Movie Theatre - Magic Lantern - the Story of Burrill Lake Open Air Theatre

10th Anniversary Edition - "Magic Lantern"

Burrill Lake Open Air Theatre Location

A markerBURRILL LAKE NEW SOUTH WALES -
Burrill Lake NSW 2539, Australia
[get directions]

BURRILL LAKE OPEN AIR THEATRE was situated right where the marker is. Now an area of tiny little villas. If only they knew the history of their site!

BURRILL LAKE OPEN AIR THEATRE
BURRILL LAKE OPEN AIR THEATRE

Nostalgia, a Memory of the Burrill Lake Open Air Theatre

This site is dedicated to a memory of the BURRILL LAKE OPEN AIR THEATRE that was located at Burrill Lake, south coast, New South Wales, Australia.

FROM A SHOALHAVEN SHIRE COUNCIL REPORT ON BURRILL LAKE:

"The built character on the coast is also changing as new owners renovate or demolish and rebuild the fibro cottages. Inevitably, this will result in the loss of the original low-key holiday character that contributes to the local heritage. An example of the loss of the tourist character was the demolition of the Burrill Lake open-air theatre, a rare and significant building to the State, which was demolished in 2000."

"a rare and significant building to the State", yet, still lost, vanished into the mists of time as many movie houses are around the world..... but now with the opportunity of being rediscovered and reliving through web sites such as these....

Include below are links to the movie, and to the separate original music score soundtrack.

IN THE BEGINNING

The theatre was built and opened in 1946 by an American George Dean. It ran as a movie house into the 1990's.

As a child I started going to this theatre when I was on holidays in the 1950's. Our holiday letting was just across from this rather strange hybrid of a theatre.

The theatre had half a roof where you sat on canvas slung between supported poles. The open section for many years had the same seating arragement. As a kid this was a real buzz, especially when you walked in through the front entrance which was next to the screen and you walk out into this auditorium and looked straight up and saw the stars above.

This site will attempt to show what it was like through photos and reminises from myself and people who attended.

There is also a link to where a downloadable video documentary is available on this theatre as well.

Check out the other parts of MAGIC LANTERN to this time capsule on the BURRILL LAKE OPEN AIR THEATRE.

It should all bring back memories of that special movie house which may also be long gone that you went to as a child......

1946 - Brand New and Ready for the Public

The opening week in 1946 with DRAGONWYCK as the main feature.
The opening week in 1946 with DRAGONWYCK as the main feature.

Being built at the end of World War II, George Dean found it hard to get suitable materials and scrounged around for whatever he could lay his hands on.

Walls were made of timber palings, corrugated iron and bits and pieces of everything. He also built the screen housing so it had a stage large enough for live performances. Even towards the end of the theatre's life there were still some of the old stage lights in the ceiling above the screen.

With ample grounds around the theatre, he put in lovely gardens, but if it rained......

IN TIMES OF FLOOD...
IN TIMES OF FLOOD...

Well, it just didn't go down too well if people had to wade through water to get into the theatre. This was put up with for years, even when I was a kid. But when there was no water, it still had me entranced. Yet from that time in the 1950's, my father only even took one photo of the theatre and even then it was in the background....

ME and the MOVIE HOUSE
ME and the MOVIE HOUSE

Surrounded by my girlfriends, the tall boy in the back is my brother, that's me with hands on hips, I proudly pose with my favorite movie house in the background. Note the covered walkway to the theatre front.

A Kid in the Audience
A Kid in the Audience

So just like this kid, I sat in the audience with eyes wide open as a Walt Disney movie unspooled...

Yahooing Kids!
Yahooing Kids!

Even though the older kids might have carried on, soon they would settle down and watch the show.

NOVEMBER 1968 MOVIE PROGRAM
NOVEMBER 1968 MOVIE PROGRAM

Here's a movie program for November 1968. Look at those movie admission prices! I wish it was like that today!

OCTOBER 1969 MOVIE PROGRAM
OCTOBER 1969 MOVIE PROGRAM

Yes, these old movies actually screened once in a theatre. That's when they were new! Not only that, but for a week at a time. Now you can buy these movies for $2 in ex-rental dvd movie sales or watch them on your big home cinema screen beamed in by satellite!

Canvas seats slung between poles on supports.
Canvas seats slung between poles on supports.
The screen area and lawn in later years.
The screen area and lawn in later years.

The Riley Years

Brian Riley discovered this Hubpages site in June 2009 and says:

Historic Moment, Semi Open Air Theatre Receives World Wide Acclaim

"This theatre was built by George Dean after the war with whatever materials were available at the time, opening for business in 1948.

In 1954 was bought by my parents Elsie & Harold Riley, along with 7 acres of land and a home, and was in their procession for 20 years.

