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FOND MEMORIES OF COTTON TREE By GARY RATCLIFFE (3 August 2014)

contributed by GRatcliffe
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Cotton Tree PLEASURE CENTRE the only remains left standing after destruction by fire on the 12th.October 1986

COTTON TREE HOW IT WAS

Cotton Tree JUKE BOX  AMI  1961 Continental model also operated in the PLEASURE CENTRE King Street Cotton Tree.  This robotic looking Jukebox was an American Jukebox manufactured in Kogarah, Sydney under licence to AMI in America. AMI Jukeboxes were manufactured in Australia under licence until 1970.   The demise of the Jukebox came when jukeboxes were manufactured without visibility of the record being played, although the demise was very slow.   The reinvention of the Jukeboxes in the CD format lasted for many years as these Jukeboxes could have a selection of around 2000 song titles, but sadly jukeboxes have now almost gone by the way.

28 YEARS AGO

COTTON TREE COTTON TREE INN was originally called Cool Corner Café until Doug & Doris MacLeod modernised and reopened under the new banner of COTTON TREE INN in 1962. Doug & Doris designed the establishment along the lines of an American Diner.  Cotton Tree Inn was the largest café/restaurant in the Maroochydore area which used to cater for all the locals and holidaymakers dishing up great meals, hamburgers, fish & chips, milk shakes, Wimmers soft drinks, Coke sold in bottles and much more. Doug & Doris also operated a Mini Golf adjoining the Cotton Tree Inn.

In the 1960’s and 1970’s most vehicle traffic used to go along Cotton Tree Parade and turn into King Street and then into Sixth Avenue before proceeding to Alexandra Headlands and Mooloolaba, this was before Aerodrome Road became the main arterial road.

Cotton Tree PLEASURE CENTRE (VIEW OF SOME OF THE PINBALL GAMES) AMUSEMENT CENTRE KING St Cotton Tree, was one of the largest amusement centres (in floor area, aprox 550.sq.m) at that time, housing 15 pool tables, around 80 amusement games, jukebox and slot car track photo taken 1970's.

Cotton Tree has long been a place for families and people of all ages to go for relaxation a bite to eat and for their entertainment.

Cotton Tree This upright arcade game was a twin player car racing game where player 1 and player 2 were competing against each other, the both players played for one 20cent coin. The game was bought new in 1971 and remained in the PLEASURE CENTRE for about 5 years.

In the 1940’s and 1950’s people use to go to the picnic areas and swimming area where the Cotton Tree pool now stands and spend their weekends and holidays just soaking up the sun and swimming in the river to cool off and having a nice picnic lunch and in the 1960’s while picnicking they were able to listen to their favourite music on Radio 4NA the local radio station that opened in Nambour in 1964 on the transistor radio. Before eating at café’s and snack bar’s became popular most people took along a thermos flask or bought their hot water from the local shops at Cotton Tree and made their own tea. If they preferred to buy their meals they could eat at the Cool Corner Café on the corner of King Street and Cotton Tree Parade or buy something from the Cotton Tree Store next to Jazzland dance hall.

Cotton Tree ORIGINALLY the PLEASURE CENTRE was the BEACH THEATRE COTTON TREE, owned by the Comino family and screened the last movies in 1969 and this meant that the AMUSEMENT ARCARDE was now in the planning stages.       The 1969 registered name of the popular amusement arcade was PENNY ARCADE AMUSEMENTS and was rebranded  THE PLEASURE CENTRE in 1972 and in 1985 was changed to LOTS OF FUN / PLEASURE CENTRE, this photo is of the front entrance  at KING St Cotton Tree.   This was one of the largest amusement centres at that time, housing 15 pool tables, around 80 amusement games, jukebox and slot car track photo taken 1970's.  To keep the patrons coming back, the games were regularly replaced with new arcade games which kept the patrons trying their skills on the latest games.   The Pleasure Centre at Cotton Tree was one of the most popular meeting places for entertaining the local people and holidaymakers alike and people of all ages frequented the arcade from when it opened in March 1970 until it was destroyed by fire on the 12th. October 1986.  With the Cotton Tree Caravan Park just close by, most holidays the amusement arcade run to capacity with patrons waiting up to 2 hours for a game of pool. The Pleasure Centre housed all the latest in coin operated games from America and Japan which gave all the local patrons the same opportunity for playing the new games as those players in the capital cities. Until Grundy's in Surfers Paradise opened in 1979, the Pleasure Centre was one of the largest privately owned and operated amusement centres in Australia (based on floor area) After the destruction by fire many patrons kept asking when would a new PLEASURE CENTRE be rebuilt on the same site, but that wasn't possible owing to council requirements in regards to onsite car parking, the site wasn't large enough in size to supply onsite car parking.

