Hindley Street….1960s and 70s

Hindley Street…..where it all began in earnest

A little known fact is that Adelaide hosted an ice hockey game in Australia back near the turn of the 20th Century in 1904.  Some research indicates a skating rink (ice or roller?) was at the corner of Hindmarsh Square and Pirie Street until 1909 when an open air cinema called Paris opened on the site of the former Elite Skating Rink.  There was also another rink at 91 Hindley Street called the Olympia which became the West’s Picture Theatre (currently the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra Grainger Studio).  Scott Gregory supplied the image and assures me the decor of the theatre seems consistent with the old Olympia.  Ice hockey in Adelaide itself did not take off until much later.

Former location of Olympia Ice Rink.


The St Moritz Ice Rink in Hindley Street rink’s former entrance which was on the second floor of the rectangular building behind.  It gives some idea of the small size of the rink.

It wasn’t until 1959 that Adelaide saw another ice skating rink built, run by an organisation Molony and Gordon from Melbourne.  Anecdotal information states that grandfather of current captain of the AIHL Adelaide Adrenaline team/ Australian Olympic Ice Hockey team Greg Oddy managed or established the rink.  It was located upstairs in an old building near the south eastern corner of Hindley Street and Morphett Street in the very much seedy part of Adelaide.  The rink was powered from the Adelaide Ice Works down the road.  The rink was called St Moritz after the Melbourne sister rink with a decorative mural of a snow covered mountain and chalets at one end of the rink.  Ice skating would have been pretty foreign to the people of South Australia unless you were a European immigrant or from North America.    The dimensions of the building resulted in a small rink (18m across) and probably not really suited for serious ice hockey, but it gave the expats somewhere to play!  The first season was won by a Mapleleafs team.  There was already a 1963/4 Ice Hockey season with the Redwings and Falcons teams being dominant with the Mapleleafs joined mid season.  Original teams for the years 1963-64 were. Senior Division. Falcons, Magpies, Redwings, Tigers followed by the All Stars and Maple Leafs. PeeWee Division. Blackhawks, Lil’ Devils and Saints.  First premiership for Seniors 1964 went to the Maple Leafs, and the PeeWees was won by the Lil’ Devils. The league eventually consisted of the Redwings, Falcons, Tigers and Blackhawks teams, with possibly a shortlived fifth team called the Capitals around the late 1970’s as a junior division team (anecdotal – Mick Simmons) as I recall seeing a logo on the wall.

First Hockey Season 1963-4 Falcons v Redwings


 Early speed skating in 1960s (donated by Richard Williams)

Early figure skating in 1960s (donated by Richard Williams)

I learnt to skate at Hindley St when I was about 5 years old in 1969, and distinctly remember certain aspects of it such as the alpine village scene on one of the back walls and the old skates adorning the walls.  There was a very small grandstand at one end of the rink with very limited viewing along the sidelines, but there would not have been any need for more room as not many in Adelaide actually knew what ice hockey was!!!

First Hockey Season 1963-4 Falcons v Redwings (watch the game from wherever you can)

To document some of this early history I have been lucky enough for Steve Newbound to forward me the late Mac Edwards’ ice hockey photos from the 1960’s.  Mick Simmons provided the information on the first year teams.  Some of the photos contain some of the veteran ice hockey players still floating around the traps today, such as Bill Vis, Rusty Smith, Kevin Brown and Steve Oddy.

State Team 1971, Mac as Coach

Falcons Junior Team 1968 (donated by Richard Williams)

Pretty scary stuff, those steel bars that lined Hindley Street, you would never see that nowadays!  (photo courtesy Rick Peterson/Steve Newbound)