In the early days I would come home from school do my homework and then go over and sell sweets and drinks from a tray around my neck in the aisles, doing the same at interval between features. Being close to the lake when heavy rains occurred was often flooded half way up through the rows of seats.

During the showing of the TEN COMMANDMENTS the theatre was credited with the world wide attendance record per capita of population, at the time the population of Burrill Lakes was 495 people, yet 5500 people went through the doors in one week of screening, with the Italian fishing community from Ulladulla spilling over into the aisles on the Tuesday night. This was acclaimed by the distributors of the movie, with my parents being asked to attend a special awards function in Sydney with Rod Taylor the actor being the presenter."



The Rileys with Actor Rod Taylor

In the photo shown from the left are Rod Taylor, Brian's father Harold Riley, the then CEO of Hoyts distributors, Brian's mother Elsie Riley, and the then CEO of Chas E Banks promotion and advertising.
In the photo shown from the left are Rod Taylor, Brian's father Harold Riley, the then CEO of Hoyts distributors, Brian's mother Elsie Riley, and the then CEO of Chas E Banks promotion and advertising.

The Riley Years Memories

Brian Riley fondly remembers another great memory.

"Another great event to have happened during their time with the theatre was the showing of the DAM BUSTERS which was the bombing of the major German Dams with specially designed bombs that bounced across the water and came to rest and sink down the wall before exploding and breaking the dam wall. A rear gunner from one of the planes was living nearby and before the showing of the movie stood on stage and spoke of the event as well as answering many questions asked by the patrons in the theatre."

LATER YEARS


"This theatre was a holiday Mecca, after my parents sold the theatre it went downhill for a while until a group of 3 movie goers that had holidays at Burrill Lakes while growing up took on a lease and reopened the theatre, unfortunately with TV and other elements was closed again in the 90,s being sadly demolished in 2000.."

ALAN SAYS:

Thanks Brian for sharing these great memories and we look forward to seeing more photos from your families time there.

CHECK OUT MY HUB:

MOVIES - THE TIME MACHINE (1960) - WHAT THREE BOOKS WOULD YOU TAKE?

BURRILL LAKE OPEN AIR THEATRE in the early 1970's
BURRILL LAKE OPEN AIR THEATRE in the early 1970's
A closer view of where the movie posters use to go. Note the top of the ticket box is still there and made out of tree bark!
A closer view of where the movie posters use to go. Note the top of the ticket box is still there and made out of tree bark!

SEE THE STARS

SEE THE STARS 1985

We fast forward to 1985 when SEE THE STARS PTY LTD took over the running of a theatre that had seen better days.

There were three of us, Don Friend, Jim Davis and myself, Alan Bond, keen theatre enthusiasts but soon to find we were babes in the woods of the film industry....

I had known both Don and Jim for years, having first met Don in 1972. Only when we started getting interested in running this theatre that both of us discovered that we had both gone there as kids!!! (TWILIGHT ZONE TIME...)

It was through Jim's bank manager that we each got small loans to help kick off the theatre for us. The manager actually seemed to know what we were talking about, then he told us he was the son of one of the people who ran the old store just down the road from the theatre (SHADES OF THE TWILIGHT ZONE AGAIN!!...)

So armed with our loans we went off to do up the theatre with good 2nd hand projection/sound equipment; big new sign for the theatre entrance; a new screen and more enthusiasm than a barrel full of monkeys who a little down the track would have been better off running the theatre.....


PARTNERS IN SHOWTIME

DON, ALAN and JIM showing that we at least knew what a thumb was.…
DON, ALAN and JIM showing that we at least knew what a thumb was.…
Auditorium and those wonderful canvas seats..…
Auditorium and those wonderful canvas seats..…
The new screen in the housing... note the corrugated iron walls......
The new screen in the housing... note the corrugated iron walls......

THE FIDDLY THINGS

On we plodded, putting in the new screen, working away, media articles, advertising for staff, and all working together......


AND IT GOES TOGETHER LIKE THIS...

LOCAL MEDIA ARTICLE
LOCAL MEDIA ARTICLE
"I think you turn it on here...."
"I think you turn it on here...."
Our original staff ad…
Our original staff ad…
"It's not life as we know it, Jim..."  "Yeah, but what happens if it rains?" "Shh, don't ask that question...."
"It's not life as we know it, Jim..." "Yeah, but what happens if it rains?" "Shh, don't ask that question...."
Don and Jim checking out where the new sign will go…
Don and Jim checking out where the new sign will go…
Jim sawing the sign to fit.…
Jim sawing the sign to fit.…
Don and Jim getting sections of sign into place.... "I'd give you a hand, boys, but I'm taking the photo..."
Don and Jim getting sections of sign into place.... "I'd give you a hand, boys, but I'm taking the photo..."
"Don, I told you, you won't have to stand there holding the sign up for the next 5 years!"  "Hey, Alan, can you give us a hand?!!" "It's alright, boys, I'm taking the photo. It's history."  "You'll be history!"
"Don, I told you, you won't have to stand there holding the sign up for the next 5 years!" "Hey, Alan, can you give us a hand?!!" "It's alright, boys, I'm taking the photo. It's history." "You'll be history!"
Sign, posters and display cases and ready to go..…
Sign, posters and display cases and ready to go..…
IT'S A KIND OF MAGIC.…
IT'S A KIND OF MAGIC.…

