COFFEE @ Rose Bay Diner, Rose Bay 2029.
Not so long ago Rose Bay’s Lyne Park was used as an international airport. Fortunately, today the amazing location is enjoyed for its children’s playground, basketball court, sports field, tennis courts and caffeine fixes available from the impressive Rose Bay Diner.
Although the Rose Bay Diner is located in the Lyne Park car park the cafe enjoys a lovely outlook with mature Morton Bay fig trees overhanging the building and water views to the west. On a sunny day the Rose Bay Diner provides an ideal spot to enjoy some downtime and on cold days the radiant ceiling heaters add to the ambiance.
The extensive use of timber is nicely balanced by the all-embracing use of windows instead of walls and the splash of colour provided by the cushions, white chairs, fruit bowls and cutlery holders. There is a very nice share table, private tables and a few outside tables that enable patrons to enjoy a coffee after they have walked their dogs at the park.
The coffee and house made muffin were great. Over the years I have visited all the cafes in the Rose Bay area and the Rose Bay Diner is by far the most appealing contemporary space.
NOW & THEN around Rose Bay
Despite New South Head Road extending through Rose Bay and as far as Vaucluse by 1839, Rose Bay remained a sparsely populated, secluded picnic area throughout the 1800s. Chinese Market gardens occupied the site of the Royal Sydney Golf Club until the late 1890s.
With the subdivision of estates and the extension of the tram service east to Dover Road in 1900, the first shops began to appear. These were quickly followed by the establishment of schools and churches.
By 1917, Woollahra Council was acquiring land for the widening of New South Head Road, which was proclaimed a main road under the Local Government Act of 1919. Under this Act, Woollahra Council undertook a ‘beautification’ scheme with the foundation stone for the sea wall being laid in 1924.
The Rose Bay Promenade was designed to enable both road users and pedestrians to enjoy the water views. In 1926 the much wider New South Head Road and its tramlines was officially opened. Buses replaced the tram service in 1960.
In the 1930s, the Empire Air Mail Scheme was developed to transport mail to England by air. Despite local community resistance, Rose Bay became Australia’s first international airport for flying boats.
The service soon began to carry paying passengers; it took 10 days and 29 stopovers, all on water, to reach England. During World War II, the flying boats were used by the RAAF to support the war effort. At the end of the war the seaplanes were used to repatriate surviving Australian prisoners of war.
International flights for private use resumed in 1946, at which time flying was prohibitively expensive for all but the wealthy. With the introduction of jet airliners in the early 1950s, flying boats became less popular with the choice of destinations reduced to Lord Howe Island or Norfolk Island.
The service was discontinued in 1974. Today, scenic flights around the harbour and to Palm Beach are still available from Rose Bay.
The Rose Bay Sea Wall, Promenade and setting is recognised by the National Trust of Australia and is a locally listed heritage item under Schedule 5 of the Woollahra Council LEP. In 2014 the significant historical values of the Sea Wall, Promenade and setting were listed in the NSW State Heritage Register.
A photographic record of my visit to Rose Bay, Sydney
In 1906 the first post office service in Rose Bay operated from a general store and by 1927 a dedicated building was opened at 757 New South Head Road, Rose Bay. Today the building is a locally listed heritage item.
As the images above illustrate, Rose Bay Post Office has been adaptively reused and today it operates as a Woolworths Supermarket. I think Woolworths has done a brilliant job adapting the space; it is comfortable, open, engaging and incorporates a perfect mix of the old and the new. Various forms of interpretation are visible including large format historical images and the old safe door and front doors are on display.
As the demand for traditional postal services has changed over the last few decades, Australia Post has sold off many of its suburban Post Office buildings.
Numerous heritage listed Post Offices have struggled to find long term tenants and subsequently sit unoccupied and fall into a state of disrepair. Killara Post Office is one such example. There is a need for the sensitive adaptive reuse of heritage listed Post Office buildings; when combined with contemporary design elements it can result in an exciting space and a marketing opportunity for businesses.
The ongoing use of a heritage listed building will ensure that there are sufficient funds available to maintain and care for the significant heritage fabric so that future generations can enjoy the buildings.
The images below provide further examples of adaptively reused suburban Post Office buildings around Sydney.
Post Offices are often amongst the oldest public buildings in an area and are generally located on prominent sites in close proximity to banks and civic buildings; most are protected by heritage listing.
Dictionary of Sydney, Office of Environment & Heritage – State Heritage Inventory, Woollahra Municipal Council website,
Historical images courtesy of Flickr Commons and the State Library of NSW.