Maribyrnong Sunset/Hoyts

Opened: 1955
Location: Rosamond Road, Maribyrnong
Capacity: 940 (original)
Screens: One, later two.
Operator: Big 6/Hoyts
Closed: 1990

Brief history:
Good old Maribyrnong (try pronouncing that if you're not from Victoria). This is the first drive-in I worked at. At the time I thought hell, nightshift forever, I had been used to city theatres with alternating day and night weeks. I soon settled in and was very comfortable in the original field at Maribyrnong.

It was built by the former Hoyts head engineer Mick Bramley and a group of businesmen. They later built Calder raceway and it was during this time, around 1963, that it was bought by Silman, Sharpe and Selleck. Alex Sharpe has stated that it performed very well in those days and inspired them to buy land at Coburg where they built the drive-in on Newlands Road. The original buildings were remodelled when Hoyts bought it and Coburg in 1967. It was twinned around 1982 using the former projectors (Philips DP70's, Norelco AA11's) from the closed Altona drive-in. The new projection booth was later referred to as Bunratty Castle as its appearance was that of a small castle. The original snack bar and projection room was retained - it contained Cinemeccanica Victoria 8 projectors.

I have fond memories of nights at the Sunset including a night when fog came in so thick I nearly lost my car and it was parked outside the projection room. On another occasion, I was watching a film with my girlfriend in my car and instead of a reel changeover, the picture continued with the sound of the projectors in the background "what have you done ____, stuffed if I know, the *&%$ sound is gone" - the projectionist has selected the microphone button instead of film and every car in the field could hear the goings on until the projectionist and assistance realised the error. Maribrnong had another claim to fame as a Melbourne tram line ran almost under the screen - no, not a kiddie ride, a public transport route!

Eric the projectionist decides that he has had enough of the Philips DP70 projectors and is hacking away at them so the new Cinemeccanica Victora 8's have somewhere to go! The Philips were from Altona drive-in and ended up here in the Maribyronong Field One projection room (AKA Bunratty Castle). Hoyts sold off this plant to the Charlton theatre where they still reside. Eric White/David Johnson photo 1985

Hoyts opened the Highpoint multiplex across the road in 1989 and the two sites traded successfully together. It was only a mater of time before the land grab cash became too good, today a homemaker centre (you know 2nd rate pine furniture, fake wood wall units and 12 months interest free stereos) occupys the site.

As a single screen location it was a large drive-in. Highpoint Shopping Centre can be seen in the background. Eric White/David Johnson photo

Here is a shot of the drive-in after it was twinned, some capacity was lost but the drive-in certainly used almost all of the available land. The Triumph Dolomite and Ford Laser belong to the projectionists credited with this photo. Today the homemaker centre sits on the site. Eric White/David Johnson photo


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