Doing Business in Wonthella

O’Malley’s Cash Store
O'Malleys Cash Store (2) - Copy

The Corner store was a part of everyone’s life before supermarkets took centre stage.  If you lived in Wonthella then you shopped at O’Malley’s Cash Store in Fifth Street.  It was also a post office and was located where the courtyard at Dewsons now stands. The house backed onto a house the O’Malley family lived in.  


We opened the shop in 1947 and sold it in 1961 owing to Arnold’s ill health.  The late Mr Jack Marsden financed us.  Arnold did a mail delivery around Bluff Point and Wonthella for the first few years until the shop got too busy. Arnold lived in Wonthella all his life with the exception of a few years in the army and we moved to Perth in 1961.  Our daughter Loretta worked for us until she married and went to live in Bunbury.  Our son Ross did not like shop work.  Arnold worked first at Frank Green’s then at McLeans Cash Store before opening the Wonthella store.   Gwen O’Malley  O'Malleys cash store - Copy
Arnold & Gwen O'Malley & kids

Arnold, Loretta, Ross and Gwen O’Malley

Wonthella was then a mainly agricultural area and featured many tomato gardens.  Peas and other crops were also grown but tomatoes at the time were in demand and fetched an excellent price interstate and were also exported to south-east Asia.

There were few houses, about 20 in all and most of the people who lived in the suburb, then part of the Greenough Road Board either owned a tomato garden or were employed to work in someone else’s.

Information from an Our Heritage Article written by Gary Warner. Geraldton Guardian, 13 June 2003. 

Mr O'Malley Snr

Mr O’Malley Senior

Oasis Drive-In Theatre
After selling the Triple G Store in 1956, brothers John & Noel Glass boldly built WA’s third ‘car theatre’ and the first outside Perth.  On the site now occupied by Bunnings and WA Salvage, the Oasis Drive-In Theatre opened with an ‘invitation only’ screening on Monday, May 13, 1957. Oasis Drive In -Wonthella via Lost Geraldton

Photo courtesy of Lost Geraldton

Elephant Statue at Oasis Drive In - Wonthella Shared by Fleur N Nigel Hunt, photo taken by H Murray via Lost Geraldton

Elephant Statue at Oasis Drive In – Wonthella Shared by Fleur N Nigel Hunt, photo taken by H Murray via Lost Geraldton

An itinerant sculptor had made a fountain in the form of a concrete elephant, it  became an icon for a generation, and the queues of cars each night got longer.

Elephant Statue at Oasis Drive In - Wonthella Shared by Nicole Matheson via Lost Geraldton

Such was the novelty of ‘a night at the drives’, for families with picnic dinners or young lovers alone in the flickering darkness of their cards.  Con Ariti, and early employee, recalls that for the ‘First Birthday’ screening in 1958, the queue stretched to Phelp Street and over to Chapman Road.  Oasis soon had a staff of 14, including ‘runners’ who ran to each car, counted the occupants and sold the tickets.  Teenagers tried sneaking in hidden in the boot of a car, often emerging to be caught in the torch beam of a suspicious runner. Oasis Drive In via Lost Geraldton shared by Nicole Matheson..3

“I worked at the Oasis Drive-in as groundsman cleaner from Feb 1964 till it closed.worked at the Ozone for the last few years until it closed. .great years.”   Con Ariti… via Lost Geraldton post.

 Oasis Drive In Car Park in 1957

Starting with 220 car spaces, it expanded to 440 then in 1964 it reached 615 spaces, which were filled only once for the movie Shenandoah.  For the 1971 movie Carnal Knowledge, the first R-rated movie shown at the Oasis, there seemed to be just as many cars outside as inside!

However, TV and video tapes took their toll and the Oasis Drive-In showed its last movie, Beverley Hills Cop, on wednesday, May 15, 1985.

Information from an Our Heritage Article written by Gary Warner. Geraldton Guardian, 17 February 2006. 

Oasis Drive In Opening Invitation - 13 May 1957