Greg Barila

Journalist. Editor. Social Media specialist.

Watching a dying business try to pretend the carnival isn’t over is one of the saddest scenes

Vale the Brickworks Markets. Bulldozers demolish buildings to make way for a $38 million Woolworths supermarket and speciality shops.
RIGHT to the end, the ribs, grilled beautifully over an open pit, were worth the trip alone.
But on those last few visits to the old Brickworks Markets, we sat there licking greasy fingers and watching a few stragglers wander aimlessly around a ghost town – past faded signs and broken railings, quiet beer halls and shuttered market stalls.
Watching a dying business try to pretend the carnival isn’t over is one of the saddest scenes there is.
Just take a drive out to the Junction Markets at Kilburn if you don’t believe me. Actually, on second thoughts, don’t.
The Brickworks operated as a market for 30 years and were such a fixture of my growing up, that it’s hard not to feel emotional now they’ve finally given way to a huge Woolworths, grog shop and speciality stores.
And I know I’m not Robinson Crusoe there.
“Ahh the Brickworks. What a great day out it was with mum & dad,” Alan of Henley Beach wrote in a comment on
“All that great food ... especially that outdoor BBQ with the char-grilled ribs.
“It was the main rival to Magic Mountain and our preferred place to spend a Sunday afternoon.
“From the age of 6 to 16 I’d say we spent 100 Sundays at the Brickworks”.
Yeah, I know, progress and all of that.
But it’s hard not to ask how and why a place that once thrived for three decades as a weekend family attraction could have wound up dying such a miserable death.
It’s also not the hardest question to answer.
It was there in those last depressing days, in the smutty T-shirts, tacky merchandise, dusty bric-a-brac and faded infrastructure.
The Brickworks was great in the ’80s. And there it is.
Adelaide moved on and the market did not; didn’t invest in the future, adapt to offer products people wanted to buy, offer experiences they couldn’t get at their local Westfield.
And it’s a great pity because the Brickworks, with their beautiful tunnels and heritage-listed kiln and chimney, are unique and should be one of the city’s major selling points.
The Government has done much to promote the regions to the rest of the country and world.
But when it comes to transforming historic gems in the heart of Adelaide, like the Brickworks, the old Islington railyards, the tunnels under the city, our tourism officials have apparently been M.I.A.
Don’t even get me started on the missed opportunity that is Port Adelaide.
But anyway, the bulldozers have done their work and a mega-supermarket complex is happening apace.
Huge concrete walls are rising quickly where once, and for decades, they made bricks.
The best bits of the market – the fresh fruit and veggie sellers, the butcher, the Indian grocer, the fish shop – have all been displaced to a shed on the corner of South Rd and Manton St.
But with a major expansion of South Rd around the corner, who knows what will happen to them?
There’s talk of the traders coming back when the Woolworths is finished in the next few months.
And I’m not the only one with fingers crossed the markets can be revived somehow.
Adelaide needs a lot of things, but a vanilla-flavoured shopping centre isn’t one of them.
“Would LOOOVE to bring this experience back to life,” Alan of Henley Beach wrote.
And bring back the barbecue ribs.
Greg Barila is Social Media Editor at The Advertiser.