Melbourne Artist Salutes The Iconic Aussie Milk Bar

You’ll want to grab yourself a bag of mixed lollies as you join Melbourne artist and photographer Eamon Donnelly for a BMX ride down to the corner shop with his lush large-format hardcover book featuring more than 600 images of Australian milk bars.

Chock-a-block full of Donnelly’s photographs of brightly coloured shopfronts, faded facades, hand-painted signage and shelves stacked to the roof with smokes, milk, newspapers, ice creams and seven types of white bread, the book is the culmination of a 15 year campaign to document milk bars, delis and corner stores all over Australia.

“It was where you met your mates on those hot summer arvos to spend your hard-earned pocket money on a mixed bag, an ice cream or a milkshake.” For Donnelly it was “Dave & Peggy’s”, run by the Hawkings family in East Geelong, Victoria. “A few years ago, I was devastated to find my childhood milk bar had closed down – I always thought it would be there and that one day I could walk through the doors again and revisit my childhood. It sparked a personal photography project to document the last Australian milk bars.”

“Along the way the project tapped into the fond memories so many people have of milk bars, with past owners telling me their stories and giving me their photographs – it grew and became a plan to publish a large format coffee table book,” Donnelly said.

The book also has a written history of the milk bar by Australia’s foremost authorities, historian Leonard Janiszewski and documentary photographer Effy Alexakis from Macquarie University, who co-authored the 2016 book ‘Greek Cafe’s & Milk Bars of Australia’.

Eamon Donnelly
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