The Fiji Centre opened in Mosman on July 9, 1968.

By ANNA USHER

On the busy corner of Ourimbah and Spit Rd, a commercial building known as Island Centre opened to fascinated locals in July 1968.

It was like nothing ever seen before in Sydney.

The three-storey mecca, built by entrepreneur Hal Hendon, boasted a Pacific Islands trinket shop, cafe, fine dining restaurant, rooftop lounge, and a state-of-the-art “discotheque”.

Located on the corner of Ourimbah and Spit Rd, the centre lasted just five months.

On the busy corner of Ourimbah and Spit Rd, a commercial building known as Island Centre opened to fascinated locals in July 1968.

It was like nothing ever seen before in Sydney.

The three-storey mecca, built by entrepreneur Hal Hendon, boasted a Pacific Islands trinket shop, cafe, fine dining restaurant, rooftop lounge, and a state-of-the-art “discotheque”.

The Island Centre cost $250,000 to set up and had its own Discotheque.

Called “The Fijian” the fine dining restaurant was set over two levels, with the higher room carpeted and the main floor covered with straw matting.

A fountain shaped like a Tiki, with water spouting from its mouth, could be found in the middle of the opulent centre.

With room for 180 guests, the idea was to enjoy dinner and shopping before heading downstairs to dance the night away.

Sheeted with green vinyl and bamboo, the walls were adored with carved masks, wood carvings, turtle shells, war clubs and outrigger canoes.

“Tropical shrubs, plants and flowers – all made of plastic and some 7ft high – add touches of realism,” the article reports.

With room for 180 guests, the idea was to enjoy dinner and shopping before heading downstairs to dance the night away at disco “Lali Drum”.

While the $250,000 setup launched with a bang, attracting Sydney’s movers and shakers at a gala charity dinner, the Island Centre couldn’t manage to entice Mosman locals.

Within four months, it had been shuttered.

The corner of Ourimbah and Spit Rd today.

The Pacific Islands monthly magazine of 1 February, 1969 told of numerous complaints by patrons to the Sydney Fiji Visitors Bureau, reporting poorly cooked and expensive food.

“Other Sydney restaurateurs said that the Fiji Restaurant was too big and its prices too high,” the article says.

“Then the discotheque closed, the snack bar closed, and the artifacts shop closed.

“All were rented out to outsiders for office space.”

In December 1968, owner Hal Hendon leased “The Fijian” to caterer Neil Kerslake, before leaving the country and heading for Suva.

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