Goldie’s Roadhouse, 30 High Street, Willunga

Goldie’s Roadhouse was built by Hillman (Goldie) and Ruth Goldfinch on a block of land purchased from Harry and Evelyn Pope, owners of the general store just down the road at 22 High Street. The foundations were laid in 1954 and building progressed slowly throughout 1954 and 1955. It was opened by the SA Manager of Shell Co. in September 1955.

Goldie’s Roadhouse sold Shell petrol, provided food in the Cafe, had a mechanical repairs and servicing workshop, delivered fuel to farms and businesses nearby as Willunga Distributors, and also had a franchise to sell Austin motor vehicles. It was a family business. Hillman and Ruth Goldfinch’s son Jim was the mechanic and son-in-law Fred Hamilton helped Goldie with the fuel delivery. Daughters Jo Goldfinch and Mary Hamilton were also involved – the Cafe was run by Ruth and daughter Jo (Mrs Josie Cook).

Apart from the Goldfinch family, a number of local people were employed in the business, including Peter Moritz, Reg Hall, Roger Stahl and Tony Liddy who worked as mechanics. Joyleen Mann and Judy Dunn worked in the Cafe. Dot and Reg Bradley were also employed there. The main customers at the Cafe included McLaren Vale Fruit Packers workers and Stock and Station agents who came in for meals. The SA Tourist Bureau brought customers for morning and afternoon teas usually on Wednesdays.

Goldie’s Roadhouse closed in 1961, for health reasons. (Hillman Goldfinch died in 1968, aged 68 years). It was never a Golden Fleece petrol station – the name ‘Goldies’ was derived from Hillman Goldfinch’s nickname of “Goldie”’.

The property was sold to Bill Air from McLaren Flat. The premises were then shared by his Willunga Disposals business and Seacombe Electrical Wholesalers. In 1978 Willunga Disposals expanded into the entire area. Later occupants include a hairdresser, the Spock Sisters, Funky Finds and the Farmers Market office. Tango Turtle cafe opened in 2009 in the area originally occupied by Goldie’s Roadhouse Café, now the Golden Fleece Cafe.

Heather Quick remembers: “I remember being at Goldies Roadhouse with my mother during the 1957 bushfires. The ladies of Willunga congregated there & made sandwiches etc, coffee & tea for the firefighters. I can remember men with blackened faces coming into Goldies for a break. I thought it was very exciting but it was a very scary time for the residents of Willunga. Many families & children were evacuated. The fire came down as far as the Catholic Church & records show that about 1500 firefighters from all over arrived to help. My father closed his shop & spent all night out fighting the fire. I am not sure of the exact time but possibly 1959-1961. Goldies Roadhouse was run by the Arend family. It was a popular place with the youth of Willunga as Goldies installed a jukebox & also sold thickshakes, quite a novelty for us. I spent many hours there with my friends”.

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