Location: Harvey Road, Lower Wonga
Capacity: 250 Cars
Operator: Gary King
From 2001……………………………………………….I know the question that most of you are going to ask, even Queenslanders…..where the hell is Wonga? The story goes like this. Whilst on one of our Queensland drive-in discovery tours many years ago, Matthew and I visited Gympie. If you know the old Scottish drive-in at Gympie, then you would also know that it is not the easiest place to find. Even though we had the street address of where it once operated, we had difficulty even locating the street! We called into the local tourist information centre and asked directions to Noosa rd. After being told how to find Noosa road the guide asked what we were looking for, the old drive-in theatre was our reply. The guide proceded to tell us that the only drive-in he knew of was some way out of town and that it was still open!
Not knowing how serious to take the guides advice (my research had showed only one drive-in in the Gympie area) we found the Scottish drive-in, located behind houses with only a driveway through them to the ticket box. After photographing the Scottish (still in tact, see photos) Matthew and I discussed what the guide had said. Bull%#$@ said Math, there is no way anyone would build a drive-in out in the middle of nowhere and then expect people to visit it. From the instructions given, it was about 30 – 40 kms out of Gympie. I finally convinced Matthew that we should at least take a look.
Well we drove on until we recognised the road to nowhere type back road and turned down it. After about 10 mins, with Math almost having me convinced to turn around, we came across a farmer on a tractor. Feeling very stupid as I leaned out the window, I asked him if he had ever heard of a drive-in theatre in these parts, without batting an eyelid he said ” follow this road until you see the sign”. As directed after another few k’s we saw a sign pointing down a dirt road “Drive-in Theatre”. Both amazed we followed the dirt road for some distance still unsure of what we would find. Then all of a sudden we saw a drive-in theatre screen, they are hard to miss anywhere, appearing over the hill. We had found the Wonga drive-in theatre!
If you are anywhere near this part of the world you MUST go to this drive-in. Gary King has done what many have dreamt of doing by building a drive-in in his backyard. Don’t get visions of a primitive hobby job, this place puts many operating drive-ins in other parts of the country to shame with its professional fit-out and operation. Gary has since added a second screen in 2004. It is larger and utilizes the former screen from the old Gatton drive-in. The drive-in is one of the best places in QLD to see a movie, so make sure you visit the Wonga soon.
Wonga eventually expanded into a three screen drive-in before Gary King sold the location. Another operator attempted to run it, but ill health and other circumstances eventually saw it close. It was a very impressive drive-in and is sadly missed by locals.