Bombay Rock was a rock music venue located on Sydney Road, Brunswick, Victoria, which originally ran from 1977 until it was destroyed by a fire in 1991. The venue had previously been located in Bourke Street in the city under the name of the Bombay Bicycle Club

The story of the original Bombay Rock starts and ends with enterprising manager / promoter Joseph Gaultieri. He started out on the mid-’70s Melbourne music scene by managing Fat Daddy and then working for Premier Artists booking agency. For a time he ran a club on the Victorian surf coast at Lorne, which he called the Lorne Follies, booking the likes of Renee Geyer, Captain Matchbox, Split Enz, Ariel, Hush and the Ted Mulry Gang.

Bombay Rock was a viable alternative to the smaller, inner city venues such as the Tiger Lounge (Royal Oak Hotel, Richmond), Hearts (Polaris Inn, North Carlton), Martinis (Imperial Hotel, Carlton) and the ‘Snake Pit’ (Station Hotel, Prahran), or the sprawling suburban beer barns such as South Side Six (Moorabbin), Village Green (Mulgrave), Matthew Flinders (Chadstone), Croxton Park (Thornbury), Doncaster Inn (Doncaster), Pier Hotel (Frankston) etc. It was purposely designed and promoted as a dedicated rock ’n’ roll club.

He refurbished the club, on the corner of Sydney Road and Phoenix Street. Brunswick, and relaunched it as a rock gig on Friday 10th and Saturday 11th of March 1978Bands featured that weekend were Mother Goose, Mondo Rock, Last Chance Café, Stars, The Sports and One Nite Stand. 

Gaultieri branded his rock venue as a notable place to be seen with the taglines “Melbourne’s premier rock gig!!” and “Showcasing the cream of Australasian and special international attractions (combined with our normal disco set up) – While the rest of Melbourne sleeps”, as well as “The total 2-storey entertainment complex”, “Be Early” and “Australia’s Rock ’n’ Roll Headquarters”. 

It was all about the marketing and right off the bat the venue was hugely successful.

The double storey venue had a main room upstairs with a large dance floor, where the big name bands played, and a smaller room downstairs where you could catch the lesser known, younger bands. There was always a great atmosphere about the place; audiences just came along to enjoy the bands, to dance, to drink beer and hopefully to connect with other people bearing the same disposition.

Bombay Rock was renowned for both the range of important Australian bands that performed there, and the regular violent fights among its patrons, with hardly a night going by without a fight. Australian photographer Rennie Ellis captured a number of performers at the venue in the 1980s, including Jo Jo Zep & The Falcons. The venue was described in the 1980s as "…an old style rock barn … with all the style and grace of a converted factory" and was to the working class, what Billboard was to the middle class.

Gaultieri quickly cottoned on to the spirit of Melbourne’s emergent punk / new wave scene by staging the Suicide Records New Wave Extravaganza nights in March and April 1978, featuring Boys Next Door, Teenage Radio Stars, X-Ray-Z, JAB and Negatives. By 1979 the likes of the Crystal Ballroom in St. Kilda had started but Bombay Rock remained popular.

Gaultieri promoted Blondie’s first Australian tour at the time, with the band playing Bombay Rock in addition to their concert at the Palais Theatre. 

Other bands to play there included Boys Next Door, INXS, Australian Crawl, The Angels, Cold Chisel, XTC, The Sunnyboys, Flowers, JAB, The Church, La Femme, Negatives, Teenage Radio Stars, Paul Kelly and the Dots, Kevin Borich, The Sports, Lonely Hearts, Sherbet, The Zorros, Dave Warner's From the Suburbs and Skyhooks. Once established, Bombay rock also hosted a number of international acts including Dead Kennedy's Eric Burdon, Steppenwolf, The Knack, Bo Diddley, Boomtown Rats, and New Zealand band, Mi Sex.

Gaultieri wrapped up his Bombay Rock around late 1983. He then moved to Earl’s Court, on the Upper Esplanade, St. Kilda, next to St Moritz ice skating rink. It was a large dance hall which was being run as a Greek nightclub. It was there that he launched his next rock gig, The Venue.

Click HERE for a list of gigs at Bombay Rock.

Click on the PDF below to read memories about Bombay Rock by people who were there...
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  • Main Image - Bombay Rock promotional material, c. 1979 - Source: Joe Gaultieri
  • Background Image - Bombay Rock flier, 1978 - Source: From the Archives
  • Bombay Rock, 1978 - 1983 - Sources: Joe Gaultieri, Third Stone Press, Facebook, From the Archives