Sunday History Photo. Au

Submitted: Sunday, Feb 01, 2009 at 01:42
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On February 18 1954, an advertisement appeared in the Melbourne Sun; "Opening tonight at 6:30 Australia's first drive-in theater". The Skyline in Burwood, a Melbourne suburb, became the first of more than 330 drive-ins that were built across Australia and changed the way Australians saw movies forever.
Most older people have gone to a drive-in at some stage in their lives and unfortunately there's a good chance that they will disappear altogether at some stage in the future. Going to the drive in became a national pastime in Australia at one stage when people would go out in a group and on entry would have 4 in the car and 2 in the boot. A sagging back end of the car was a dead give away but it doesn't stop people trying even today. Others would go out with partners as it was a bit more private than actually sitting in an indoor movie theatre but still had all the amenities as a indoor movie theatre such as toilets and snack bar.
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Fortunately there are still some left scattered throughout Australia but nowhere near the amount of 330. There are now only 21 drive-in theatres throughout Australia which are still running with 3 in Victoria, 4 in New South Wales, 6 in Queensland, 5 in Western Australia, 3 in South Australia, 0 in Tasmania and 0 in the Northern Territory. The reason so many drive-ins closed come down to 2 major factors. The first is that the land that the drive-ins occupied became so expensive that the owners cashed in. The other reason was the VCR with many people now choosing to stay home and watch movies in the comfort of their own lounge room. It became much cheaper to rent a movie from the video store and watch it at home rather than taking the whole family to the drive-in. This is still the case today for a lot of people when it comes to taking the family out to a movie theatre.

I also thank David Kilderry Summer for permission to use a couple of Photo's from his website . to check your town go toDrive-Ins
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Reply By: Member - Doug T (NT) - Sunday, Feb 01, 2009 at 01:44

Sunday, Feb 01, 2009 at 01:44
Tis a bugger when you hit the wrong button, I also had this one to add.

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Reply By: Member - Paul C (WA) - Sunday, Feb 01, 2009 at 02:22

Sunday, Feb 01, 2009 at 02:22
Damn, only 21 left, that is a shame.
Used to be a Sunday night ritual and, as the slimmest in the car, I was always in the boot!!
Driving into Karratha a couple of times a month, I always look up at the delapidated Drive In screen and think "What a shame" but at the same time it brings back great memories.

Thanks for the post Doug.

AnswerID: 346972

Follow Up By: RV Powerstream P/L - Sunday, Feb 01, 2009 at 07:38

Sunday, Feb 01, 2009 at 07:38
Hiding in the boot but you got caught when the boot openedand you were dobbed in.

You had to be sneaky Morris Minors had a back seat that folded down so you got in and out of the boot without leaving the car.

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Follow Up By: Member - Paul C (WA) - Sunday, Feb 01, 2009 at 12:52

Sunday, Feb 01, 2009 at 12:52

Used to do that in an XF Falcon for a while. Had to climb through where the centre armrest came down.
Mission Impossible today!

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Reply By: Boobook2 - Sunday, Feb 01, 2009 at 06:57

Sunday, Feb 01, 2009 at 06:57
Once again fascinating reading Doug. Great reading and memories.
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Reply By: Member - KC (TAS) - Sunday, Feb 01, 2009 at 07:15

Sunday, Feb 01, 2009 at 07:15
Ahh Doug T..the memories..I remember well..
When I started going with the parents,
Bob's worth of chips and a bottle coke
at half time..
And all the lollies you'd get on your b'day...
Thanks for that Doug T.....great stuff..
AnswerID: 346976

Reply By: Michael ( Moss Vale NSW) - Sunday, Feb 01, 2009 at 07:52

Sunday, Feb 01, 2009 at 07:52
The one in West Dubbo is still sitting there intact.. I think they closed it because they were slashing the seats!!!! Michael
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Reply By: Member - Dennis P (Scotland) - Sunday, Feb 01, 2009 at 07:57

Sunday, Feb 01, 2009 at 07:57
Geez, well done, Doug!
First one I ever went to was at Berri in the late 50's, early 60's when Dad had a farm in the Mallee, big line-up for the Punt afterwards.
'Funniest' was at Willooka in the SE, little screen, sound was from 2 speakers on high poles and about 20 cars. OK in summer but a pain if it was raining.


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Follow Up By: Nickywoop - Sunday, Feb 01, 2009 at 08:55

Sunday, Feb 01, 2009 at 08:55
Great one once again put up by Doug.

I can remember the Willalooka drivein in SE-SA very well, wasn't she a little pearler.
I can remember the first time I ever went to a drivein, it was in Mount Gambier with friends of mum and dads, about 50 years ago.

