Kings Cross Waxworks

Waxworks AdPast the al fresco diners drinking cappucinos under striped umbrellas, up the stairs and above the courtyard with the waterfall fountain, there was the Kings Cross Waxworks. It was on the top level of the Village Centre, the shopping court that was one of the less risque new attractions of 1960s Kings Cross. Amid the neon signs and nightclubs the Village Centre was a safe realm of coffee lounges, restaurants and souvenir shops. It had a neo-Victorian atmosphere, with lights shaped like gas lamps and white, wrought iron chairs at the cafes. In the 1960s Kings Cross was the most cosmopolitan of Sydney locations, and the Village Centre was a good place to people-watch, sitting on the benches under the plane trees in the courtyard.

Village Centre Kings Cross 2

Village Centre Kings Cross

The Beatles had toured Sydney in 1964, but for those who had missed them or wanted to re-live the thrill, they could visit the Waxworks. Here their wax likenesses, lifted from the Sgt. Peppers album cover in their shiny suits, stood in front of glittering curtains. The figures had come from the famous Tussaud company, along with a disparate collection of historical figures, royals, heads of state, femmes fatales, authors and fictional characters. Where else but the Kings Cross Waxworks could Beethoven, Robert Louise Stevenson, Katherine Mansfield and Brigitte Bardot be found in close company? The souvenir booklet acknowledged the uniqueness of the experience: “We hope the moments you spend with the supreme and honoured people who await you in our Kings Cross Wax Works will always linger in your memory”.

Wax Works Ad 70s Memories of the waxworks have lingered, moments and scraps from its twenty year history. The waxworks opened in 1968 and was, at the time, one of the go-to school holiday activities in the city. By the 1980s it was in decline and described as deserted, dusty and in bad repair, the exhibits confined behind metal cages. Open daily from 10am to midnight, the waxworks was there for everyone from school excursions to drunken night visits to the Mad Hatters Tea Party diorama.

Kings Cross Mad Hatters

Those with hands small enough could reach in and reposition the displays, making their own modifications to the exhibits. By this time the original collection of world leaders and film stars had been joined by some more sensational displays: a shark attack scene which showed an undersea view with a set of legs, one bloodied and footless. The “optional” horror section included a ‘body snatchers’ exhumation scene, a hideous torture scene with a wax victim hanging from a butcher’s hook and a Dracula with a bloodied chin. Other unintentionally horrific scenes included the rising and falling chest of Sleeping Beauty and a twenty-something Prince Charles in cravat and sports suit.

Dracula Waxworks

The Waxworks closed in 1987 and over the next 20 years the Village Centre became increasingly dilapidated, until it was demolished in 2008. The fate of the wax models is unknown. I like to think Dracula went on to a life somewhere, as did Salome and Prince Charles, Donald Bradman and Brigit Bardot, wherever wax figures go to retire.

Brigit Bardot Waxworks

15 Comments on “Kings Cross Waxworks”

  1. artjdrush says:

    Amazing. Never heard of this before. Have been spending a lot of time in Cafe Hernandez with Louis Nowra’s excellent Kings Cross book lately

  2. Sean Rafferty says:

    Great post. I’d love to know where they all went too! Did you happen to find any particularly good sources of information about it? Would be great to do an exhibition about it at Breezeblock, which is now in the new village center.

    • Vanessa Berry says:

      Hey Sean, I was thinking of contacting you about doing something at Breezeblock about the Waxworks, there’s so much potential! There’s plenty of anecdotal info around the place on Sydney facebook groups and a few blogs, it really stuck in people’s memories. Aside from that there’s no core source for waxworks history, but plenty of leads you could follow up.

  3. nickgadd says:

    Great stuff. It’s fascinating to speculate where the models ended up. Poor old Brigitte is probably forgotten in the back of a junk shop somewhere!

  4. Bill says:

    I went this in the 80s before it closed down.

  5. It lingered in my memory all right … I went there for my 11th birthday outing (1970) and remember all the items mentioned here, but especially the hook. There was one window that was in the dark. When you pushed a button on the right, this hideous scene of torture lit up for the poor unsuspecting kid. I didn’t sleep that night, and that stupid image has come back to me many. many times over the years. I should sue!!

  6. What happened to the waterfall fountain that was in the plaza? Ihave got so many good childhood memories of the place! Last time I saw it was in the early 70s. Now I´m living abroad and hoping to come back and see all landmarks I love in Sydney.

    • Vanessa Berry says:

      Hi Yolanda, the fountain is no longer there, unfortunately, the whole area was redeveloped some years ago. Sorry to bring the bad news! The area has changed but there will still be some places you recognise 🙂

  7. Mary Belcher says:

    We have the Alice in Wonderland model here in New Zealand

  8. chipper72 says:

    Does anyone know the whereabouts of Heather Currey, who was the manager at the Waxworks. I’d appreciate a contact point. Thanks. Barry W

  9. gary rusbourne says:

    I worked at the kings cross waxworks 1983-1984 with some very interesting stories to share about the various scenes on display if this is of interest to anyone on this Blog. The owner (my boss) was heather currey & her son (?) also worked there

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