Servos of the old west



They’ve been, with very few exceptions, stomped out of existence by mega-servos that come with car washes, shops and fast food outlets.

But like the corner shops that have met a similar fate, their ghosts linger.

Often they’re still in use for automotive purposes.

Sometimes they’ve been utilised for other uses.

Sometimes they lie idle.

And sometimes all traces are gone save for the memories of locals.

This survey is not meant to be comprehensive or methodical.

Basically, it’s the result of a day’s driving that took in those old servos of which I was already aware, with a happy stumble of a couple of neat surprises thrown in.

If readers send me photos, I’ll do a follow-up spread!



Douglas Parade Bait and Tackle, Douglas Parade, Spotswood (near The Warmies).



Francis Street, Yarraville.



Corner Barnet Street and Pentland Parade, Yarraville.

Bowsers intact, but I’m told the auto repair shop that operated here for many years is no longer doing so.



Sunshine Road, Tottenham.



Sunshine Road, Sunshine.



Andy’s Servo, corner Anderson and Glengala roads, Sunshine.



Sunshine Social, Glengala Road, Sunshine West.



Ballarat Road, Footscray.



Corner Napier and Whitehall streets, Footscray (opposite the Reverence Hotel).

The proprietor of the mechanics shop here told me the tanks remained intact and that he reckons it was servo until some time in the 1950s.

He showed me an invitation to exhibition launch featuring the work of signwriting outfit Lewis and Skinner. See details here.

And the boss also informed me the premises/property operated as a Cobb & Co depot in the early 1900s!



Corner Charles and Gamon streets, Seddon.

I was unsure of servo status of this building.

So I dropped in to visit my friends Deborah and Roger, who have lived right opposite for a long time.

As far as we can figure, a very rough chronology of the building’s uses runs like this:

Bery’s Charcoal Grill until the mid-90s
The Bowser
Charles and Gamon (current).

So The Bowser name leads us to conclude it was indeed a servo at one time.

The charcoal grill, serving Macedonian food, was much loved and has been discussed in comments on previous CTS stories.



Anderson Street, Yarraville.

A final surprise!

Deborah flipped through the relevant pages of the history of Yarraville she and Roger produced in conjunction with the Footscray Historical Society.

And there they were – a couple of very old bowsers stationed outside this building, which is these days a health services centre, located right next door to Coracle (formerly happy Four).

Chick N Ranch


149 Minerva Rd, Geelong West. Phone: 5298 1921

Chicken shop in an old servo?

It drew me like a magnet.

I chat to the main Ranch hand, Tony Kopty, outside while I take photos.

He tells me that while his mob have been running the show for only a couple of years, the once-was-a-servo has served as a chicken shop of one variety or another for 20.

I tell him it’s notable that several posters on the joint’s Facebook page use words such as “great for hangovers” or some such.

“You should see them on Sundays, about midday, rolling up here like zombies,” he says with a laugh.

Fuelled by the appeal of the location and its former use, as well as the outfit’s cool name, I have notions of something a little more funky than your typical Oz chicken shop.

What I get is your typical Oz chicken shop.

For me, two of the benchmarks for a cutting-edge, exemplary chicken shop experience are real cutlery/crockery and coleslaw that’s not drowning in mayo.

I get none of that here. And stupidly, I forget to take a pic or two before getting stuck into my lunch of half a chook, chips, gravy, coleslaw and soft drink. By the time I remember, it’s not in the least bit photogenic.

The chicken is good, the chips a bit tired on it but OK, while the salad has so much mayo I’m half expecting it to flow out the door.

Yes, I’ve had better chick shop feeds … but, by heck, I’ve had plenty a whole lot worse, too.

So it’s a typical Oz chicken shop meal in a typical Oz chicken shop.

Closer to home, another outfit that lives in an old servo can be found at Stephz in Sunshine.