Can even remember the two movies that were on that night in black and white:

#1. Adventures of Norman Wisdom.

#2. Code Two. (It was about a group of cops that chased after cattle theives).

Can any other remember their first night at the drivein, or the movies ?

Regards Nick

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Reply By: maztez2 - Sunday, Feb 01, 2009 at 08:13

Sunday, Feb 01, 2009 at 08:13
Gidday Doug T . Some memories there .My wife worked at the drive in Darwin at Nightcliff (Coconut Grove ) back in the 70s and many a night was spent with our 2 kids asleep on a blanket waiting for mum to finish work .
cheers Terry & Marilyn
AnswerID: 346980

Follow Up By: Member - MUZBRY(Vic) - Sunday, Feb 01, 2009 at 11:05

Sunday, Feb 01, 2009 at 11:05
Kathy and i spent many nights in that drivein. We also lived in the van park behind the screen.
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Follow Up By: Member - Fred G NSW - Sunday, Feb 01, 2009 at 11:09

Sunday, Feb 01, 2009 at 11:09
G'day Terry & Marilyn, I can remember going to a drive in off Bagot Road, I think ?? near Nightcliffe in the 60's. Not many sat in their cars though, fold up deck chairs and eskys were the go, with lots of insect repellant.

Cheers from Fred.
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Follow Up By: Member - Robert M (QLD) - Sunday, Feb 01, 2009 at 12:37

Sunday, Feb 01, 2009 at 12:37
G'day T an M, I went to the Nightcliff Drive-in a few times,
About 71 or 72 getting busted by the Housemaster from College springing me walking out the gate after we had snuck in by climbing over the fence behind the screen, it was a lousy movie so I left early and the Housemaster was cruising to find the kids who had snuck off from the Guy Fawkes display at Bagot Park Speedway.
Rob Mac
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Reply By: Member - Nick (TAS) - Sunday, Feb 01, 2009 at 08:16

Sunday, Feb 01, 2009 at 08:16
I maybe to young to remember the ones down here in Tassie but we made sure that while living in Kununurra, we went to the outdoor picture's a few times.
AnswerID: 346982

Reply By: Member - Alan H (QLD) - Sunday, Feb 01, 2009 at 08:19

Sunday, Feb 01, 2009 at 08:19
Remember going to one in Tasmania many years ago. It was summer and had summer time I think. It didn't get dark till about 10pm so the event went fairly late.

They don't work well in the rain or when the moon is full and just over the screen. Actually weather caused a great deal of problem for profitability as summer rains could mean hardly anyone went for weeks. But not a problem in droughts.

There is or was an interesting one at Jericho (central QLD) when they had an open air (no roof) theatre with seats and a hadfull of car places up the back so it was a mixture of drivein and theatre.

AnswerID: 346983

Follow Up By: Member - Doug T (NT) - Sunday, Feb 01, 2009 at 08:52

Sunday, Feb 01, 2009 at 08:52
Jericho... yes , been passed it many times, and it does still operate, I see in his list it reads as 30 cars, I counted the outlets and I think only positions for 14, maybe someone can verify that,

see the LINK

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Follow Up By: Member - Ruth D (QLD) - Sunday, Feb 01, 2009 at 10:38

Sunday, Feb 01, 2009 at 10:38
Hi Doug and Kids, I lived in Jericho and used to go to the Drive In there - but mostly I walked in! Each side of the projection room there were open stands for the walk in/sit in but you had to pick the right side - the oldies and the smoochers! I don't think I ever saw 30 cars but it used to be packed.
Here in Birdsville we have a large outdoors screen in the grounds of our Hall - but it was never a drive in.
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Reply By: Best Off Road - Sunday, Feb 01, 2009 at 08:32

Sunday, Feb 01, 2009 at 08:32
Thanks Doug,

That sure brings back some memories.

In the early nineties we were living in Townsville and "The Range" Drive In had a special every Sunday Night $5 per car.

With the lovely balmy tropical evenings we would regulalry go. Reverse the GQ in, make up a bed for the boys (about 4 and 8 yo) in the back with the rear doors open. The GLW and myself would sit outside on folding chairs. Esky with a cold chook, salad, bread rolls and assorted refreshments.

It was just a great family night out. But even then at a ridiculously cheap price the place rarely had more than 20 cars there.



AnswerID: 346984

Reply By: Ups and Downs - Sunday, Feb 01, 2009 at 08:38

Sunday, Feb 01, 2009 at 08:38
The WA list has one at Margaret River as one of the 5 in the state.

That is not there but don't know when it disappeared, so that leaves 4 in WA, 20 Austrtalia wide.

