High Street Dreams

Wealth from gold and wool, combined with a growing population, facilitated the expansion and transformation of shops across Australia at the end of the 19th century. Shops and shopping were revolutionised from the simple provision of goods, via markets and door-to-door pedlars, to a myriad of outlets and an extraordinary range of items.

Where once shopping was done out of necessity, by the end of the 19th century it had also become a form of entertainment – a leisurely activity, an art practised by the rising wealthy middle class.

As Australia became a more modernised consumer society during the 20th century and the 'high street' shops began to lose custom to the suburban shopping malls, the pleasure of shopping was gradually being eroded. Shopping was developing into something to be dispensed with as quickly and as efficiently as possible, rather than remaining as a social activity - strolling about, meeting friends, doing a little business, enjoying the passing parade.