During the night, big crowds used to go and dance the night away at Jazzland or go to the Beach Theatre and watch all the latest movies.

Cotton Tree COTTON TREE BANDSTAND This is the open air entertainment Bandstand which was located where the Cotton Tree swimming pool now stands. This is the view looking from where Carnival Canoes was operated from.

Before they went to the Picture Show or Dancing they could dine at Las Vegas Bar B Q and enjoy a juicy steak, Las Vegas was located next to Cotton Tree Inn opposite the caravan park.

Cotton Tree ROLLER DROME HAMBURGER SHOP at Cotton Tree. This food outlet first started trading in 1965 at the same time as the opening of the ROLLERDROME and was owned by Bob Harris until he sold the business to Gary Ratcliffe for $5,000, around this period you could purchase a house on the Sunshine Coast for around $8,000.  This was the first shop on the Sunshine Coast to sell doughnuts. In 1965 a doughnut sold for 5cents, a hamburger was 20 cents, steak burger 25 cents, meat pie 13 cents, milk shakes 13 cents a coke (bottle) 7 cents, paddle pops 5 cents.  This takeaway food outlet also had a kiosk opening to the ROLLERDROME with exclusive selling of coke's and snacks to sometimes up to hundreds of skaters, especially in holiday periods.

In the 1960’s and 1970’s things changed a little, The Cool Corner Café was taken over by Doug and Doris MacLeod in 1962 and they extensively renovated the building and designed it based on an American style Diner and opened under the new banner of Cotton Tree Inn, this was a very large premises that housed a fish and chip shop, in holiday periods they used to sell 8 large bags of potatoes as cooked chips and for those days that was a lot of potato chips the potatoes were peeled and chipped on the premises, most shops wouldn’t sell that amount of cooked chips these days, they also sold fresh sea foods, had an eat in snack bar, eat inn café and separate restaurant the “Nautilus Room” The customers were able to treat themselves to hamburgers which were relatively new to Australia at this time(another American icon). Coca Cola came in bottles not cans and a small coke cola cost 7 pence (6 cents) and a medium coke was 10 pence (9 cents) and who could forget our great tasting local soft drinks “Wimmers” bottled in Nambour since 1910. Doug and Doris also started the first smorgasbord (buffet) in the coastal area in the Nautilus Room and this proved to be popular also, many people having their Xmas Day lunch prepared for them which was very new to the area in those early days. If you wanted to have a burger or a meal you could sit at the snack bar area which was fitted out with swivel chairs which was a new experience for the coast patrons also and while dining you could listen to the music of the Beach Boys or the Beatles playing on the juke box.

Cotton Tree Sega GUNFIGHT was a two player gun fighting machine (player against player) installed in the PLEASURE CENTRE Cotton Tree in 1972. This arcade game was manufactured in Japan.

During the day if the kids pocket money was running short, the kids used to climb the cotton trees opposite the Cotton Tree Inn and spend many hours there making their own fun.

Cotton Tree Some of the larger Arcade Games at THE PLEASURE CENTRE COTTON TREE some of these games were about one third of the price of a block of land on the Sunshine Coast at the time of purchase

In the early sixties Jazzland was destroyed by fire and the land was purchased by Chas and Hazel Lee who opened the Rollerdrome in 1965, this proved to be a popular venue and drew crowds from all of the coastal strip and hinterland areas and was a great asset to the area to entertain people of all ages, It was about 40cents admission plus 20cents skate hire to spend a two hour session on the skating rink floor. In those days the kids could leave their bikes outside the Skating Rink and go skating for 2 hours and when they came out of the skating session, the bike would still be there, I wonder if that could happen now? A Slot Car track was also in the same complex and was owned by Pat and Ron Fuller. Bob Harris operated the Takeaway in the Rollerdrome building and the takeaway was later sold to Gary Ratcliffe. These were the days when Gary used to sell hamburgers for 20 cents a milkshake cost 13 cents and was served in an aluminium canister not a cardboard container hot cinnamon doughnuts were 5 cents, which were the first doughnuts sold on the coast. A meat pie was 13 cents. Pauls Have a Heart (ice cream) was 10cents and an Ice Cream Soda was 12 cents.

