or two to "Myer-Farmer's" may be found in mid-1960s newspapers, the Farmer's chain continued to trade under its own banner until 1976, when stores were Myer-branded. 


Another Sydneyside department store, Grace Brothers was founded in 1885. The chain was bought by Melbourne's Myer Emporium in July 1983. However, Myer continued to operate stores under the Grace Brothers banner for several years. All twenty-five locations officially became Myer operations on February 13, 2004.


This Sydney-based ladies' wear retailer first traded to the public in 1909. Mark Foy's expanded into the suburbs of Sydney and Melbourne in the 1960s but was in a state of decline by the late 1970s. The last store, in downtown Sydney, was shuttered in January 1980.


Colloquially known as "Woolies", this chain opened its first store -in Sydney- in December 1924. The retailer had no connection with the defunct North American 5 & 10 chain of the same name, although it was also a variety store operation. The first Woolworths supermarket opened in 1960. By the early 1990s, the Woolworths name was being used exclusively as a label for the chain's grocery stores. The variety store division had been gradually phased out.


Big W was a name given to a new line of discount department stores operated by Woolworths, Limited. The first Big W -located in Tamworth, New South Wales- began trading to the public in 1964. The Big W brand was used to differentiate the new discount stores from the company's existing Woolworths variety stores and its burgeoning Woolworths supermarket division.


Based in Greater Melbourne, Coles started out, in April 1914, as a variety store chain. By the late 1950s, the company was gravitating toward grocery retailing and several competing supermarket chains were acquired. In 1962, the Coles New World nameplate was devised, as a reflection of the then-emerging Space Age. The Myer Emporium merged with G.J. Coles & Coy, Limited in March 1985, forming Coles Myer, Limited. The New World reference was dropped from the Coles supermarket nameplate in 1991.


In 1968, Myer Emporium acquired the 42-year-old Lindsay's fabrics and furnishings chain. Fourteen stores were rebranded as Lindsay's Target. The nameplate was shortened to Target in March 1973. As mentioned, the Myer and Coles conglomerates merged 1985, forming Coles Myer, Limited. In November 2007, Perth's Westfarmers Group acquired the company, by then known as the Coles Group. Although the US-based Target Corporation and Target Australia share striking similarities, both attest that they are -and always have been- two separate and non-affiliated companies. 


One year after Lindsay's Target first traded to the public, G.J. Coles & Coy established a joint venture with the US-based S.S. Kresge Company. The first Australian Kmart opened -in Burwood East, Victoria- in April 1969. Coles Myer, Limited established full ownership of the Australian Kmart operation in 1994. In November 2007, Perth's Westfarmers Group acquired the Coles conglomerate. 

Now, scroll along as we visit four of Australia's earliest mall-type shopping complexes. The first  section will cover Victoria's first mega mall...
Melbourne's Chadstone Centre

The trademark of the first major shopping precinct in Greater Melbourne. At the time of its opening, the centre was said to "closely follow the American pattern in style, design and services". In fact, "Chaddy" was modeled after San Francisco's STONESTOWN CENTER.
Graphic from the Meyer Emporium

The mall's primary anchor store, Melbourne-based Myer Emporium, is seen in this vintage view. A note for those readers in the United States: the name of the complex, CHADSTONE, is pronounced "chad-stun" in the Land Down Under. 
Photo from State Library of Victoria

The Myer mallway entrance, on the northeast side of the 3-level store structure.
Photo from State Library of Victoria

A vintage view of the sprawling CHADSTONE complex, taken from the roof of the Myer store. At left centre is the large Garden Plaza and Indoor Garden pavilion. Back in the day, mall patrons would congregate at the Plaza area and enjoy free jazz concerts.
Photo from State Library of Victoria

The Upper Mall concourse in the original "Chaddy".
Photo from State Library of Victoria

A vintage view of the Lower Mall level, which was accessed from a set of escalators seen far in the background. This subterranean floor hosted services such as a Veterinary Clinic, Pets Parking Lot pet-minding centre, Children's Day Nursery child-minding centre and Kiddieland. This attraction included small fry amusements, such as fiberglass Thunderbird racing cars, swan rides and mini-helicopters.
Photo from State Library of Victoria

A layout of Melbourne's "compact city in the suburbs", which housed seventy-three tenant spaces. Its bi-level car park could accommodate up to 2,500 autos. At the time of this plan, CHADSTONE was located in the Malvern East suburb, in the City of Malvern local government area.


