Sunday, May 04, 2014


Cardwell by the Sea...Hinchinbrook Island in the background
Main Street of Cardwell...which is actually the Bruce Highway...businesses on one side; ocean on the other.\

W.C. Fields once said: “Never cry over spilled milk, it might’ve been poisoned.” 

Later, after he came back (or it could’ve been before he left) Arnold Schwarzenegger grunted: “Milk is for babies; when you grow up you have to drink beer!”

Advice I sometimes follow; and many other times, not.  I don’t drink a lot of beer, but there’s nothing quite like an icy-cold beer to quench one thirst in the heat of summer.  The beer industry would go broke if it depended on my ingestion of the amber ale or lager, though.  I’ve not had a beer since Christmas.  When I do infrequently succumb, it’s always lager.

I don’t spill a lot of milk, but I do drink my fair share of it; and always full cream.  I like milk; I enjoy drinking it.

When I was a child growing up in Gympie in the Fifties there were nine or ten (or more) cafés along Mary Street, Gympie’s main street, alone - Condie’s; Wards; Brown Jug, Tobin’s; Patrick’s, Choy’s and Comino’s to name but a few; I can’t remember all the names at this moment.

Each one prepared and served milkshakes and malted milks in the authentic fluted, frosted metal drink containers of old while us children with our eyes sparkling in eager anticipation watched on. The containers froze our little fingers, but not enough to be a deterrent. Only the shortage of pocket money would stop us from indulging; but I must admit I mostly preferred the painfully-cold orange drinks; and probably, overall, had more of them than I did milk shakes.  As a child I wasn’t a big lover of ice cream, as strange as that sounds.

Sometimes the rich milky treats were served in the paneled soda fountain glasses mostly reserved for chilled orange juice or ice cream sodas. 

At this very moment the roof of my mouth is going out in sympathy just from the memories flooding back of the pain suffered, but endured!

Those days are long gone, aren’t they, of the old-style cafés/milk bars?  Are there any similar outlets around the ridges today where these drinks are sold? 

(As an aside…there were as many pubs in Gympie’s main street back in those days, too.)

Most of the cafés/milk bars in Gympie back in those days of yore were owned and operated by Greek families; at a guess, more than 95% of them.

Condie’s Café on the opposite corner to Webster’s Corner Store at the Five-Ways was very popular with the movie-going crowd because the Olympia Picture Theatre was only a hop, skip and jump away.  The picture theatre also had a small milk bar snuggled up close and personal to it on either side, enough to keep everyone happy.

Patrick’s Café halfway along Mary Street became a popular meeting place for lunch after I started working.

Tobin’s Café a little further along Mary Street, frequented often by the wives of farmers when they came to town was lined in stained dark wood/ and it’s glass-encased shelves and display counters held many tempting cakes. 

Back in the Fifties the farm/country ladies only came to town once a month; perhaps at most once a fortnight.  And they always dressed in their very best - equal to their Sunday best - for their day’s outing in town; and fashionable hats were almost always worn.

My first job when I left school in the early Sixties was as a legal secretary at Tozer & Jeffery, a local law firm. The newest junior member of staff, into which mould I fitted at one stage, had a very important chore to do each morning.  That chore was to walk down to Tobin’s Café daily clasping a glass jug in one's hand to purchase the milk for our morning teas.  The hardest part of this chore was to arrive back to the office with a still-full jug of milk. Our success rate was very low.  A trail of spilled milk was left behind.

The office didn’t have a fridge to store milk.  In fact, we didn’t have any “mod-cons”.  The most modern piece of equipment we had in our “staff room” was an electric jug.  And, our “staff room” was, in fact, nicknamed the “dungeon” by us staff.

It was an underground area; below street level. It housed an old, unused strong room, a bench, a few chairs, some old bookcases filled with ancient ledgers and journals, lots of dust, and that’s about it!  We walked down stairs to enter the area; and there was a mottled-glass, solid window set into the concrete wall at footpath level.  The glass was thick and strong; it was unable to be opened. Shadowy forms of the ankles and feet of the passing parade of people could be just made out.  Actually, it was rather more like “the few people walking along the footpath at any given time”, than “the passing parade”.

You might note I wrote “walk down” – and this is what we had to do.  Gympie is a very hilly town.  The office in which I worked was up one end of the Mary Street; and the main shopping area of the street where all the cafes were…was downhill…in what originally had been a gully…Nash’s Gully.  In 1867 prospector James Nash discovered gold in Gympie; thereby saving Queensland's bacon and putting Gympie on the map! 

But back to the important issue of the moment - the last time I came across a milkshake/malted milk-making machine was when I moved to Cardwell from Collinsville in the mid-Nineties.

Before I took on a position as manager of a motel on the highway in Cardwell I worked for a brief period at a service station, where, in the evenings, I operated the little restaurant attached to the servo. During the day I did a daylight shift serving behind the counter in the shop wherein my duties included the selling of all manner of items, along with the preparation of burgers, fish, chips, steak sandwiches, sandwiches etc., as well as making milkshakes and malted milks.

