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North Eastern Tour

          By Gerry Kennedy

          The CATHS two-day North Eastern  Tour commenced at
          Healesville on Saturday 31st March and after several hundred
          kilometres concluded at Euroa on the Sunday.
             Forty members and partners travelled in a convoy of cars
          over the two days. Apart from the spectacular scenery enjoyed
          in sunny autumn weather there was a good deal of camaraderie
          experienced. The social highlight was the group dinner at the
          very smart Mansfield Hotel with ad hoc entertainment provided  Alexandra Cinema.
          by our very own ‘resident’ accomplished pianists, Kevin Adams
          and treasurer Barrie Wraith. Members were both surprised and  in the cinema after the aforementioned dinner and entertainment!
          delighted to hear these two very professional musicians perform  After a much needed sleep it was off to the tiny hamlet of
          in a pub setting.                                   Swanpool where the 1957 Memorial Hall is transformed each
             Over the weekend a number of very interesting halls and cine-  weekend into the 50s style Swanpool Cinema. With a mix of
          mas were inspected, a few still operating, but most sadly not.  second-hand equipment and seating from closed theatres it was
             The first stop for the early risers was at the two level  really a trip down ‘memory lane’ for everyone.
          Healesville Cinema. Located in the 1923 Healesville Memorial  A further twenty minute drive along the Midland Highway
                                                              brought us to Benalla where a number of cinema venues have
                                                              operated over the years.  These include the RSL Pictures; an
                                                              open-air show; the Starlit Drive-In Theatre, the purpose built
                                                              Regal Theatre and the historic Benalla Town Hall.
                                                                 The Regal is now a retail outlet, the RSL Pictures became
                                                              the community Library; a house now stands on the drive-in site,
                                                              and the open-air (behind the Regal) is a dusty car-park.
                                                                 We were able to have a good inspection of the Benalla Town
                                                              Hall which is now used only for live theatre and dances etc.
                                                              although the bio-box still survives in its unusual location against
                                                              the side wall at the rear of the balcony. The auditorium, strange-
                                                              ly high, long and narrow, is quite pretty and features decorative
                                                              ironwork supporting the curved ceiling, and classical plaster
                                                                 After lunch, it was back down the Hume Highway to the last
                                                              stop of the tour — the Euroa Civic Theatre. Built in 1938 as a
            Healesville Cinema.
                                                              multi-purpose hall/cinema, it originally featured both stalls and
                                                              dress-circle foyers, both of which have now been converted to
          Hall, the cinema features a wonderful polished wood ticket box  office and storage space for the local council. Although plas-
          in the entrance vestibule, and currently seats around 300 in the  tered over, the bio box remains, sadly, unused for many years.
          flat-floored stalls and another 50 or so in the small balcony.  Like the exterior, the hall itself is in a very simple art-deco mod-
             Being a multi-purpose hall, the cinema screen is on a motor-  erne style and features little ornamentation except circular opa-
          ized roller for easy storage when the stage is required. Member  line lights and smooth surfaces broken by streamlined plaster
          Brian Luscombe has operated the cinema since the 1980s and  bands. Entry is now via the side of the building as a new annexe
          has a long career in the industry which began in 1956 at the
          Geelong Theatre (now Village 11).
              Next stop was Alexandra, although en route, a couple of
          intrepid enthusiasts sped off for a quick, unplanned inspection of
          the Eildon Theatre (closed 1973).
             Dating back to 1881, the beautiful Alexandra Shire Hall
          features a classical Portico of Tuscan Doric design. The single
          level auditorium seats 200 and is a very comfortable and relax-
          ing space in which to enjoy a film. Sadly due to escalating trad-
          ing losses and the failing health of the operator, Mrs Stella
          Webster and family, the local Band committee (who own the
          equipment) have officially closed the cinema component of the
          venue. The final screening took place last September with the
          movie The Patriot.
             Then it was back into the cars for the dash to lovely
          Mansfield, where we toured the fascinating  Mansfield  Swanpool Cinema.
          Cinema, which opened in the late 30s as The Regent and later
          traded for many years as The Star. Of single level, with raked
          ‘lounge’, and of wood and fibro construction, this is a real old-  has been constructed at the front to provide larger space for the
          time cinema which continues to be popular with the locals.  council offices.
             Located in a nearby street is the even older RSL Pictures  All in all, a very enjoyable weekend was had by everyone,
          which despite remodeling into a Lodge, still retains many cine-  and our thanks go to our gracious hosts in each town and to tour
          matic features including the projection ports, steps to the bio,  organizer Brian Miller. Assistance from Eddie Revell and Don
          bricked-in proscenium and a magnificent decorative wooden  Flowers is also greatly appreciated. ★
          ceiling. Our thanks to Melinda and Brendan Grant, and Eddie  • Photos and additional information by Kevin Adams.
          Revell for their hospitality — and for an unplanned ‘late show’

                                                                               CINEMARECORD Autumn 2001      7
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