NEW SCREEN and PROJECTION GEAR

Having got the all important new sign up, we turned our attention to the screen, putting the you beaut new screen in, while at the same time have the 2nd hand Kalee Projectors installed along with a new sound system.


ALAN: "You're doing a great job, boys! I'd give you a hand but I'm taking a photo!"
ALAN: "You're doing a great job, boys! I'd give you a hand but I'm taking a photo!"
ALAN: "Going great, boys, I'd really love to give you a hand, but I'm taking a photo..."
ALAN: "Going great, boys, I'd really love to give you a hand, but I'm taking a photo..."
And now the Magic Lanterns are installed and ready to show another world…
And now the Magic Lanterns are installed and ready to show another world…
Our opening February 1985 program guide…
Our opening February 1985 program guide…
Bob getting the Magic Lantern projectors ready..…
Bob getting the Magic Lantern projectors ready..…
People start to line up, carrying their pillows to sit on and maybe a rug.…
People start to line up, carrying their pillows to sit on and maybe a rug.…
Our manager, Don Mills, greets people in this holiday atmosphere..…
Our manager, Don Mills, greets people in this holiday atmosphere..…
People are shown to their seats.…
People are shown to their seats.…
And on with the show!!!
And on with the show!!!

When a Film Goes off It's Sprockets!!

The BURRILL LAKE OPEN AIR THEATRE certainly proved to be only a working proposition during school, Easter and Christmas Holidays.

But unfortunately the theatre was not well looked after by it's then owner. So when disaster struck, we had to shell out for repairs from our own pocket because we discovered the owner had no insurance on the theatre!!!!

We had public risk but no building or contents insurance, that was up to the owner as it was his building and contents.

The theatre being subject to the weather elements would occasionally come under siege from wind, rain, neglect and even people.

Here is a an example of wind damage to the most vulnerable part of the theatre - the screen!


GONE WITH THE WIND.....LITERALLY!!!!
GONE WITH THE WIND.....LITERALLY!!!!
GONE WITH THE WIND PART 2 -The weather shield, tattered and torn.
GONE WITH THE WIND PART 2 -The weather shield, tattered and torn.

Of course this was only the wind effect, let us not forget about the rain. pretty hard to run a movie theatre when it's raining.... Now even though the majority of seating was under cover, because the building was not looked after, well, the patrons, could take a shower with the amount of water that leaked through holes in the roof as shown in the next photo…


NEVER RAINS, BUT POURS...

There was no singin' in the rain here...…
There was no singin' in the rain here...…
A theatre with it's own running water...…
A theatre with it's own running water...…
... and if that's wasn't good enough, here's a nice hole in the ceiling that the rain came through.. I tell ya.…
... and if that's wasn't good enough, here's a nice hole in the ceiling that the rain came through.. I tell ya.…

HOLE IN THE WALL

Some of the problems that beset us were not weather but man made.

When Don and I went down one weekend before the start of a 2 week school holiday period, we were confronted by a hole in the wall, and it certainly wasn't put there by the "Hole in the Wall Gang".…


HOLE IN THE WALL, and it wasn't a new entrance and…
HOLE IN THE WALL, and it wasn't a new entrance and…
..... was certainly not small but that's not all, folks!
..... was certainly not small but that's not all, folks!

There was also the removal of seats, and mounds of dirt placed in their stead. Remember this was only one week before we opened for holidays!!!!


The owners excuse was that he was trying to help us....... some help! He never asked us.. never told us, and we paid rent for the theatre which did not entitle him to enter the premises! But it turned out to be a double edged sword, as eventually we had a lawn in front of the screen, but not for this lot of school holidays.. it did not make for a happy time.....

Now for some more happy snaps...

When you use 2 projectors, you have what they call change over cues at the end of a reel of film (you know those little circles, sometimes called cigarette burns, up in the right hand corner). The first lot give you a 10 second warning and you start the 2nd projector. The idea is when you see the 2nd set of cues, you flick a switch and off you go with the 2nd projector. If it's a smooth change over, the audience will not notice it... BUT, and that's an awfully BIG BUT, sometimes things go wrong.... awfully embarrassing.....

