Saturday, July 5, 2008

Ye Olde picture theatre

This is Sun Picture Gardens in Chinatown. It was built in 1916 and is the World Record holder for being the oldest operating picture gardens/open air cinema.

It is probably the only cinema in the world that people had to wade out of at high tide. Before a levee bank was built in 1974, Chinatown (including Sun Pictures) would flood during king tides. I've read that people used to fish off the back steps of the shops.

<--Sun Pictures at high tide. (picture from

The theatre is a "three-sided timber framed structure, clad with corrugated iron and with a high, twin-peaked roof. The fourth side of the building is completely open to the movie-screen and the elements", according to the Heritage Register.

As mentioned in an earlier post, seating was segregated until 1967, with the Aboriginal people right at the back, the Asian and coloured or mixed-race people on the left, and the 'Europeans' on the right. They also entered through separate doors.