Cotton Tree The first registered name prior to being named THE PLEASURE CENTRE was PENNY ARCADE AMUSEMENTS, the name was first registered in 1969 and renamed the PLEASURE CENTRE in 1972

Prior to the Rollerdrome opening there used to be an open air Skating Rink in Ocean Street, Maroochydore where the Maroochy Shire Council office now stands, this had a Penny Arcade with all penny coin in the slot machines in an arcade leading to the open air Skating Rink at the rear of the building. This was run by Vern Gilbert and family and the entrance admission price was 15 cents, including hire of skates. Some people may remember that the open air skating rink was later converted to Gilberts Nursery, selling plants and garden accessories.

Cotton tree Apollo Pin Ball machine at THE PLEASURE CENTRE  in 1970

In the 1960’s after the introduction of Television, most people stayed home to watch Tv and there was a rapid decline in people going to the Picture Theatre for entertainment and after Jazzland in Cotton Tree Parade was destroyed by fire Jimmy Comino decided to level the sloping floor of the Beach Theatre and the canvas seats were removed and the dancing continued there but was later reverted back to use as a Picture Theatre.

Cotton Tree JUKE BOX. This is the original Jukebox which operated in the ROLLERDROME COTTON TREE Snack Bar and was later located at the PLEASURE CENTRE around the corner in King Street.  The Jukebox was played almost non stop from opening until the centre closed. Three new records (45's) were changed each week to keep the selection of music up to date.  In those days nearly all of the music was worth listening to, when a record played for an average two & a half minutes, the lyrics of the song would make a lasting memory for the listener, that's why people relate songs to previous friends and places and events that happened in their lives   . What a dull place the world would be without music.

The Beach Theatre was built in the 1930’s by well known local identity “Nugget” Evans for around 2000 pounds and was sold to the Comino family about 1947.

Cotton Tree PLEASURE CENTRE (inside) AMUSEMENT CENTRE KING St Cotton Tree, was one of the largest amusement centres at that time, housing 15 pool tables, around 80 amusement games, jukebox and slot car track photo taken 1970's.

In the daytime people used to go to the swimming area and hire canoe’s and paddle boats from Bob Attenborough who managed the Cotton Tree Council Caravan Park. In the afternoons they may have gone to the Beach Theatre and watched a matinee movie for around 30 cents admission or played mini golf at the Mini Golf in King Street operated by Doug and Doris MacLeod for about 15 cents a game or played Mini Golf at the Annex Mini Golf around the corner where Chateau Royale now stands. After playing mini golf at the Annex you could go into the Annex Snack Bar and enjoy a scrumptious burger cooked by Pat and Tom Graham.

Cotton Tree Patrons playing SNOOKER at THE PLEASURE CENTRE in 1972

In the early days there were only three taxi’s in Maroochydore and their base was in King Street next to the Pleasure Centre, this was owned and operated by John McNabb, this shop also housed a book exchange and a lot of the people holidaying at the Cotton Tree caravan park used to get their books and comic’s there.

Cotton Tree COTTON TREE ROLLERDROME opened for business in 1965. The Skating Rink was built by local builder Bob Beckley for Chas and Hazel Lee.

In 1970 we got our first high rise building Maroochy Sands and every one thought this was a huge building, but as development has shown it wasn’t so big after all. Maroochy Sands was built on land previously owned by the Comino family, it was run as a caravan park called The Lazy J.

Cotton Tree SPACE INVADERS was installed in THE PLEASURE CENTRE in 1978 and was probably one of the most popular games at that stage, it was reasonably simple for people of all ages to play.     The amusement machine manufacturers then just kept inventing more and more of this format of video games, which created a BOOM in the amusement machine industry.

In 1970 and Drive Inn Theatres were now starting to increase in popularity The Beach Theatre owned by the Comino family was now going to close. Jimmy Comino approached Gary Ratcliffe as Gary had just sold his snack bar at the Rollerdrome to see if he was interested in opening an amusement arcade there. No time was lost and council approval was given and the amusement arcade opened. Many patrons couldn’t wait for the arcade to open and for several weeks the locals were waiting out the front wanting to know when it would open the first patrons thru the front door on opening day were Wayne Renouf and David Byron. This proved to be a most popular entertainment arcade for both the locals and tourists alike. This was one of Australia’s largest amusement arcades (in floor area) pre Grundy’s opening in Surfers Paradise in the late 1970’s.The Pleasure Centre Cotton Tree was around 550sq.m. and housed 15 coin operated pool tables a slot car track and around 80 amusement games including pinballs, shooting galleries, coin operated bowling games, driving games and many other of the latest American and Japanese games that were available at the time. A game of pool cost 20cents and the pinballs and arcade games cost 5 cents to 10 cents to play and to hear the latest music on the jukebox was 10 cents and how the music had changed, Elvis and the Beatles revolutionised the type of music we wanted to listen to and more and more exciting and interesting music artists were arriving on the scene and this music has entertained us for four decades since.