The little solenoid that causes this change over can go bust, as it did here…


Here is the lamp housing pulled back to show where the burnt out solenoid lived.... where that wire is hanging out in the centre.…
Here is the lamp housing pulled back to show where the burnt out solenoid lived.... where that wire is hanging out in the centre.…
... and this is the burnt out solenoid…
... and this is the burnt out solenoid…
... and burnt out it is.…
... and burnt out it is.…

The Beginning of the End

Other things happened. There was the time a high school from Canberra ( a little place in Australia where the Australia Government presides) had a special school screening.

Just before the 2nd feature started after interval, I noticed a decent hole in the screen. Two idiot students thought it would be funny to run around the screen and punch a hole in it. The school said they would fix everything up.... but as soon as they were back in Canberra, they told me it was between me and the parents/boys concerned.... after some court action, they were made to pay for a new screen... remember the owner had no insurance.... however after about two payments, then a string of abusive answer phone messages from the parents.. the payments and people concerned disappeared... which proves the old saying, that's show business.…


Canberra High School Destructive Visit.

My late parents, Ken and Betty Bond, unimpressed with the punched hole through the screen by Canberra High School students.
My late parents, Ken and Betty Bond, unimpressed with the punched hole through the screen by Canberra High School students.

AS TIME GOES BY

In the life span of 5 years that I was involved with this theatre, Jim left, then Don left and I was left with the theatre. It did reasonably enough but in 1990, it was time for me to move on as well.

The theatre was run more or less as a token by others and by 1995 the theatre was nothing more than a shell and had become a storage place for trucks... the owner drove them for a living.... well, what else could I say...?


A Storage Place for Trucks

AN UNBELIEVABLE OFFER

Then in the late 1990s the theatre changed hands and the new owner offered the theatre to me to run again for no rent (!) but there's no HAPPY ENDING here...

Not only were there no seats in the theatre, it had no projection equipment... this guy had to be kidding..... then one day.…

INTO THE MISTS OF TIME

GOING....
GOING....
GOING....
GOING....
GONE...  and what has replaced it has no warrant of mention here..…
GONE... and what has replaced it has no warrant of mention here..…

One Last Thing, the Memories of Others

And now here are some memories of other people who went to the theatre just like did. They sent me comments when they either came across the original web site I had for this theatre or who had seen the documentary I made and wanted to share their thoughts of a time gone by...... my responses follow theirs..... and it is hoped that others will add into the comment section of this Hub site.

15 January 2005

ALAN.

A fantastic site for memories of the theatre. It is a shame that the site was demolished, the Heritage Trust should have funds for the aquisition of suchirreplacable venues. I understand there was interest from the Heritage Trust in regards to Burrill Lake Theatre, ie. heritage listing of the property. However the local council, only required photos for documentation. The location now 'features' an over 55's overdevelopment, that looks like a concrete jungle.

THANKS FOR THE OPPORTUNITY TO LOOK BACK ON THE PAST, WISH IT WAS STILL THERE.

REGARDS, CATHY.

28 April 2005

This very fine reminisce comes from Swan Greg Jaimes:

Burrill Theatre holds some of the most vivid memories of my childhood, every summer my family would up stakes and camp at Bungalow Park (next to the Theatre) for five weeks.

Each night from our tent you would watch the procession of people heading to the theatre, all walking zombie like, as if extras from the movie 'The Night of the Living Dead', the veteran Burrill Movie Theatre patrons could be spotted as they carried pillows with them to cushion their vulnerable posteriors from the abrasive canvas seats and to stop themselves being concussed as they reclined their heads back onto the 3 inch plumbing pipe that held the backs of the seats up.

The real smarties in the crowd also brought Aerogard spray to keep the mozzies at bay, it was not unusual to hear the slapping of ankles and arms then a call of 'Pass the Aerogard!'

How I envied the posh people who had their canvas deck chair seats reserved by having a piece of timber padded with a dark mustard vinyl covering placed along the seating.

I remember the first time my dad took me to see a film there, it looked pretty rough from the outside with just corrugated walls, but when we walked into the foyer I thought 'How swish!' they had a candy bar, and I seem to remember red curtains, a man stood at the entrance to the theatre in a suit with a bow tie!He took our tickets and pulled the red curtain across for us to enter. I remember looking up at dad with a look of shock when we were greeted by the sight of the tin walls, lamppost support pillars, a VERY rough cement floor that petered out to a dirt trail AND the (in)famous seats, as I sort of described before, the seating consisted of wood posts at either end of a long row, the front post lower than the back, canvas was stitched around plumbing pipe that ran across the posts so it was like a long line of deck chairs.

