Photos | Street parade and marching band for opening of first Woolworths supermarket in shire

The opening of the first Woolworths supermarket in Sutherland Shire in December, 1958 was a huge event.

Princes Highway was closed to traffic and a large crowd gathered to watch a street parade with a marching band and the official opening by BP Pick-A-Box quiz master Bob Dyer.

Woolworths had only started selling food a year earlier.

The new Sutherland supermarket - although it wasn't given that name at the time - was an expansion of the Woolworths Variety Store, which opened on the corner of Princes Highway and Flora Street in 1956.

The combined operations, called Woolworths Super Store, were in two buildings, separated by a laneway.

Sutherland was Woolworths' first location in the shire, but others followed quickly.

Variety stores opened amid great excitement in Caringbah in 1957 and Cronulla in 1959.

Sylvania Woolworths, a combined Variety Store and Food Fair under one roof, opened in 1961 in the smaller shopping centre that preceded Southgate at the corner of Princes Highway and Port Hacking Road.

Woolworths was next to the hotel, where McDonald's is located today.

Woolworths Engadine supermarket opened in 1966.

In total, Woolworths has had 55 sites in the shire across all its brands, including Big W, Flemings and Dick Smith.

In the 1960s, the company operated five Chic Salon stores, selling lingerie, in the shire after acquiring that business in 1962.

The business was sold to Sussan in 1969.

The Flemings store at Jannali is the last in Australia. It was one of the original stores in the chain acquired by Woolworths in 1960.

Photos of the early shire stores are among a collection of more than 75,000 images that are preserved in the Woolworths Heritage Centre in north-western Sydney.

Stephen Ward, the manager of the centre and a shire resident, has worked for Woolworths for more than 45 years.

Mr Ward started his career at the Variety Store in Caringbah in 1973.

Now semi-retired, he says managing the archives and historical collection of Woolworths and its associated companies since 1924 is "a labour of love".

Mr Ward presented a history of the company's operations in the shire to the annual general meeting of the Sutherland Shire Historical Society.

  • The Woolworths Heritage Centre is open every Wednesday at the Woolworths Support Office in Bella Vista. Members of the public need to book in advance.
  • Sutherland Shire Historical Society meetings are held on the third Saturday of every month (except December) at the Stapleton Centre, 3A Stapleton Street, Sutherland at 1.30pm.


Every Friday we delve into the Leader archives to embark on some time travel.

We will bring you photographs of a news event from 59 years of Leader news coverage that you may or may not recall.

Flashback Friday submissions are also welcomed.

Feel free to share your recollections with us on our Facebook page @SutherlandShireStGeorgeNews or email