Towards the end of the sixties the clothing fashions were changing from flared Amco and Leisuremaster jeans to the more tighter fitting jeans and wearing paisley patterned shirts and t-shirts. Long hair was also very fashionable at the time.

Cotton Tree PONG was the first amusement game played on a TV screen (video game) and was introduced to the market in 1972 and it revolutionised the way we played amusement games ever since and was available to be played at THE PLEASURE CENTRE in 1972. This was the end of electro mechanical games that we were all used to playing.

The Pleasure Centre amusement arcade was especially popular with the holiday makers that used to come and stay at the caravan park and from all the holiday flats in the area and they used to come back every year. As soon as the caravan or tent was set up in the caravan park the kids were off to the Pleasure Centre to see what new games were there from when they were there last holiday season.

Cotton Tree Technician repairing Pin Ball Machines at the PLEASURE CENTRE 1970. These electro-mechanical pinball machines had thousands of moving parts, which had to be finely tuned for the machine to function correctly. It was a specialized field for technicians, similar circuitry to the old PMG type wiring. Neither TV technicians or ordinary electricians couldn't figure out the machines functioned. Qualified technicians in this field of electronics were few and far between.

In the 1960’s 1970’s and 1980’s there wasn’t a lot of entertainment venue’s on the coast so at night time during holiday periods it was not uncommon to have 300 people in the Pleasure Centre at any one time and customers had to wait up to two hours to get a game of pool.

Cotton Tree FRONT FACADE OF THE PLEASURE CENTRE COTTON TREE

The Rollerdrome and Pleasure Centre were especially popular on rainy days during the holidays as it was too wet to go to the beach and they didn’t want to stay in the tent or caravan all day.

Cotton Tree PLEASURE CENTRE MACHINE OPERATOR ID CARDS

Both the Pleasure Centre and the Rollerdrome used to run at capacity crowds during holiday periods, drawing patrons from all areas of the coastal strip. Many lasting friendships were made at both of these venues, some married and their kids also went to these two popular venues for their entertainment.

Cotton Tree One of the first sit down driving games to be installed at the PLEASURE CENTRE in 1973 proved to be very popular.
Any amusement game that had a steering wheel or a rifle attached to the game was immensely popular with players.

Also at night very large crowds were attracted to the Carnival at Cotton Tree (where the Council Library now stands) this was a very popular venue. Every holiday John Giesman and his family would come and set up all their amusement rides and Fairy Floss and Dagwood Dog stands together with the different charities manned by dedicated volunteers that would have their lucky numbers stands and chook wheels there to raise revenue for their important work they did in the community.

Cotton tree Patron playing "SPOOKS"  Rifle Game at the PLEASURE CENTRE in Xmas 1970

On Cotton Tree Parade there was the Bandstand where bands used to play and other community functions were held to entertain the locals and tourists; this was replaced by The Cotton Tree Pool complex.

Cotton Tree Selection of Rifle Galleries in the PLEASURE CENTRE COTTON TREE year 1972 These machines were all electro-mechanical with lots of moving parts, solenoids and contacts, usually illuminated with a black light fluorescent tube to give the special effects. These rifle machines had great player appeal.

Every New Year’s Eve huge crowds used to gather at Cotton Tree to see the old year out and the new year in, people were everywhere, after the Wharf complex at Mooloolaba opened this began to change and the New Year’s Eve crowds started to gather at Mooloolabah and Cotton Tree lost a bit more of it’s history.

Cotton Tree 1960's Pin Ball machines with short flippers were still very popular in the 1970's and played regularly by the avid pin ball players at the PLEASURE CENTRE. These 1960's model pinballs were purchased form an amusement arcade that closed down at Burleigh Heads on the Gold Coast and were relocated to THE PLEASURE CENTRE as a novelty to blend in with the newer model pinball games. These older machines were 10 cents per play.     These older pinballs had only one level playfield and were simple for players to figure out the theme of the game, the new pinball machines, you almost have to be a technician to figure out what is going on during the game, it's all moving so fast and on multi level playfields.

In the early 1970,s things slowly started to change, the Mini Golf in King Street was closed to make way for development of new modern shops on the site.

