Ulladulla’s famous Funland, and Rowen’s Arcade
In the late 1940s and early 1950s, with my wife Doreen, we would spend many weekends in the Milton-Ulladulla area, spear fishing and water skiing. When King’s Point was subdivided, we had the first house built there by Millard and Ingold builders, as a weekender.
Then, liking the area so much, we decided to buy a house in town and eventually move down, so we purchased the house owned by Mrs. Clancy, wife of Mr. Clancy, publican of the Marlin Hotel, who was now deceased. We decided on that house as it had a large front yard, that could be developed.
When I told my skiing mates that we had purchased the house, they said we should have bought in a back street as the main road (Princes Highway) would be too noisy. When I said I would build shops there, they thought I was crazy and so did many locals. We eventually built 5 shops, named The Arcade, with Millard and Ingold builders, opening for Christmas 1965.
The original businesses were Ryan & Banner Butchery, Eileen Cambage Bakery, Bob Horne Electrical, Dulcie Weeks Delicatessen and Betty Mison Hairdresser.
Then I wondered how to utilise the roof area. While holidaying in Queensland I saw children riding on mini cars and that gave me an idea for a fun parlour. The original Funland building was built on top of the five shops by G Kearns & Son in 1970 and fitted out by me.
After building four trampolines, purchasing some mini cars from Italy, five 5c pin ball machines and a pool table we commenced trading in December 1970. With Glenn (my son), Jennifer (my daughter), and my wife Doreen, we opened only on weekends and school holidays. We also operated pedal boats in the harbour during Christmas holiday periods.
In 1976, after Glenn finished his HSC, he joined me in the business. The original house was removed and The Arcade was extended by the addition of eight more shops, designed by the two of us in conjunction Alan Foreman, a draftsman with builders G Kearns & Son. The Arcade then covered half of the block from the Princes Highway towards Boree Street.
Three more shops were added in 1980 and The Arcade was renamed Rowen’s Arcade.
Major extensions to Funland were carried out in 1983, taking Funland to its present size and providing a range of attractions unequalled on the South Coast, including full size adult rides like the Sizzler and dodgems, plus hundreds of games and other novelty attractions.
Planning of the twin cinema and extra shops fronting Boree Street began in 1990. The cinema was designed to the requirements of John and Sue Kasoulis, who at that time operated the Milton Cinema.
Building of the complex, by Steve Watt Constructions began in May 1992, and was completed mostly by local tradesmen. A major internal refurbishment then followed with the arcade being completely retiled and repainted internally.
In 1996 the northern exit was replaced with a ramp and in 1998 the vacant adjoining land between Rowen’s Arcade and the Boree St car park was purchased for use as parking with future development in mind.
In 2006 external changes were made to the finish of the large northern wall to blend it with the newer Cinema wall and in 2011 some more internal and external refurbishment was done.
The lift was added in 2015 and, in April 2016, Rowen’s Arcade was sold to new owners – after 50 years of trading under the Rowen family’s ownership.