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Cafes, Shops & Cinemas

Photos > Cafes, Shops & Cinemas > Gilgandra NSW - A Kytherian town - c. WWII-1975 - the Monterey Cafe

Photos > Cafes, Shops & Cinemas

submitted by George Poulos on 29.04.2004

Gilgandra NSW - A Kytherian town - c. WWII-1975 - the Monterey Cafe

Gilgandra NSW - A Kytherian town - c. WWII-1975 - the Monterey Cafe
Copyright (2004) George Poulos

I was born in Gilgandra, in 1952, and left after completing my schooling in 1969.

From about the end of WWII, until mid-1975 - Gilgandra, population, 2,900 - was a very Kytherian town.

5 families - the Pentes, Sklavos, Kelly (Koumokellie), Psaltis (Protopsaltis), and Poulos (Tzortzopoulos) - lived in close proximity to each other - culturally, residentially, and commercially.

In the main, Kytherians embraced Kytherians - Gilgandra embraced Kytherians - and Kytherians embraced Gilgandra.

Gilgandrians have a very warm regard for Kytherians. On a recent visit to Gilgandra with my 88 year old father, Con Poulos; retired local plumber, Kevin Walton, on seeing "Con...nnië", rushed over and grabbed him, and kissed him on both cheeks. (I doubt whether Kevin treats his own wife with such affection.) This, despite the fact that they had not seen each other for 33 years.

I was not surprised therefore, when I ventured into the recently opened Cooee Heritage Centre in Gilgandra, to find a glass showcase, on an entire wall, devoted to displays derived from mostly Kytherian Cafes and Shops.

The photograph above is one of the displays of food utensils from the Monterey Cafe, Miller Street, Gilgandra.

The Monterey was owned by George Protopsaltis (Potamos) & Alexandra Protopsaltis (nee Feros) (from Mitata). Both are now deceased.

Before I was born, and when I was young, The Monterey had a large working kitchen - and sold meals at all hours. (Hence the utensils).

Later George and Alexandra opted for "quality of lifë" options - scaling back the restaurant and re-inventing the Monterey as a milk bar and snack shop.

I remember them both with deep affection.

If they were alive, I think both would be very proud of the Cooee Heritage Centre, and the Centre's tribute to them.

About the Cooee Heritage Centre

The Coo-ee Heritage Centre, Gilgandra's Cultural Heritage Centre, was constructed in 2001 and aims to harmoniously represent the cultures and lifestyles, past and present, of the people of the Gilgandra district in a setting conducive to providing education and entertainment.

The Centre demonstrates local major events of regional, state and national significance. Exhibitions include the Cooee March Collection, the Australian Collection and a plotted history of Gilgandra. The Centre is located on the banks of the Castlereagh River with the Gilgandra Visitor Centre.

The architectural design reflects Reconciliation with the Koori Gallery at one end, the European History Gallery at the other with a neutral exhibition space in the centre. The Centre features rammed earth walls and floors, corrugated iron and water tanks. It brings the two cultures together in a peaceful and artistic manner providing a truly enjoyable experience for all visitors.

The middle exhibition space features travelling exhibitions, local artists displays and themed presentations about Gilgandra district, so no two visits to the Centre should ever be the same.

The Gilgandra Visitor Centre is also located within the building. Another aspect of the complex is the Rural Museum, just 200 metres from the Visitor and Coo-ee Heritage Centre. The Rural Museum offers a peep into yesteryear with its vast collection of agricultural artifacts, historical buildings and fascinating stories. Just look for the huge windmill out the front on the Newell Highway. The Rural Museum is open weekends and school holidays between 10am and 4pm with admission being Adults $4 and children $2.

You may also wish to take a stroll into town along the 'Windmill Walk'. A beautiful avenue of trees and local windmills that meanders along the banks of the Castlereagh River towards the centre of town. There are picnic facilities right along the walk with cafes and service stations on the other side of the road offering a variety of snacks and meals.

The Centre is open to the public 7 days a week from 9am to 5pm. Admission is currently free while the displays are being finalised. Bus and school groups are welcome and are encouraged to make a booking at the Gilgandra Visitor Centre on (02) 68472045 or Email us. Local volunteer tour guides are also available.

Contact Details
Gilgandra Shire Council
Ph: (02) 6847 2709
Fax: (02) 6847 2521

You can take the boy out of Gilgandra .... but you can't take Gilgandra out of the boy.

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