The Woolworths store in the early days of Booval Fair.
The Woolworths store in the early days of Booval Fair. Contributed

Flashback to '69: How shopping centre has changed

ONE of Ipswich's most loved shopping centres is turning the clock back to the '60s this weekend to celebrate a momentous milestone.

The community is invited to head down to Booval Fair on Saturday, November 9, for a fun-filled day to mark the centre's 50th birthday.

Booval Fair marketing manager Shannon Birchley is hoping for a big turnout for the celebrations, which will be broken into two sessions.

"There will be lots of nostalgia on the day as part of the celebrations," she said.

"Staff from our different retail stores will be getting involved by dressing up in 1960s outfits and putting on special offers.


Booval Fair in 1974.
Booval Fair in 1974. Contributed

"In our morning session of fun activities we asked Carmel Carmichael to come in and she is going to be doing some 1960s cooking demonstrations, which will be really fun and interactive.

"She's going to be doing scones, a 1960s snapshot of a high tea, and showing you how to make the perfect sponge cake, with lots of samples to eat.

"We will also have a spider station set up.

"Our display cabinets will also have 1960s crockery in them to set the scene, and I have lots of posters to go around the centre to inform people what else happened in 1969 when the centre opened.

"It was the same year as man walked on the moon.

"There will also be an array of kids' activities, with kids being able to make their own 1960s style glider and DIY hippie bands."

A cake cutting ceremony will also be held at 11am.

The festivities will continue into the afternoon, with more activities such as a special performance by the Ipswich Cambrian Choir, and a special film titled Beings of Booval being released before a movie under the stars.

"In the afternoon we're taking all the action over to the carpark, where we will be having a rockabilly band setting the scene with lots of '60s songs," Miss Birchley said.

"We will also have food trucks, an activity where kids can make their own cardboard box car for the movie screening later that night, which will be Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

"Make sure you bring your own seat.

"I wanted to pick a movie that was released in the same year as the centre opened.

"But before the movie we will also be launching the Beings of Booval film documentary, which will go for a few minutes.

"It focuses on the people from the centre and their stories.

"It was such an amazing project to work on, and it makes me a little emotional, just listening to all the stories of people who come here every day, some of whom who worked here when the centre first opened."


A classic Holden car parked outside the Woolworths Family Centre, now known as Booval Fair, in 1969.
A classic Holden car parked outside the Woolworths Family Centre, now known as Booval Fair, in 1969. Contributed

The block of land that now houses Booval Fair was once farmland, before becoming known as the Booval Open Fields, a space for local schoolchildren to come and play.

But as the city began to grow and more people moved into the area, the site also became home to a number of buildings, including one belonging to the West Moreton Co-Operative Society and Polar Ice Works, which later became known as Dick's Ice Works.

The owners of Dick's Ice Works also built a tennis court on part of the land where the centre now sits.

The shopping centre we know today is vastly different to the one that opened its doors in 1969.

The centre was first called The Woolworths Family Centre, and featured two major retailers, Woolworths and Big W.

The centre first opened its doors on November 25, 1969, so the celebrations are starting early, but it's a milestone worth an extended party.

"Woolworths and Big W were combined in the beginning," Miss Birchley said.

"It was a supermarket and a department store, and it also had a cafe.

"They sold a lot of electronics - it was your one-stop shop."

There were also a number of smaller specialty stores.

Today though, after a number of renovations, the centre now boasts 60 retailers, including a wide range of services.

The centre is also about to embark on some additional works, which will bring in new retailers.

"The outside façade will be done up, as well as the entry ways.

"It's going to look really nice and fresh and modernise the outside," Miss Birchley said.

"It will be a little bit of a challenge while we are doing the works, but we will be doing one section at a time.

"We are really excited about this and I think a lot of our customers are also excited to see what will come."

Miss Birchley is hoping to see lots of people from the community head along to the centre to take part in the 50th birthday celebrations.

Booval Fair is located on the corner of Brisbane and South Station Roads, Booval.