Can’t just bulldoze a life of memories

This clipping is from the July 9 issue of The Advertiser Digital Edition, page 27.


“PLEASE tell me your map of land acquisition for the new South Road tunnels is wrong. It takes out the Tonsley pub and motel,” wrote Roger Marchant of Pasadena in a letter to The Advertiser.

No, Roger, the map is not wrong. But I share your pain.

The “Big T” has been a part of my life since virtually day dot. I spent many-a childhood Saturday night playing Space Invaders at the hotel while my parents socialised a bit closer to the bar with their friends.

My dad worked at Chrysler/ Mitsubishi for 37 years. The Tonsley Hotel was built in 1966 to cater for the thousands of Chrysler workers who lived in the area. Even though the car factory is long gone, the Chrysler Bar lives on at the Tonsley. It stands as a persistent reminder of the major southern-suburbs factory made possible by the forwardthinking policies of my mate’s great uncle, former premier Sir Thomas Playford.

Sir Thomas attracted so much industry to South Australia during his 27-year reign.

Then his successor, Don Dunstan, scrapped Playford’s Metropolitan Adelaide Transport Study in 1970. A centrepiece of this comprehensive traffic plan for Adelaide was a north-south expressway. The MATS report predicted the new road, to run virtually parallel to South Rd, would eventually stretch from Elizabeth to Sellicks.

When the plan was scrapped land set aside for MATS projects was eventually sold off. Now the state government will have to buy back more than 60 homes and businesses – and more down the track – at the current market rate. How ironic. If I was them I’d hurry up, as the price of housing in the area has skyrocketed in the past two years and is showing no signs of slowing down.

Do we now plan enough for future growth like they tried to with MATS? Surely not. A prime example is the growth of Mount Barker helping cause increasing congestion on the South Eastern Freeway.

When I hit adulthood my group of friends would line up to get into the Tonsley’s Mc-Mahon’s nightclub. McMahon’s , along with other venues of the time such as Lennies and the Holdy, harbour many coming-of-age memories.

The Tonsley buffet restaurant was an institution for many years. You could fit a lot of salad on those tiny little side plates. Especially if you went back for thirds. And the kids could spend dinner playing the free video games. My dad celebrated his 80th birthday dinner at the Tonsley. About 30 children, partners and grandchildren lined the 6m table to sing Happy Birthday.

What are our memories worth? Can they just be bulldozed out of existence?

I realise we can’t stop progress . And I fully support the South Rd tunnels.

But really? The Big T?

By Shaun Hollis