Being exposed to the elements (did I mention that this Theatre only had about a third of the seats under cover?, the rest was down the front in the open air) the canvas seating, and especially the stitching would become weakened, without a word of a lie I remember watching a war movie with my dad one night and we heard what sounded like someone's pants tearing, only to have the seat in front of my dad give way as the top stitching split, the lady in the seat fell straight backwards and her head landed in my fathers lap!.

We were always treated and sat in the undercover part, quite often it would start to rain in the middle of the movie and you would laugh and think 'Suckers!' as the crowd down the front fled up the isle to sit on the cement floor.

I recall watching 'Romancing the Stone' and 'Give My Regards to Broadstreet' in the summer of 1984/5, (SEE THE STARS took the Theatre over in February 1985, after the summer season - Alan) probably the last time I went to theatre, I remember a scene in 'Romancing the Stone' where they were in the arid desert and from outside the theatre came a flock of seagulls drawn to the light and danced and swooped in front of the screen, it was quite surreal. I don't think it was uncommon for seagulls to crash into the screen, they would be drawn to the light and the on screen scenery that looked like the daylight outdoors. (We didn't get seagulls, only God damned Bogon Moths that would sit on the screen! - Alan)

Whenever it was time for a new movie the octagonal film containers covered in stickers would be left outside the shop on the main road to be picked up, again such vivid memories. (I remember this too as kid -Alan)

One thing that held a special fascination for me (no idea why, maybe it was the seeds of my future movie poster collecting hobby being sown) but I always loved the day when the people would come around and paste up the new posters of the forthcoming features, I remember they were pasted up onto blank squares of tin, outside the shop they had a special frame and board to paste them on, but in the camp ground the tin was nailed up between two tree's just near the amenities block.

I couldn't wait for the poster person to come along with there tin pot of glue (probably corn flour and water) and big wide brush and slap the goo over the old poster, lay over the new one then apply another coat of the clear paste, by the end of the summer these posters would be about half an inch thick with all the layered posters. I can still smell the paste. I loved going over to them after it had rained and poking my finger into them as they were like a big gooey sponge (I was only a child remember ha ha). I do remember one movie poster being for Ringo Starr's 'Blindman' a spaghetti western, I've since purchased that poster.

I suppose it had to be torn down though, I mean they don't make waterproof digital 5.1 theatre surround sound systems do they? (Give them time, I'm sure they will! -Alan)

Greg.

4 SEPTEMBER 2005

Thank you Alan for an opportunity to revisit part of our history. My fondest memories were the canvas chairs, the fireplaces, and watching Lawrence of Arabia trek through a hot and dry desert whilst it was pouring rain in front of the screen in Burrill.

Cheers and Best Wishes, Margaret Nyholm

(My family was down one weekend when Larry of the Desert was on and we all went off to see it as well. Someone threw a Jaffa and hit Mum on the glasses, oh well.... Alan)

13 SEPTEMBER 2005

Alan. Many thanks for such wonderful memories of the Open Air Theatre. Your site has brought back many wonderful memories of childhood holidays spent at Burrill Lake during the 1950's.

My grandfather was caretaker of the Council owned camping area and many a summer evening we would walk across the creek and park to go the movies. I vividly remember seeing the movie Moby Dick one summer evening when a thunder storm added to the atmosphere.

In later years our family holidayed at Lake Tabourie and we often visited the theatre with our two girls. Our girls thought it was wonderful especially when they could buy a sausage roll for 5 cents.

One evening our family were the only patrons and we suggested that maybe we could return at a later time when there would also be others. The manager insisted that he show us the movie at that time and as an added treat for our girls took them to the projectionist box and showed them how all the workings of the projector.

We have great memories of watching Top Gun from the grass that night.

Marilyn

( This last memory of TOP GUN would have been when SEE THE STARS, our company would have been running the theatre. Thanks to Marilyn for a fine memory - Alan )

TESTIMONIAL on MAGIC LANTERN. JANUARY 18 2006

Hi Alan,

The Magic Lantern arrived this morning all in good order. What a terrific show it is ! Even though I never visited the theatre your production has captured the wonderful atmosphere that only a holiday cinema has. I have many fond childhood and teenage memories of similar theatres - Budgewoi during the mid 1960's, The Tuncurry Lakes Theatre and the Harrington Theatre during the 1970's and onward. I always watched with great anticipation as new daybills were pasted on various poster boards around the camping ground.

Young people make me laugh today when they talk about the wonderful atmosphere of the new summertime outdoor shows as if they have experienced something we have not. It is funny how the good things in life keep getting"rediscovered"

Anyhow thankyou for taking the time to put "The Magic Lantern" together I have greatly appreciated it and I will certainly be recommending it to other cinema lovers.