MYER EMPORIUM (with Strawberry Room Restaurant) / BUCKLEY & NUNN department store / FOY & GIBSON department store / ROCKMANS department store /  G.J. COLES & COY variety store / JAMES McEWAN & COMPANY Hardware / PATERSONS Home Furnishings / S.E. DICKENS supermarket / Angus & Robertson books / Mrs. N.M. Bowyer, public stenographer / Bradman's Suburban Stores accessories / Brash's electrical / Brighter Homes-Smith & Walton Paints / Burton School of Motoring / Cann's ladies' wear / Chadstone Bistro / Chadstone Centre News Agency / Chadstone ladies' wear / Chadstone Liquor Centre / Chadstone Motor Parts / Children's Day Nursery child-minding centre / Coles & Girard opticians / Commercial Bank of Australia / Commonwealth Savings Bank / Thomas Cook & Son (Asia) travel agency / Countryside Kitchens cakes / Downyflake Food Corporation coffee shop / W.T Dyer Sea Foods / Edments Jewelry / Exotic Aquarium & Pet Supplies / Fletcher Jones & Staff ladies' & men's wear / Herald & Son advertising divisions / Herbert Adams cakes / Hilton's of Chadstone ladies' wear / Hospital Benefits Association of Victoria / Peter Issacson press office & stationery / A.G. Johnstone men's hairdresser / Kiddieland / K.A. Lee Home Furnishings / Lindsey & McKenzie drapers / London Baby Carriages baby furniture / Martin & Pleasance chemists (pharmacy) / G.F. Mason fruiterer / Maternity Faire maternity & children's wear / Kenneth McDowell rubber goods / McKenna's Junior Shoe Salon / Medical-Dental Centre / Melbourne Sports Depot sporting goods / Mercantile Mutual Insurance Company / Model Dairy milk bar & dairy / Naytura Cafe & Store health foods / Newman's Chocolates & Candies / Oggi (Chadstone) ladies' wear / Pets Parking Lot pet-minding centre / Portman's ladies' wear / Post Office / Progress Press press office & stationery / Prouds Jewelry / Public Benefit Shoes / Royena Nurseries / Saks the Florist / Sportsgirl ladies' wear / Spotless (Chadstone) dry cleaners / State Savings Bank of Australia / Sussan Lingerie & Sportswear / Sutton's Delicatessen / The Leviathan men's wear / The Myer Babywear Shop / The National Bank of Asia / Tim the Toyman / A.E. Vauhan Tatt's agency / Arthur J. Veall electrical / Wade's Chadstone Meats / R.H. Wagner & Sons photo supplies / George Waldrop men's wear John Warlow Studios / J.B. Were & Son stock & sharebrokers / Williams The Shoemen / F.H. Wiltshire & Associates veterinary clinic 

We now switch to full-colour images. Above is a late 1960s view of the southern end of the Upper Mall at CHADSTONE. This was back in the days when the Coles conglomerate was still operating variety-type stores.
Photo from Historic Melbourne Pics / Ebay Postcard Collection

In this vintage view of the northern end of the Upper Mall, we see the fibreglass panel roof that had been installed -in 1967- as partial protection from inclement weather. The shopping concourse would be fully-enclosed and climate-controlled in the 1980s.
Photo from / NuColor Vue / John Young Collection

Melbourne's Myer Emporium, who built CHADSTONE, followed with NORTHLAND CENTRE. The first of three directionally-designated enclosed malls, it was dedicated in October 1966. The original complex contained seventy-three stores and services. Today, NORTHLAND CENTRE houses over 330, with a lettable area of 1,025,900 square feet. 
Graphic from the Myer Emporium