I felt taken back in time while I whizzed and whirred milkshakes and malted milks using all the old-time equipment. It was the first (and last) time I’d ever done so. Even then I thought it an ancient and rare practice; but a fun one.

Another indulgence of the lost days of my tender years of innocence was the ice cream sundae.  We even prepared sundaes, every day including Sundays at the Cardwell Service Station.

Again, when I was a little girl, I didn’t indulge in ice cream sundaes often because of my not being overly partial to ice cream. I probably could count on one hand how many times I’ve eaten sundaes.  My brother, Graham and our friends loved them, however. They made up for my shortcomings; and I do eat ice cream now – so all is well and at peace in the world.

Perhaps franchises like Gloria Jean, Baskin-Robbins and similar are keeping the practices of milkshake, malted milk and ice cream sundae-making alive and kicking.

I don’t frequent such places.  I live such a sheltered life! I should get out more, I hear you say.  On with my deerstalker hat, I’m grabbing my magnifying glass to go in search of an old-fashioned milk bar. 

Banana Split: Slice banana in half, lengthwise; place banana on side of long sundae dish. Using strawberry, chocolate and vanilla ice cream, scoop one of each flavour and place into the dish between the banana slices. Top ice cream with whipped cream; place a maraschino cherry on top of each scoop; drizzle with chocolate and strawberry syrups; sprinkle with chopped nuts, if desired.

Peaches & Cream Sundae: Using strawberry, chocolate and vanilla ice cream, place a scoop of each into sundae dish. Put drained, canned peach slices on sides; top ice cream with whipped cream.  Place 1/2tsp crushed canned pineapple on top of ice cream scoops; decorate with cherries with stems; drizzle with strawberry syrup.

Never On a Sundae: Place a big scoop of vanilla ice cream in bottom of chilled, glass dessert dishes; add a layer of sliced strawberries; drizzle with dark chocolate sauce. Add another scoop of ice cream; then a layer of blueberries; drizzle with chocolate sauce. Top with whipped cream; drizzle with chocolate sauce; garnish with a whole strawberry.

Brandied Berry Milk Shake: Place 2c vanilla ice cream, 1/2c each blackberries, blueberries and strawberries, 1/2c milk and 1/4c brandy into blender; process until smooth.

Piña Colada Shake: Place 1-1/2c frozen, fresh pineapple cubes, 1-1/2c vanilla ice cream, 1/2c coconut extract and 3/4c frozen sliced banana into blender; process until smooth. You could add Malibu instead of the coconut extract if you wanted one with a kick – or not!

R-Rated Shake: Place 1 scoop ice cream, 1 scoop crushed ice, 1/4c cream, 1/2tsp vanilla, ½ banana, 1 liqueur glass of Baileys in blender; process until smooth. Top with whipped cream and choc sprinkles. 


  1. Milkshakes were a very, very rare treat. Sundaes? I might have had two in my life.
    And every so often I still long for a 'proper' chocolate milk shake. And yes, I do mean the ones you remember.
    The cafes were run by Greeks or Italians here too. No exceptions.

  2. Hey there EC. We are similar regarding milkshakes and sundaes it would appear.

    I do, these days, enjoy Peter's Chocolate Drumsticks, interspersed with vanilla ones; and sometimes Heaven on a Stick. I only eat Peter's Ice Cream. It suits my taste buds.I'm not fond of any other brands. Home-made ice cream, of course, is another matter; but I don't make ice cream any more...can't be bothered! lol

  3. The Greeks had the milk bars in Port Pirie where I grew up and the fish and chip shops too. The Italians had the fruit and veg shops.
    I remember summers filled with milkshakes and sundaes, but not too many as I didn't drink much milk. I couldn't drink plain milk, it just felt "wrong" in my mouth and I couldn't swallow it at all, but add ice cream, malt and a double dose of flavouring and I could drink it. I think I had a milkshake a week every summer. Mostly chocolate, but one summer I discovered pineapple milkshakes...mmmm.
    There are plenty of places here that still make milkshakes or thickshakes, (remember those?) but the equipment is newer and the shakes come in tall paper cups. I have a couple of those aluminium cups in the old style, they were on sale in Woolworths a few years ago.
    I enjoyed your photos, particularly the last one of the two little kids sharing a shake.

  4. I am not a big milk drinker ~ it might have something to do with drinking warm milk at morning tea time at school when all children had to have their daily milk drink.

    And for some strange reason I eat more ice cream I. Winter than Summer.

  5. Now I'm salivating for ice cream. :) You've done so many things!

  6. One of the primary rules I live by is that if some is good, then more must be better. When it came to malts, much more meant much, much better, and there was one day when my mom went to prove to me that too much of a good thing is not good. I don't remember just how old I was, but I do remember that five very large chocolate(?) malts did me in. I have not consumed anything malted since, and just the smell of malt-ball candy makes me feel quite queasy. So, I will stick with plain milk shakes, and whole milk is the best for us, as far as I am concerned.