Is that a youngish Barry Parsons from Associated Sound I spotted during the installation of the Kalees ? (Can't remember the name, but it was Associated Sound of Newcastle - Alan) Where did the plant go after the theatre closed? (I believe the gear is in the Bulli RSL, NSW - Alan) Once again thankyou.

Kind Regards, Gary Ford

Thanks to Gary for his very kind comments. It seems that MAGIC LANTERN triggers that memory of any theatre we went to in childhood, which was exactly the aim - Alan

MAY 2006

Hello Alan

I read with keen interest about your DVD on the Burrill lake theatre.

I grow up about 500 yards from the theatre and I started work there at the age of 14 in 1962. I worked there for 2 years and loved every minute of it. My memories of that old theatre hold a special place in my heart. My mother also worked there for a time selling tickets. I worked in the canteen and showing people to theirs seats after the lights went out.

I remember the bark walls that is was made out of, I also remember the family of possums that lived in the roof and wet on you if you were unlucky enough to be in the firing line. They would run up and down the backs of the seats ( that cut the circulations off in your legs) while you were watching the movie. There was also a kangaroo that came and visited us for sweets on many occasion. It was an advantage to get to the theatre early in the winter time so you could get close to the coal fires that they would burn to keep the patrons warm.

To the family's that lived there all the year round it was a meeting place for all the neighbors to catch up with one another and the people from the surrounding towns.

Thank you so much for letting me relive that part of my life that was such a happy carefree time for most of us that lived there then. I will be ordering a DVD

Regards & Best Wishes, Julie Anne Southwell nee Ashworth

Thanks to Julie for her memories. For those of us who were there at the same time, nothing more could be said - Alan

TESTIMONIAL MAY 2006 (another pleasent surprise)

Hello Alan

I received my DVD of the Burrill Lake theatre this morning and have just finished watching . I enjoyed it so very much.

It did bring back many memories for me and I remember when they took the bark walls down off the sides . My brother reminded how they built a fort down behind the Reily's house. They owned the theatre at the time. It was big enough that they could ride their bikes right inside of it. They had so much fun.

I also remember that the toilets were way out the back and it was very cold visiting them in the winter time.

Thank you so much for bringing back to me some memories of my childhood that had grown a bit dim over the years.I think my DVD will become a treasured possession.

Congratulations on a job well done.

Regards & Best Wishes, Julie Anne Southwell

AUGUST 2006

Hello Alan. You kindly invited anyone who had an interest in the theatre to email you so here I am. My name is Audrey Barton and we owned a house in Lakeview Drive for 20 years traveling down from Dural in Sydney about once a month and of course having all our Christmas Holidays there. My father knew George Dean and he (my father Len Watt) was a managing producer of a film company during the war (Argosy Productions) and had an association with George. We attended the movies there when we were on a holiday long before we bought a house, and when George welcomed everyone to the theatre by coming out on stage at the beginning of the night. He adored the theatre as it was really his baby. We had our house at Burrill from 1966 for 20 years and regretfully had to sell it because we moved to Queensland. We had 2 children and have wonderful memories of taking our blankets and pillows to the theatre with the kids and hearing the jaffas being rolled down the aisles, oh and the reel stopping at times and hearing boo, hiss until the movie started again.

Good luck with you story and interest in the dear old Burrill Theatre. Audrey

OCTOBER 2006

Thanks for a wonderful trip down memory lane. I loved going to the "fleas and itches" at Burrill each year. My family rented a fibro semi-detached cottage on McDonald Parade every January for over twenty years from 1956 to 1977.

We went to the pictures every 2nd night as there were 3 features a week. There was a group of about 23 of us who were holidaying in neighbouring shacks along McDonald Parade. We kids always booked our seats in a cottage up on the hill at the caravan park, Bungalow Park behind the theatre.I do remember that the owner was Mrs McDonald. She had grey wavy hair and often wore blue, the colour of her house. We used to joke about the blue lady in the blue house. She always took our bookings for N, O or P row as we would be undercover if it rained. We fibbed about our ages as the children's prices were for 12 and under. Every year, she said " I can't wait till you lot turn 13!' We were such regular customers , she wasn't game to knock us back. We spent plenty of money at the kiosk anyway so I am sure that she recouped her losses there. I can still hear the Coke bottles and the Jaffas being rolled right down the slope on the concrete! We always went armed with our pillows and walked over the bridge to the theatre. After the film, two cars would arrive and , somehow, all 23 of us were deposited home. While we were away, our parents held elaborate card nights around the kitchen tables of our shacks or went prawning without the kids on a moonless night.

I can remember when they built the new entrance at the back of the theatre. We had previously come in the bottom and walked up to the back of the theatre. When I tell people that I went to an open-air theatre with deck chairs as a child, they don't believe me. Now I have pictorial proof.