AnswerID: 346989

Follow Up By: Member - John L (WA) - Sunday, Feb 01, 2009 at 09:24

Sunday, Feb 01, 2009 at 09:24
Margaret River closed 7 years ago & now is an indoor 35mm cinema completely run by Arts Margaret River volunteers on Sundays & Tuesdays. Ron Jones' grandfather started 'magic lantern' movies in the timber towns of the South West in the 1920's. The 'first' drive in was at Yallingup where a sheet was strung between 2 trees & people came in their horse & carts! Ron still runs the drive-in at Busselton but daylight saving is ruining his business. He also has an incredible collection of movie gear - hoping one day to put in a museum. Cheers Heather
FollowupID: 615112

Reply By: Member - DAZA (QLD) - Sunday, Feb 01, 2009 at 09:18

Sunday, Feb 01, 2009 at 09:18
Hi Doug

Again you have activated the Memory Bank, we used to go to all
the Drive Ins up in Brisbane and also on the Gold Coast, the Aspley
and Boondall were our favourites, and on the Gold Coast was the
Burleigh, currently they still have the Beenleigh/Yatala one still open
on the Coast, we used to take the kids on a regular basis, we would
reverse the wagon towards the screen and sit out side on fold up
chairs and the kids would lay in the back of the wagon,
I remember one night at the Boondall Drive In, I took a young lady
there and at interval we got out to stretch our legs ect ect, and
I went and got some food from the Canteen, on the way back the
lights went out, and I got into the Wrong Car, in the back seat,
here I am thinking my lady friend must be still in the toilet, any way
the owners of the vehicle come back and found me, I had some
explaining to do, Never Drink at the Drive In.

AnswerID: 346995

Reply By: Member No 1- Sunday, Feb 01, 2009 at 09:42

Sunday, Feb 01, 2009 at 09:42
drive in's...
were just the best place to learn about life
your subject brings back so many fond memories of some special friends....
AnswerID: 347001

Reply By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Sunday, Feb 01, 2009 at 10:01

Sunday, Feb 01, 2009 at 10:01
Hi Doug
When they were in their hey day, a local company, here in Clare SA, the then LR Hore & Son travelled Australia making and erecting them.


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AnswerID: 347006

Reply By: Member - Ruth D (QLD) - Sunday, Feb 01, 2009 at 10:55

Sunday, Feb 01, 2009 at 10:55
Like Daza I grew up in Brisbane and on Friday nights when my Dad got home from Queen Street to the western suburbs (out in the bush then) we would all get in the car and drive to the Skyline at Capalaba or the Starlight at Aspley. We'd have tea at the Steakhouse and then kids would sleep on the back seat of the Holden (various models) and sometimes I'd wake up and Mum would be bawling at some sickening love scene - I can remember seeing Blue Lagoon (the original) and being scared to death (peering over the front seat) when the octopus grabbed the bloke!
Ian and I used to go to the Starlight (in his Daytona Bronze Monaro - with the lay back seats!) and Ian always reckons lots of kids should be grateful their parents went to Drive-Ins - not us though, I was a good girl. Ask him, he'll tell you!!!
I still love going to the movies - best entertainment out - but I only like nice ones. I go to be entertained not scared to death.
As a kid - we hardly missed a Friday night - and if you didn't whinge too much (and were still awake) you got a good treat from the cafe (I always wanted to wear one of the uniforms the ladies wore who worked there - where did that memory come from).
Friday night was Drive-In night, Saturday night was parents party night and early Sunday morning (before the olds got up - you kids keep quiet and don't make any noise until after nine o'clock) was when the kids ran around where the party was drinking all the left overs out of the glasses and bottles and then pretended we were drunk!! Didn't kill us either.
Good memories, thanks Doug.
AnswerID: 347014

Reply By: On Patrol & TONI - Sunday, Feb 01, 2009 at 11:29

Sunday, Feb 01, 2009 at 11:29
Good one Doug,
My favourite memory was one COLD August night in North Canberra Drive-In.

As you could imagine August in Canberra is colder than a Mother-in-laws stare, so to attract customers they had small fan heaters that hung on the post next to the speaker, how good was that??? Pull up grab the heater and hang it from the window alongside the speaker.

That was around 1972, 4 of us lying side by side in the bed of a VW Dormobile parked "back in" with the back door open, it got so hot there in that bed that the heater was not needed after very long. My wife & I still laugh about that night, and we are still very close friends with the other couple with us that night, I cannot for the life of me remember the film we didn't see.

Cheers Colin.
AnswerID: 347022

Follow Up By: Member - DAZA (QLD) - Sunday, Feb 01, 2009 at 21:06

Sunday, Feb 01, 2009 at 21:06
Yes it was amazing how all the Windows used to Fog up on the inside lol lol.
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