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BENDIGO & DISTRICTS TOUR                                               By  Brian Miller

             Our annual  country jaunt was  held  on Saturday  1st and   policy of alternating films with live-show events. We wish
             Sunday 2nd April, 2000 with a record attendance including   them every success for the future and it is pleasing to report
             a number of first timers. In fact, two motels had to be used.   their ice-cream counter was enthusiastically patronised by
             Damp drizzle greeted us around Daylesford until lunchtime   our members.
             after which  perfect  weather prevailed.  The  former  Rex
             Theatre houses Daylesford's Spa Centre Variety Store at 49
             Vincent Street.  Opened in  1929 to replace the Alpha Hall,
             the  original  Spanish decor is  mostly  intact.  despite  the
             ravages of times.  We  were unable to  visit the Alpha  Hall
             and Galleria, used until recently as a dinner venue combined
             with 16mm screenings or nostalgia films. Mr. Dave Endicott
             of the Daylesford and  District Historical Society escorted
             us  to  their  museum  for  an  interesting  talk on  the  town's
             colourful  past.

                                                                          Theatre Royal - Castlemaine

                                                               An unofficial  visit was offered to the Royal Theatre Cafe
                                                               and Gallery in High Street, Maldon.  This delightful  little
                                                               hall  has  been  fully  restored, including a beautiful ceiling
                                                               and small stage. Dating from the  1860's when hotels could
                                                               have an entertainment venue attached. it is believed to have
                                                               survived dances, church services,  music hall,  a  Masonic
                                                               Lodge and pictures  until  the  1960's. The projection room
                                                               can be seen  from  the opposite side of the street, built out
                          Rex Theatre - Daylesford             over the front  verandah with access by ladder, apparently.
                                                               The operator must have been hardy, juggling the nitrate films
             Continuing on to the Daytesford Town Hall, now part of the   up  the ladder on a  hot night! Our keen shoppers reported
             Hepburn  Shire Council, this  building  is a  true  Victorian-  that the quality of the antiques stocked was excellent.
             style auditorium dating from  I 883 and little altered. Due to
             the slope of land, street entry is at balcony level with stairs   The Eaglehawk Town Hall or Star Cinema as it is now known
             down to the ground floor.  A U-shaped balcony is fiued with   was built in  190 I and has returned to films after a break of
             an early type of seating long rows of padded benches with   almost  fifty  years.  A  solid,  substantial  building,  it was
             no dividing armrests in the middle, just a number indicating   recently  been  re-decorated  and  operates  under  the
             your allotted space.  The very last is number 250 in the top   management of Joan Rodger and Tony Salter. Programming
             left-hand comer.  Too bad  if several  heavyweights arrive   is a mixture of art films and popular attractions and there is
             before you can claim your section! A small projection booth   an optional meal arrangement. A single Chinese-manufac-
             has been built omo the balcony,  suitable for one machine   tured projector.  platters and a conventional  sound system
             and  a  diminutive  operator, j udging  by  the  outside   made  the  bio-box  tour of particular interest.  '·Gone With
             dimensions. The venue  was  used  for  silent  films  but  no   The Wind .. was being shown at 7.00pm and when we saw
             evidence remains of where more substan6al equipment was   the lavishly comfortable couches provided in  the stalls. it
             located.                                          would have been tempting to stay. Again our best wishes to
                                                               Joan and Tony for their enterprise.
             An early afternoon an·ival brought us to the Theatre Royal,
             Castlemaine where proprietors John and Donna Walter had   After checking in to rhe Oval Motel and the nearby Barclay
             graciously deleted a  matinee screening to aUow  us to  see   on View Motel, we set out for the Bendigo and District R.S.L.
             this historic building and let a team of helpers prepare for a   Services Club on the north side of the city. Bendigo's street
             major cabaret event that evening. Mr. &  Mrs. Walter took   signs are not all that easy to identify by day and even harder
             over the Royal in  July,  1999 rather than let it remain idle.   by night, but eventually we all arrived safely. After a bit of
             The building dates from  1857, one of the oldest surviving   table juggling (36 at one table is not really practical!) and a
             theau·es  on  the mainland.  It was  remodeled  in  1938  in  a   long  pause between  the soup and the main course due to
             basic Art-deco design and although the Walters did not have   another big group in the  next room, a delicious meal was
             a  show-business  background,  have expended  all  their   served.
             energies  in  essential  repairs, on-going maintenance and a   A return to the Oval Motel saw the presentation of an hour

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