Thanks again for the memories. We could have been at the same sessions many years ago. It was such an innocent time of our lives. It's a shame that kids don't get to enjoy the same simple holidays that we adored year after year. I still keep in contact with my Burrill friends after all these years. We went to each other's 21sts - now it is 50ths!

Regards, Ros Ryan

Thanks Ros, for that little bit of history. The things you talk about are pretty much how it was for me, except we actually stayed in the cottages opposite the theatre till about 1961, then Dad bought a block of land up on Dolphin Pt and we've had a beach house there ever since.

There are people who live at Burrill Lake for years now, who never knew a theatre was there! I think the lady you refer to is actually Mrs Riley who she and her husband ran the theatre from the early 1950's through to the early 1970's. Then it was bought by someone else and eventually leased out.

The mention of the entry at the area near the screen was the most vivid image of my holidays down there and to me it lost a bit when the entry went up the back, something I mention in the movie I made on it. My seat was always E 10 as I still have a reserve ticket!!!!

Hopefully you'll catch up with the DVD I made on the theatre which literally walks you right through the place. How lucky I was to take that video.

Regards Alan

17 June 2007

Hi Alan,

I saw your doco "Magic Lantern" on cable last night and found it very enjoyable. Coincidently I had a friend visit me (on his 43rd b'day)just as the show started, and as we were chatting and watching the start, he reveled to me he was a projectionist in his early 20's in theatres around some country Victorian towns. This was a very enjoyable experience to have someone describe the smells, sounds and techniques used in projection rooms while watching your doco.

One thing we were both curious about was the snippet in your doco of the movie "Easily Riderless". Both my friend and myself have never heard or seen of this obviously poor but excellent Aussie movie! are you able to enlighten us to whom the creator, year, actors etc. were or any other info on this movie?

Mainly though, thank you for wonderful viewing and at least keeping some record of a depleting and sometimes lost part of Australian History.

well done!

Brendan Talay

31 MAY 2010

Now for another fond memory from Belinda:

We used to stay with the Sharpes across the road at Lake edge every Easter and Christmas. We would have started going there about the time you took control of the theatre until just before you stopped running it. My sister and I always looked forward to finding out what was on and used to go at every program change! I have to think hard about what we saw there but I remember seeing ET, Tequila Sunrise and Frightnight, I'm sure if I could find my old diaries there would be many, many more. Like many others we raided all the beds in the unit for pillows and blankets to make the seats more comfortable (and higher) and quickly learnt which seats were going to drop us near the floor! We nearly always had people with us either other holiday makers from the units or friends that had joined us from Sydney or who also stayed around the area. Being Teenagers (13-18) it gave us a place to go (and gave our parents a well deserved break!) and there has never been another place that I remember so fondly that was so full of enjoyment! It has no equal and no, "outsiders" just don't get it - but then again sitting in the open during a cold and wet Easter session seems a bit mad!! (- that's why blankets were invented!!)

I will send you an order soon for your DVD I can't wait to watch it on the TV with my two kids and husband and see what memories are bought back,

Thank you for the experience

Belinda
Campbelltown NSW

Thanks, Belinda, on adding to the unique experiences of the Burrill Lake Open Air Theatre.

......AND NOW TODAY'S TECHNOLOGY ALLOWS A LINK THROUGH TO THE VIDEO THAT IS ADDED BELOW....... HOW THINGS KEEP CHANGING!!


A NEW LIFE FOR THE THEATRE IN CYBERSPACE

...BUT THE

BURRILL LAKE OPEN AIR THEATRE

LIVES ON IN THESE HUB PAGES AND IN THE VIDEO DOCUMENTARY,

"MAGIC LANTERN"

THAT CAN BE DOWN LOADED FOR FREE FROM THE LINK.

THANKS TO ALL THE STAFF WHO WORKED AT THE THEATRE OVER THE YEARS, AND ESPECIALLY TO THOSE WHO WORKED FOR SEE THE STARS PTY LTD FROM 1985 TO 1990.

AND TO ALL THOSE GREAT MOVIES WITH THOSE ACTORS, ACTRESSES, DIRECTORS AND TECHNICIANS WHO NEVER KNEW OF THIS THEATRE, BUT WHO CAN REST ASSURRED THAT THEIR HARD WORK AND PERFORMANCES WHERE ENJOYED AND APPRECIATED BY THOSE WHO SAT IN THE DARK WATCHING ANOTHER WORLD UNFOLD IN FRONT OF THEIR EYES TO SEE THE BEST SHOW ON THIS OR ANY OTHER PLANET..


THE END


© 2008 Alan Bond

More by this Author


Comments 13 comments

alan2rich profile image

alan2rich 20 months ago from Australia Author

Thank you, Martin. Good memories. I'm glad I had the video to produce the film and to improve it over the years. Have the 10th Anniversary of the full 41mins of the film on Youtube now.


