The Top Ten Things to do in Robe SA in the 1980’s


Times have changed, the world moves pretty fast. Information overload means you no longer have time to stop and smell the roses and why bother anyway when you can watch someone else do it with after effects and theme music on Youtube – right?.  As I started my day this morning I wondered ‘how did we keep ourselves amused as kids in Robe?’  What did we do before iphones or, for that mater, any telephonic device. You couldn’t move more than two meters from landlines due to the curly leash and your father giving you the wind up signal in the background anyway.  There were no laptops, ipads, ipods, wifi, Netflix, spotify, shopify or any other ‘ify’ and music and movies had to be rewound, yes young people REWOUND before you could watch them again.  As I reminisced I realised I was smiling so I thought it important to share. Please note young people – I’m sure that most of these are either illegal or very dangerous (in fact I’m pretty sure that some of them are both) so do as I say and not as I do (did).  Oh, and if you are one of my children reading this and I catch you doing some of these I’ll make you turn around and pull your pants down so I can smack your arse and make you say “thank you mother, may I have another”.  So here are the top ten things I did in Robe in the 1980’s:

  1. Bonnet Surfing: Get a rusty old car, remove the bonnet and tie it to the tow bar of another salt weathered car with a length of Rope.  Place the bonnet, upside down in the shallows of Robes magnificent Long Beach. Now sit on the upturned bonnet, hold on, thumbs up and have a mate or three tow you behind.
  2. Heading to Intro: A shortened name for the area once known as the Introductory, now called ‘The Gums’ at the edge of Little Dip National Park.  Get a large group of friends and meet in the clearing at night.  Light a fire and sit around talking and drinking.  It’s not really binge drinking, there’s only so much ‘goon’ or Stones Green Ginger Wine one can swallow without throwing up and going home.
  3. Lake & Music: Again, get a large group of friends and meet in the clearing at the edge of Lake Fellmongery.  Light a fire and get someone to put a mixed tape on in the only car with decent speakers.  Delight in listening to one friend as he channels James Reyne by singing Australian Crawls Reckless through a one meter length of round drainage pipe.
  4. The Fun Parlor: Crush your friends top score on Meteor through the day or dance the night away at one of the special ‘disco’ nights inclusive of spinning, sparkling disco ball at The Fun Parlor.  Housed where the Chinese Restaurant ‘Dons Kitchen‘ now stands this epicentre of teenage life in Robe was the place to hang out, catch up and invest small stacks of twenty cent pieces.
  5. Go Crabbing: Pinch a pair of your mums pantyhose (you may have to tell her they already had a ladder) and get a chop or two. Stuff the chop into the pantyhose and dangle it over the edge of the rocks at low tide off the end of The Breakwater.  In just a couple of minutes you’ll have 10cm red rock crabs trying to get the meat out of the stocking and getting their pointy legs caught in the pantyhose.  Occasionally a large orange Octopus will try it’s luck at getting the chop or the crabs and scare the shit out of you.
  6. Hold a Seance: There’s plenty of old buildings and spooky places in Robe to gather around the Ouija board, freak out and run around screaming like idiots.  A glass, a few pieces of paper with the alphabet plus a YES and a NO, a few excited friends, a candle and a bit of imagination.  You’ll then have some very tall stories to last a lifetime.
  7. Camp on Long Beach: If you got yourself organised you could spend all day and night on Long Beach in good weather.  A hot plate for the fire, an esky, sausages, bread, sauce, a sleeping bag or doona and some good friends. Listen to music, talk, laugh and skinny dip in the moonlight. Magic.
  8. Dine on the Pontoon:  Get a friend or ten and buy yourselves something to eat and drink.  Wrap it up in plastic bags along with a towel, a book, some coconut oil and even a little radio.  Put everything in a garbage bag and place it on top of a boogie board.  Swim out to the pontoon with your stash, enjoy the day and watch the sun go down with friends.
  9. Watch a movie – at The Insitute: Before the digital age, when local TV consisted of SES 8 and the ABC we would go and watch a movie in The Institute. The big old film reels would clack away and be projected up onto the white wall behind the stage.  The old wooden chairs were terribly uncomfortable and you couldn’t hear anything because people mucked around and rolled jaffas down the aisles. However if you were really lucky they wouldn’t get the program quite right. So when you sat down to enjoy ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ a little bit of wee would come out and nightmares for years when they showed ‘Alien’ instead.
  10. Foreshore For Sure: Park your cars side by side along the Foreshore car park opposite The Institute in the late afternoon.  Play another mixed tape, muck about on the lawns, refresh yourself from the esky in the boot and watch the sun sink into the turquoise waters of Guichen Bay.  There are no mobile phones, no Facebook, no messages or texts so your friends will just have to find you when they drive past looking for you.  Simple.

Got a favorite memory? I’d love to hear your fondest moment of loving, living and enjoying Robe with friends in the 80s.

6 Comments Add yours

  1. Rudy Nunan says:

    riding motorbikes out in the Sandhills
    Also motor cross out a the track


    1. Deb Mackey says:

      Cheers Rudy, great memories!


  2. Fetlock says:

    Going to the mudtrack – tonight….


    1. Deb Mackey says:

      Just like you, don’t get that pretty face dirty!


  3. Dennis Chapman says:

    Jumping in the stinky mud at the outlet then walk to Foxes beach anx wash off , stinky farts for days, Alby Mangles world safari at the institute, playing bingo at the golf club, yaht beach, seaview caravan park parties Ian Rignier ,then Dennis Bounty telling us to keep it quiet.


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