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Locals fume as eerie photos of 'squalid' Aussie shopping mall emerge

It was once an iconic shopping centre, yet new photos shows the mall's derelict state is a far cry from its former glory.

Eerie photos of a once-bustling shopping mall that's been left to deteriorate for months on end have enraged nearby residents, who have criticised both the local council and the premises's developers for the state of the "squalid eyesore".

The previously popular section of the Hunter Street Mall shopping centre, in Newcastle, NSW, gradually closed down in stages with plans to redevelop the site into a mixed residential and retail space. The last few stores — Sportsgirl, Sussan, The Birdcage on Hunter and Tree of Life — officially closed their doors in April 2023 and since then, the site has fallen into a derelict state.

Photos shock Newcastle residents

In scenes comparable to the post-apocalyptic drama The Last of Us, a series of eerie photographs posted to social media show just how just "wrecked" the "sad" the former shopping mall has become.

An escalator out of use (left) and a walkway with tables trashed.
Parts of the Hunter Street mall have been left to rot. Source: Square Peg / Facebook.

Over a dozen photos uploaded to Facebook show smashed-in windows, garbage flooding the floors, broken down escalators, and tables and chairs that were once filled with shoppers now overrun with rubbish, graffiti and weeds. In one image, parts of a former food court's ceiling can be seen having collapsed to the ground.

The site is part of an $880 million redevelopment plan, which has yet to commence.
The site is part of an $880 million redevelopment plan, which has yet to commence. Source: Square Peg / Facebook

Redevelopment underway

The mall is part of a whopping $880 million renovation by developers Iris Capital, which includes a number of nearby sites, according to the City of Newcastle Council. Speaking to Yahoo News Australia, a spokeswoman for the council said construction is expected to start in just a matter of days to revamp the site, which, she said had become a considerable safety risk for locals due to its decrepit state.

"City of Newcastle (CN) has been working with NSW Police and Iris Capital as the property owner in relation to significant public safety concerns around part of the Hunter Mall," the spokesperson said, confirming the demolition of non-heritage buildings on the site would shortly be demolished.

The once-bustling shopping precinct has now fallen into a derelict state.
The once-bustling shopping precinct has now fallen into a derelict state. Source: Square Peg / Facebook.
Shopfronts can be seen smashed in.
Shopfronts can be seen smashed in. Source: Square Peg / Facebook.

Mayor 'committed' to returning mall to glory days

Previously, Newcastle Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said the council was committed to the strip's revitalisation and aimed to return it to an "attractive destination for locals and visitors."

“Delivering the long overdue transformation in the Hunter Street Mall has been a vital project for City renewal," she said last year.

Weeds are overgrown throughout the site and graffiti is rampant. Source: Square Peg / Facebook.
Weeds are overgrown throughout the site and graffiti is rampant. Source: Square Peg / Facebook.

Online, the post attracted over 1,000 interactions, with many locals responding with rage over how the building had been left to decay.

Dozens reminisced over happier times in the centre, remembering their childhoods and "the quirky shops", while others pointed to what they said was "another disgraceful building gone to rack and ruins."

Yahoo News Australia has contacted Iris Capital for an update on the demolition.

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