From The World of Charmian Clift (1966)

The novelist Charmian Clift returned to Australia in 1964 after over a decade overseas, chiefly on the Greek island of Hydra, with her husband George Johnston. As a columnist for the Sydney Morning Herald, she visited Roselands, Australia’s first shopping mall:

I know that I am being idiotically romantic to pine for the intensely personal in commercial transactions. The supermarket is probably cheaper really and the range is wider and what does it matter anyway if the lady behind the cash register keeps her eyes and her hands on the keys and doesn’t waste time with idle gossip? She’s got her job to do and nobody’s going to pay her extra to learn the names of your children.

Last week I had occasion to visit Babylon. I met my party at the Raindrop Fountain, between Household and High Fashion, I think, but it could have been between two other departments because I was lost for about half an hour and there were a number of other fountains of equal magnificence as well as a profusion of statuary and a bewildering number of escalators ascending and descending tirelessly between an assortment of heavens – food heavens and fashion heavens and beauty heavens and book heavens and kitchen heavens and Heaven knows what else, but I am certain a particular heaven for every particular taste.

It all tired me rather, and it seemed to take hours to get home after and I was stupidly depressed by such overwhelming scale and thinking that perhaps I am unfitted basically for life in this society when there was a discreet knock on the door and it was Mr Mannall carrying a cardboard box of groceries and we had a pleasant chat while he unpacked them on to the kitchen table and the docket was handwritten and itemized in pounds shillings and pence as well as dollars and I was so cheered that I sat right down and wrote to my friends the Katsikas brothers in Greece. I hope they are both Lord Mayors at least.

–Charmian Clift, Australian, 1923-1969

Rain drop fountain, Roselands Shopping Centre, ca 1960s (City of Canterbury Library)

Raindrop Fountain, Roselands Shopping Centre, ca 1960s (City of Canterbury Library)

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