The second of Melbourne's directional malls was EASTLAND CENTRE. Dedicated in October 1967, the shopping precinct contained forty stores under its roof. It was demolished, save for its Myer anchor store, in the mid-1990s. A new retail complex was dedicated in 1995. Today, it encompasses 1,410,000 lettable square feet and contains over 350 shops.
Drawing from the Myer Emporium

Lastly, there was SOUTHLAND CENTRE, which was completed in September 1968. The Myer Emporium proposed a WESTLAND mall in 1973, but it was never least by Myer. Another company developed a retail complex. It opened -as HIGHPOINT WEST CENTRE- in 1975. Today, the WESTFIELD SOUTHLAND shopping precinct encompasses 1,390,400 lettable square feet, with a retail roster of over 400 shops. 
Graphic from the Myer Emporium

DONCASTER WESTFIELD SHOPPINGTOWN was the first foray into the Melbourne market by Sydney's on-the-grow Westfield Development Corporation (today's Scentre Group). The fully-enclosed DONCASTER shopping precinct first traded to the public in September 1969.  It was expanded in the late 1970s, early 1990s and early 2000s. Today, WESTFIELD DONCASTER encompasses 1,291,700 lettable square feet and contains over 400 shops and services.
Drawing from the Westfield Development Corporation

Returning to our focus on CHADSTONE, the first of many mall enlargements was done between 1985 and 1986. The original shopping precinct was enclosed, with a new supermarket and 2-level Northeast Wing built. Moreover, the north end grocery was replaced by a vertically-stacked Target discount store and 8-screen cinema. 

A graphic depicting the various expansions done to CHADSTONE CENTRE between the mid-1980s and early 2000s. With all of the reconstruction, there is now little -if any- of the original 1960 mall remaining. Note: after some political rezoning in 1994, the mall was now situated in the newly-created City of Stonnington local government area (but still considered to be within its Malvern East suburb).  

The south end of "Chaddy" was rebuilt in the late 1990s, as part of a "Stage 20" project. The original (circa-1960) Myer was demolished, with the new store -seen here- being dedicated in November 1998. It was joined by a David Jones department store 1 year later. These were linked by a curving, sunlit galleria concourse, completed in December 1999.
Photo from Wikipedia / "Raider2044" 

A "Stage 30" expansion, known as Chadstone Place, opened between late 2008 and early 2009. This "outdoor-style" addition consisted of 1 and 2-level structures, with a single-level parking deck covering a building on its east end. Chadstone Place housed several exterior-entranced stores, a "Fresh Food Precinct", al fresco dining area and 4-storey office tower.    
Photo from (The Buchanon Group)

A Woolworths supermarket, anchoring the new Chadstone Place addition, debuted in October 2008. The mega mall now featured three food stores; Woolworths, Aldi and the existing Coles. There was also a Colonial Fresh Markets fruit & produce store.
Photo from Wikipedia / "Alpha"

Above, we have a circa-2009 store map of the Ground Level (Upper Mall) of CHADSTONE CENTRE. By this time, the shopping precinct was being promoted as "The Fashion Capital". 
Original graphic from

In this image, we see a new West Mall section, built over area were the original (1960) mall once stood. Work got underway on this "Stage 33" project in May 2008. The 278 million dollar retrofit, which encompassed 463,000 square feet, was completed in November 2009.
Photo from 
Ontario's Don Mills Centre

Don Mills, North America's first self-contained suburb, was the earliest planned city to include a full compliment of residential, commercial, educational, medical, religious and industrial facilities. Developed between 1953 and 1965, the ultra modern metropolis had a shopping mall as its commercial core. This depiction from early 1954 shows the retail hub as it was originally envisaged.
Drawing from 

A vintage view of the initial DON MILLS mall, which was completed in the fall of 1955. The design of this open-air complex incorporated a minimalist modern architectural style.
Photo from Panda Architectural Photography Collection, Canadian Architectural Archives, University of Calgary / Image number 55943-14

In a second snapshot, we see the east end of the 350-foot central mallway and entrance into the Dominion grocery store. This supermarket would eventually relocate into a larger structure at the mall.
Photo from Panda Architectural Photography Collection, Canadian Architectural Archives, University of Calgary / Image number 55943-18