Toy Fisheries Homebush

By Cathy Jones

I received an email from John McClean about Toy Fisheries, a shop at Homebush.  I have a photo (see above) dated 1962 but don’t know much about Toy Fisheries.  So if anyone has some information, please add in comments:

John says:

I thought I would contact you about the now forgotten, but once immensely popular pet shop of the 60s/70s located at Homebush named Toy Fisheries.

It’s motto was “The Largest Pet Shop In the Southern Hemisphere” and was located at 127 Parramatta Rd, Homebush. The building still survives as part of the ‘Pauls Warehouse’ building.

It is difficult to describe how busy the premises would become on Saturdays and particularly Sundays with many people travelling from the Central Coast, South Coast and further for a day out. (This was prior to cinemas and other venues opening Sundays.)

The owner was Mr Col Lewis who began keeping and selling imported and self bred gold and tropical fish from his house from the 1920s in Ashfield and then Concord and Homebush.

There was a small factory located at 127 Parramatta Rd that Mr Lewis purchased in the 1950s, and then proceeded to build a new double story showroom in front of the original. The original factory was used partially as a pet sales area and also for the building of fish tanks, stands etc.

In the early 70s the building was again extended at the rear for the purpose of breeding fish, but times had changed and the large crowds began to wane with other entertainment now available. Toy Fisheries became ‘Pets Paradise’ and seemed to be linked to Grace Bros, with small stores opening in shopping centres.

I worked there for several years as a school boy and the memories above are as I recall them.

Mr Lewis’ son-in-law was the General Manager of the operation, and is Mr Alan Whelpton A.M.  Mr Whelpton is very prominent in the surf lifesaving field being the ex-president.



  1. Yes, I remember this shop, it sold turtles, baby crocodiles, baby chicks, artificial plants etc, great shop, always loved going there, there was also some fast food shop nearby where they had yummy thickshakes


  2. OMG. I’m having a little drink lol (I’m now 62!) and suddenly I remember Toy Fisheries! My older brother Ian bought a large fish tank there and he also bought many and varied tropical fish in the early 70s. There were 4 of us brothers and sisters and we would all tag along from Merrylands to this wonderful place back in the day..great memories


  3. I remember Toy Fisheries very well.
    It was a great shop to visit on a Sunday afternoon.
    It had all the hard to get goldfish plus the common ones ,crocodiles, axolotls, just to mention a few.
    I was into goldfish as a kid and would write letters asking all sorts of questions about goldfish.
    They always wrote back and were very helpful..
    I also remember a house a few doors up from the shop would always toffee apples for sale , does anyone else remember them?


  4. I knew Christopher Lee , whom worked dilligently for Toy fisheries ,
    Back in 1966/ 67. I lived and board with him , then.
    I heard t’was a big2 shop.
    George Salim


    1. I was a teenager in the early sixties, my uncle lived just up the street from Toy Fisheries, the story that I remembered was about them selling baby alligators or freshwater crocodiles in the belief that they grew to the size of their environment (small pond,small crock) of course this was nonsense soon and 3 and 4 foot crocks started to appear in local creeks and stormwater drains . Toy Fisheries used to do live radio broadcasts from the Homebush store sometimes causing traffic problems on Parramatta Road. Does anybody have any information on that?


  5. Loved Toy Fisheries as a kid. Dad would enjoy taking us there on the weekends. I recall they had a cockatoo that lived at the shop that was well-versed – and probably the first talking bird I had every come across.


  6. My mother purchased my tortoise from there back in the 60’s they used to have a big tortoise pond out the back…. and he is still going, bringing a lot of pleasure and understanding of reptiles to 4 generations of my family. The National Parks and Wildlife brought in that you have to have a licence, he was living with my mother up until she passed and when I inherited him I did the right thing and applied for a licence…. they wanted a receipt from here from 1962. After a lot of toing and frowing I eventually got my licence. Toby is living the high life, basking in the sun and swimming, thanks to Toy Fisheries.


    1. How lovely that Toby has been with your family for four generations. Unbelievable! A good story indeed.


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