The Annex Mini Golf and Snack Bar also gave way to development of the Chateau Royal complex.

Cotton tree A couple of serious players playing soccer at the PLEASURE CENTRE in 1970

The night time Carnival at Cotton Tree came to an end for the development of the Library and the holidays at Cotton Tree now started to loose some of it's favourite attractions.

Cotton Tree COTTON TREE MINI GOLF located in King Street Cotton Tree owned and operated by Doug & Doris MacLeod. A game of mini golf cost 15cents per player, with no time limit to play the course.   Located opposite to the entrance of THE PLEASURE CENTRE.

In 1977 the popular Cotton Tree Inn was destroyed by fire and Doug MacLeod decided to replace the iconic Café with a modern block of shops.

Cotton Tree Patron playing "Gotlieb" KINGS and QUEENS Pin Ball Machine at the PLEASURE CENTRE in 1970.   For many decades the pinball machine was the most popular game for patrons to play and was the backbone on the amusement machine industry.

On the 12th. October 1986 (28 years ago) the Pleasure Centre Amusement Arcade was destroyed by fire. This devastated many of the former patrons as they grew up with this entertainment as part of their lives and for those who married and had offspring that were going there for the same fun that their parents had, it was now all over and only fond memories remain. The size of the land and the car parking requirements at the time made it unviable for the building to be replaced on that block of land without adjoining land being amalgamated to the site.

Maroochydore 1970 Klondike Pinball machine at the PLEASURE CENTRE 1971. At this period of time a pinball could be purchased brand new for under $1,000, two player pin balls were $1195, which was quite expensive at the time.  A new pinball now costs around $10,000 for the top games.

The Rollerdrome has since been demolished and the site from the Pleasure Centre along King Street and around the corner to where the Rollerdrome stood now houses the new complex the Rovera.

Cotton Tree PLEASURE CENTRE (VIEW OF POOL TABLES) AMUSEMENT CENTRE KING St Cotton Tree, One of the largest amusement centres (in floor area Aprox 550sq.m) at that time, housing 15 pool tables, around 80 amusement games, jukebox and slot car track photo taken 1970's.

As progress happens most of the Amusement Games manufacturers have now disappeared and very little new commercial amusement games are now produced.

Cotton Tree SOME OF THE JUKEBOXES owned and operated from the Cotton Tree PLEASURE CENTRE during the 1960's -1970's period. Unfortunately during the 1970's many of these model Jukeboxes ended up at the Buderim rubbish dump and now people are playing Lawn Bowls on the land that they were buried under (what a tragic waste).  Nobody ever dreamed that in the late 1980's they would become very collectable, fetching up to $10,000.00 to collectors.

It is unfortunate all of this has now gone and is now part of history as there aren’t many venues left where families can be entertained for very little cost. These venues provided a safe place for people to go and enjoy themselves. Now with the change of technology people now play video games on their computers and most Skating Rinks have gone by the way as it has all been replaced with inline skates and skateboards and now the skating is done on open air skate bowls or on the footpath.

Cotton Tree Gary tests out installation of new Atari Trak 10   driving game, which was probably the best video game manufactured prior to Space Invaders being released. Very primitive, basically many dots on the screen to make up the car and the racing track. Not a patch on the graphics of the video games on offer these days, technology has come a long way since then. This machine brand new was purchased for $2,450.00. (expensive at the time)

The youth of these days have very little adult supervised venue’s to meet and socialise. In the 1960’s, 1970’s & 80’s graffiti was unheard of as the youth had things they could do without being bored it’s a shame this is all long gone.

Cotton Tree ROAD RUNNER was an upright car driving game, the player drove a hologram image in amongst other cars aiming to win the race without crashing the players car too many times, introduced to the PLEASURE CENTRE in 1972

Good times were had with very little financial outlay, people made their own fun and commercial entertainment was within everyone’s reach, life was simple and easy back then, not much pressure and plenty of time to enjoy life. Life is moving at a very fast pace now days and there doesn’t seem to be much time to enjoy life as we did back then.

Cotton Tree JUKEBOX remodelled by the operators of the PLEASURE CENTRE. The mechanism used in these Jukeboxes were made by Wurlitzer 1960 and rehoused in a modern cabinets to suit the 1970's. As it turns out now they would be much more valuable if they had have been left in the original Wurlitzer format. (we all make mistakes), but it was a good idea at the time

OH! WHAT FOND MEMORIES OF OLD COTTON TREE

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