Wendy Donald (nee Kinnersly) lived at Haven in the 1950s and remembers going to the Caltex with her brother for an ice cream, but her fondest memories of the Caltex were in the 1960s; going there after the pictures or dances for a coffee and to play the jukebox. The songs of the times -‘River Deep, Mountain High’, ‘Oh La La’ and ‘A Single Girl’, were some of her favourites.
When the Caltex Roadhouse opened in June 1957 it consisted of two buildings, the southern one being the ‘Caltex Star Cafe’ with the workshop to the north. At a later date, the cafe became a residence for the roadhouse managers and then a building where truck drivers could sleep.
June 28, 1957: the ‘Grand Opening’, open 24 hours, was advertised in the Horsham Times. Charlie Cobb, who was previously employed as a salesman at Young’s Garage, was the proprietor.
On October 23, there was an advertisement for the cafe and in July, the ‘Star Cafe’ was advertised under Cliff Wik’s management.
From 1960 onward, Gus Le Poidiven had the roadhouse around about 1960-1962. Eric Rogers was employed there at one time.
Ron and Joyce Mills managed the roadhouse and lived in the former cafe building for about 12 years, c1970s. Ron was a well-known local partner of ‘Mills and Lawson Truck Company’. It was during the Mills’ period of management that the Caltex became a more popular stopping place for ‘truckies’.
James and Lois Kellett later managed the restaurant section.
Tess Yeo recalls working at Caltex between 1974-75 and 1993-94. She began work when Ron and Joyce Mills had the roadhouse. Some of the people she worked with were Rosemary Lane, Betty Campesato, Phyllis Walker, Val Bouts and Hazel McDonald.
Following the Mills family were Peter Irwin, Marg Mitchell, who may have been the manager for Irwin’s, Lois and Jim Kellett in the restaurant and Wayne Decker.
The roadhouse was managed by other people over its 60-year period.
By 2017, even though the building was somewhat the worse for wear, it was still sad to see the roadhouse closed on February 13, 2017 for rebuilding. However, when the new building opened in June, Wendy was thrilled to see the early picture of the building on the wall of the modern dining section, which now even has USB charging points for mobile phones next to the tables.
Other popular roadhouses in Horsham were the Shell in Baillie Street and the Mobil opposite the Caltex in Stawell Road. The Mobil was known as the 186, which was the distance from Melbourne in miles.
The Horsham Historical Society would welcome any further information on the history of the roadhouses or other Horsham businesses. Anyone is welcome to attend the society’s rooms at 33 Pynsent Street, Tuesday or Wednesday between 1.30 and 4.30pm. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.