By Eamon Donnelly

We all remember our childhood corner Milk Bar or the suburban corner shop. The lollies, the snacks, the sweets, the families that ran them, the memories and the milkshakes. Chock-a-bloc, fully illustrated, this technicolour book is a nostalgic trip back to those hot summer afternoons when you met your mates at the corner shop and spent your hard-earned pocket money on a bag of mixed lollies, an ice cream and a milkshake.

Successfully funded via a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter in April 2018. 

“Eamon has a knack for capturing moments of Australian life like few others. Our past needs to be valued, documented and celebrated. The simplicity of the Milk Bar experience, a cherished memory of our childhoods, is one that should be elevated to a higher plane. Get behind this. I certainly am.”
Tim "Rosso" Ross, Australian Comedian, writer, radio host, social commentator and design nerd.

The Milk Bar, you might not know, was invented in Australia. It was originally based on the American Soda Bars with the idea being brought back to Australia by a Greek born Sydney entrepreneur of the name of Joachim Tavlaridis or ‘Mick Adams.’ He brought the idea of Soda Bars to Sydney and in 1932, opened the Black & White 4d Milk Bar. Instead of sodas he sold milkshakes, thus calling his business a “Milk-Bar”. What became of the original Milk Bars that Adams invented is a rich a layered story with many reinventions and incantations over the past 75 years, this book is a document of the last of the Milk Bars across Australia, who in their hey-day were one of the most successful small businesses this country had seen.

This book began in 2002, with the first shopfront photo taken of my childhood Milk Bar. It was called “Dave & Peggy's”, run by the Hawkings in East Geelong, and had by then closed. This was such a strong and vivid personal memory for me. The photo was my keepsake of growing up with ‘Dave & Peggy’s’ around the corner, memories of Saturday afternoons spent riding my BMX up the lane to the Milk Bar with a pocket of 1 and 2 cent coins to grab a milkshake, ice cream, Big M or a bag of mixed lollies.
That closed shopfront of my childhood Milk Bar sparked my interest in other Milk Bars dotted in the suburb that I had grown up with. I noticed a change in Australia's suburban landscape; the Milk Bar, that humble corner shop which was such a big part of everyday life for Australia, was slowly fading away. This sparked a personal photography project to document the last of the Australian Milk Bars.

This book documents it all from the last of the traditional Milk Bars. From The Rio in Summer Hill to outback Bells of Broken Hill, The Olympia in Parramatta before its closing and down the back-streets-of-the-suburbs corner stores all across Australia. The project itself, my archive of photography, features over 6,000 photographs of shopfronts, interiors, details, lolly counters, milkshakes, rusted awnings, empty shop floors, faded adverts, hand painted signs, peeling stickers, ghost signs of a faded summers past.

  • Hardcover
  • Pages: 424
  • Size: 260mm wide x 250mm high
  • Weight 2.3kg
  • Proudly Printed & bound in Melbourne, Australia


    Intro: Milkshakes, Memories & Mixed Lollies by Eamon Donnelly

    Features Milk Bar memories from childhood, growing up in the 1980s, the brands, the ads, the essence of a corner store, the colour and design, the mixed lollies, milkshakes, the fading decline of the humble Milk Bar. All accompanied by brands and ads, archival and contemporary photography.

    The Birth of the Milk Bar by historians Leonard Janiszewski and Effy Alexakis from Macquarie University Sydney

    Documentary photographer, Effy Alexakis, and socio-cultural historian, Leonard Janiszewski, have been researching and collecting, interviewing and photographing, publishing and exhibiting on the Greek-Australian historical and contemporary experience since 1982. Their project and archives, In Their Own Image: Greek- Australians, is based at Macquarie University, Sydney. Greek Cafes & Milk Bars of Australia (Halstead Press 2016) is their most recent book.
    They have written an exclusive never before published essay for the book titled ‘The Birth of the Milk Bar’ which charts to beginnings of the first Milk Bar opened in the world in Sydney in 1932, through to the invention of the Milkshake, the architecture of original Milk Bars, social changes of the times, influence of the Milk Bar throughout the world, all accompanied with rare archival photography, never before seen adverts, graphics and clippings from the archives of CAMBA (the Convenience and Mixed Business Association) dating back to the 1930s.

    "We are thrilled to be involved with Eamon's book. His commitment and passion in documenting the fading days of the milk bar is evident. Having lost a few iconic Milk Bars in recent years this book is a timely reflection and a valuable keepsake of an era that is slowly disappearing. Eamon's photographs are influenced by his designer's eye - the shop exteriors show a high sense of drama with intense colour and counterbalanced by very graphic images of the advertising and signage." Effy Alexakis

    Memories from behind the counter top

    Features memories and stories from past owners I have interviewed accompanied by their intimate family photographs from behind the counter top.

    The Milk Bars Project: Faded Facades, Sun-kissed Signs & Inviting Interiors