Memories of May: Macarthur Square

At the height of the pandemic, we went to Castle Towers, an upscale mall in Sydney’s northwest. We decided to browse at Hype DC, where I once again saw this Onitsuka Tiger pair. Apparently, they had run out of my size. Macarthur Square, in Sydney’s greater west, was their only remaining outlet in the state that stocked the pine/grey Mexico 66. After lunch, we commuted more than an hour to get to Macarthur. It was like end to end on Sydney’s transport network. Looking back, we should’ve just eaten on the train. Due to Coronavirus, malls were trading less hours than normal. A quick note: Aussies pronounce Macarthur as ‘Mack-ah-ta’. If you enunciate it as ‘Mack-are-tour’ no one here would understand you.

Macarthur

Macarthur Square is a large shopping mall south of Campbelltown. The centre opened in 1979 and Lend Lease Corporation manages it. There are 285 stores with 6 anchor tenants. These include a three-storey David Jones, Target, Big W, Coles, Woolworths, and Event Cinemas. In 2005, the mall underwent a major expansion which saw the floor area increased from 29,000 square metres to 90,000 m². The annex included an outdoor dining precinct dubbed ‘Kellicar Lane’. Above the latter is the food court that has substantial glass windows looking over the lane, Campbelltown, and the surrounds. Another redevelopment occurred in 2016/17, with the addition of H&M, a new and improved Coles and DJ, as well as 45 specialty stores.

In addition, an ALDI, ‘a fresh food hall’ and dining terrace were sprinkled in for good measure. These additions were done to concretise the attraction’s title as the foremost shopping centre in the Macarthur area. The centre is truly a one-stop shop for all your shopping, lifestyle, entertainment, banking, and gastronomic needs. I recall while doing a course overseas, we tackled World War 2 in History 100. My professor (since deceased) wrote Arthur, then Mac, before using an arrow back to Arthur. Of course, he meant Arthur MacArthur, but he was saving space (though there was a surfeit of it). Some students found it funny. Though situated over fifty kilometres from the city centre, Macarthur is one of Sydney metro’s fastest-evolving regions. Currently, the area has a population of about 310,00 humans. Interestingly, Macarthur is not named after Douglas Macarthur, the former U.S. Commander. Rather, the region gets its name from Elizabeth and John Macarthur, pioneers of Australian wool.

The shoe

From Castle Hill, we took the Northwest Metro (light rail) to Chatswood, taking a train to Central. From there, a direct service took you to Macarthur. The final journey should’ve just taken forty-five minutes, but we alighted at Campbelltown. From there we took another bus. When I asked the driver if he could take us to ‘Mack-are-tour’, he didn’t get it. I had to do the right pronunciation (‘Mack-ah-tah’) so he could finally understand. I would later learn that the mall was right next to Macarthur station. I should’ve checked Wikipedia. By the time we got there, we had about fifteen minutes before the store closed. I tried the pair and it was a good fit. It seemed a lighter shade than I thought and also had a heel flap that seemed superfluous. However, at 37 percent off, you can’t discount the savings. The Tiger seems like a relic. The trainers show little aesthetic difference since being release in 1966. The design is practically the same, with the stripes and the lack of a cushion. Regardless, buying the shoe seemed like a no-brainer.

Around the mall

After purchasing them, we had a quick look at the nearby Converse. In spite of the pandemic, their promotion was uncool, so we looked elsewhere for bargains. While walking around, we were surprised to find the large David Jones store. When my fellow traveller pointed it out, I thought, what was DJ doing here? Kathmandu was one of the first stores we saw. However, we were in a hurry. Furthermore, we knew that they were overpriced. Among its bevy of men’s fashion, the centre touts H & M., General Pants, a Cotton on Mega space, and a barren Industrie spot. The latter, with all their stores, concessions, and unreasonable pricing, seems destined to be the next line to vanish. My chaperone observed that the mall was well laid-out. Compared to other malls around Sydney, this one was better planned. She singled out the mall’s distance from downtown Sydney as the reason behind this. The extensive use of glass, the large corridors, and the orderly floor plans all gave the building a favourable impression.

Target

We then headed to Target. I made a beeline for their book section, where I found the biography of ex-Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. I knew that they were selling it for $29, but most of the department stores around Sydney were out of stock. A week or so earlier, I enquired at the Dymock’s shop in Burwood. Dymock’s is Australia’s largest bricks and mortar book retailer. Since the departure of Borders a decade ago, Dymock’s has a tight grip atop the industry. Well, they were selling it for $42. No wonder no one was fooled. I also had a look at their menswear, where I saw this striped long sleeve tee. Though I liked the style, it was still full price at $25. Two months later, I would nab it at the clearance price of $10 at Eastgardens. Afterward, we debated on whether to go to Big W, which was still open. We decided to skip it for now.

Supper

Supper was disappointing as most outlets were closed due to Coronavirus. Only the Indian and the fish and chips shop were open. The Japanese store had closed for the day. KFC was closed temporarily during the pandemic. The wrap shop, the chicken stand…all closed. The food court looked more like the zombie apocalypse, with only a few other people in sight. When we visited Castle Hill, the same was true. Only the Indian and the seafood stand were open. In fairness though, the latter mall had two food courts: one on ground level and another on the upper level. The lower food court had a lot more activity. The views mentioned weren’t so grand as it was already night-time when we had dinner.

Redo

There are a couple of things I wished we did. Firstly, we should’ve gotten our lunch on the go and saved ourselves precious time. Instead of having fifteen minutes to browse the smaller stores (which closed sooner), we would’ve had at least an hour. Secondly, I needed to do more research on the transport. However, the trip was a productive one. We got my shoes and we grabbed the Turnbull book. As mentioned in prior posts, Target wouldn’t be around much longer. The similarities with sister store Kmart have been their undoing. They’re converting existing stores to Kmart’s while also closing the rest. Meanwhile, we were both glad that we tried somewhere new. On the trip home, as mentioned earlier, I discovered that Macarthur train station was right next to the Square.  

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