  7. Hi River...the Greeks were prominent everywhere in our cities and country towns running the milk bars, fish & chip shops; and in Gympie two Greek families also had two rather large, competing greengrocery outlets, also. And they were all lovely families, too. I went to school with the kids.

    I've never had a thick shake from memory..perhaps one...maybe I tried a little of one; I doubt I've ever had a whole one...they didn't appeal to me.

    Thanks for popping in. :)

  8. Hi Carol...we had the free milk at our "little break" at primary school, too.

    I like milk and most days I have a large mug full of it. And now with the cooler weather coming on, I'll be back having a big mug of hot Milo and milk each night.

    It doesn't seem strange to me that you eat more ice cream in winter than summer, at all.

    At one stage an Italian fellow I had a relation with back in the late Eighties and I were thinking about opening a gelato shop in Cairns along the waterfront there. He lived in northern Italy and would come to stay with me for six months and then head back home...then to return again...the idea and the relationship both fizzled out; although we're still friends. I wrote about that period in my life in my blog a while back.

  9. No wonder Aussies are fat!!!!

  10. Hey Lynn...I hope you gave into your desire! There is no point doing without, I's too short. Bog in! :)

  11. Hi Jerry...I never like malted milks; every one around me did, both malted and milkshakes, but I preferred just the plain and simple flavoured milk to either one.

    I only drink whole milk, too. Take care. :)

  12. And all the Poms and Scots are skinny, starving shadows of themselves are they, Adullamite?

    It must be from all the days they spend surfing and running along the sandy beaches under sunny skies; their tanned, lithe bodies setting hearts a-fluttering! ;)

  13. Oh this does take me back Lee. Pity milk shakes are so fattening though! I'm not a big milk drinker these days but remember I loved drinking it when I was pregnant many years ago.

  14. The milk shake is a basic food group as far as I am concerned!

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

    PS: nice comment else where about the lunacy of our recent news coverage.

  15. G'day there Helsie, you tripper you! I'm loving your trip...thanks for taking me along with you. :)

    I still drink milk, daily...I love it; but I've never been a huge fan of milkshakes or malted milks, although they are a big feature of this post!

  16. Well this was the wrong week to start a diet. I'll probably be enjoying an R-rated shake tonight. Especially since it's going to be 94 degrees today.

  17. Hi there, Dexter! Sorry! I'll shoulder the blame! :)

  18. Hey there Stewart...thanks for popping in. Please don't be a stranger! I'll shout you a milkshake next time! ;)

  19. Yum! You should write a memoir, Lee. I love your stories.

  20. Hiya RK....thanks. My memoirs would probably get banned...censored! ;)

  21. I enjoyed the odd malted milkshake to which an erstwhile boyfriend introduced me as well as a choc banana sundae or three! They were my favourite.

    There was a place in Brisbane CBD which was of the 50s vintage with the dark wood, checkered tablecloths and homemade goodies. I can't remember the name of it now! I think it was moved somewhere else during the refurbishing of the David Jones building a few years ago.

    I enjoyed that stroll down memory lane, Lee. Thank you!

  22. It sounds like it probably was the Shingle Inn to which you refer, Robyn.

    The original was in Edward Street and when all changes were made to the CBD it was demolished, but the walls, fixtures and fittings etc., were all stored away for future use. See below:

    "The Shingle Inn is a Brisbane restaurant and bakery franchise which commenced with the flagship store in Edward Street, Brisbane in 1936 as a Tudor inn style restaurant. It is one of the oldest continuing restaurants in the city of Brisbane.[1] It has been owned since 1975 by the Bellchambers Family.[2]

    With the closure of the flagship store in the early 2000s due to the new Queens Plaza development, a franchise of the restaurant was created with a dozen stores throughout the Brisbane central business district, suburbs,the Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast.[3]

    With the re-opening of Brisbane City Hall after its $215 million refurbishment in April 2013, the fittings and layout of the original Shingle Inn in Edward Street were replaced inside the new City Hall, re-creating the olde-world Tudor atmosphere of the original 1936 restaurant.

    The Shingle Inn is a considerably well known aspect of Brisbane's dining culture, where it has welcomed generations of diners, and was also popular with American service personnel during World War II.[4]

    As at December 2013, Shingle Inn has a franchise network of 40 cafes in Queensland, New South Wales, ACT, Victoria and most recently Perth."

    Thanks for dropping in. I'm glad you enjoyed the stroll. :)

  23. We never had these places serving milkshakes in England, or if we did they were pretty unusual. So the idea of going somewhere and having a milkshake or sundae still seems slightly exotic to me! :)

  24. Hello there, Jenny. Wow! That's so strange; I never knew that...just think what you missed out on! :)

    Thanks for coming by; it's always nice to see you. :)