Martin 20 months ago

Really enjoyed this. I remember going to this theatre only once while on holidays at nearby Ulladulla in the January of 1965, I was 6 years of age. In the 1990's I used to take my young family on holidays to either Burrill Lakes or Ulladulla. At around the mid 90's I wondered what had become of the open air theatre (I could not remember where it was situated) and told my wife, son and daughter about it. I asked about it at a newsagent just past the bridge of Burrill Lakes and was directed just up from there. I could not believe it was still standing. Funny that each year up to it's demolishment my kids always asked to see it. Excellent & Thanks.


keith edwards 24 months ago

hi my names keith edwards i went there when i was a kid and helped put the concrete floor in (that was all done by wheelbarrow) and other repairs as well.the old kero heaters were great in winter it was a race 2 get the seats next 2 them .its a shame i didnt get 2 take my son and grand kids there.

we didnt roll jaffas down the isle we rolled aluminium cans they made more noise.

scary movies were great ,i would find a group of girls sitting together then sit 3 or 4 rows back when scary bits were comming up i would crawl down under the seats 2 the midle girls and grab their ankles as they were scared by the movie, and i would have enough time 2 get back 2 my seat before they all screamed and they never knew who did it.

thank you for the memories

yours

the koalabudgiebear


Colleen Boros 2 years ago

I have just come across your great show. I grew up in Ulladulla left there in 1972. My grandparents managed Bungalow Park back in the 50s. I have wonderful memories of going to the theatre throughout my teenage years. It was a meeting ground for everyone.


alan2rich profile image

alan2rich 4 years ago from Australia Author

You should be able to do a screen shot or desktop capture of that photo but unfortunately I don't have any photos of the house alone, though I'll have to check out your office as i thought the house was demolished!


Chris Welsh 4 years ago

Great site, I would love a copy of the top photo with the old house in the background as we now use it as our office at Kings Point industrial estate at South East Power Lines.

Many of our employees grew up here and remember well the old theatre.


Alan 6 years ago

Hi Toni,

I can't recall having a film like that in the period of when we ran the theatre which was between 1985 and 1990 (only into January). Someone else ran it in the other periods. I'm usually pretty good with films too, but can't recall even knowing one like that, though there have been several family type films, THE BEAR, THE WILDNESS FAMILY etc but sometimes they get called different things in Australia. If you can remember an actor in it, try using that in Google search. Cheers and thanks for the comments.


Toni 6 years ago

Hi!

This is wonderful. I also grew up going to Ulladulla every easter and school holidays throughout the 1980's and early 1990's for the Blessing of the fleet processions, etc.

We used to love to go the the Burrill Lake Open Air Theatre and there is a movie I am so trying to remember what it was called. I have been explaining it to my children now but haven't had any luck finding it online. It was about a family in America who lived or vacationed in the mountains and the dad was attacked by a bear but survived. A very touching but great family movie. Any ideas ???

Thanks

Toni - lookingforward@iprimus.com.au


Julie Anne Southwell 7 years ago

email address is Chooky1948@bigpond.com


Julie Southwell 7 years ago

tHis is a message for Brian Riley I am Anne Ashworth I would love to get in touch with you if you see this I tried your email but it comes back

Regards Julie Anne Southwell


Brian Riley 7 years ago

Alan, While doing research for a photography challenge,you can't believe how surprised I was to come across this site.I am the sole surviving member of the riley family,My Brother Ross died in 1985,Dad Harold in 1993, Mum Elsie 2001, I live with my wife Carol in Hervey Bay Queenland. If you went to the theatre in the late 50's I was the boy who sold sweets and drinks in the aisle.

Brian.

If you wish to contact me Email. hywindhouse@iprimus.com.au


alan2rich profile image

alan2rich 8 years ago from Australia Author

Hi Gwenda, Thanks for your comments which have now been added to the list. Yes, I remember the Riley family, the parents anyway. Hopefully in the near future I will have a further hubpages which will display a lot of the movies guides from the '60s. Thanks again.

Regards Alan


gwenda steel 8 years ago

I am so excited to have discovered the MAGIC LANTERN! Having grown up in Milton during the 40's-50's and reading the local paper online each week this is yet another link to my past. I have included hubpages into my favourites so that I can reflect on this wonderful history whenever I become nostalgic. The previous comments say it all for me. I only wish to add that I remember the Riley family as I was at school with Brian Riley. My only other comment is to say that imagine my surprise while visiting Broome last year I was able to once again experience the "outdoor picture show" experience again! It brought back warm, wonderful memories for me. Thanking you very much, Alan, for bringing these memories back to us all. Gwenda Steel.

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.


    Click to Rate This Article
    working