Bass Hill Skyline
Location: Johnson Rd
Capacity: 724 Cars
Screens: One, later two
Operator: Consolidated Drive-in theatres
Closed: 2007, Demolished Oct 2008
Well the oldest drive-in in NSW is now gone. A once beautiful drive-in is now a development site. If you are sad about this, then visit Blacktown soon or it will go the same way. Greater Union have made it clear, all of their cinema locations need to pay their way or they will become extinct. Blacktown is still criminally hidden from view so GU can certainly publicise the location a whole lot better. Who knows they may even reap some large profits like Village did when they pushed Coburg along a few years ago. What follows was written around 10 years ago.......... NEWSFLASH: Two operating drive-in theatres were today found in the suburbs of Sydney. Long thought to have been extinct by most of the population, two very healthy examples were found located in Bass Hill and Blacktown. Like the Village Coburg Triple drive-in located in Melbourne, the two drive-ins in Sydney are among the cities best kept secrets to the internet generation. If you are over 30, then you grew up driving past monster screens with giant images every time you came home from grandmas house. If you were lucky, a few visits a year were planned during school holidays when you piled into the back seat of the Valiant or Volkswagon in your pyjamas.
How it should be, under the southern stars, back seat of the Valiant with someone you want to share a scary movie with.
Bass Hill is Australia's oldest continually operating drive-in theatre. It is maintained in such pristine condition by Greater Union it's almost like a new retro construction rather than a venue that is over 40 years old. The lawns, asphalt, speakers and posts are all immaculate and it seems the place is painted almost monthly. The hamburgers made and sold here (and its sister at Blacktown) beat most I have sampled in the world and I'm not just talking drive-ins. These burgers are up with Fatburger on Sunset Blvd, Hollywood and Soda Rock in Chapel St. Melbourne. The staff are friendly and have enough drive-in experiences to spin more than a few amusing tales.
The ticket box and new screen added in the mid 1980's. Not a lot of Hollywood about the decoration at GU drive-ins.
Sydney, it's time you stopped taking the existance of this venue for granted and visit it for a pleasant alternative to an indoor theatre. Outdoor cinemas were among the first in the country to show flickering images on a screen, today a century later you can still do this, but in the comfort of your Magna or Falcon XR8.
The new projection room sits atop the old one that is now an office. This new booth was added when Bass Hill was twinned. Aerials on top are for FM transmission.
Bass Hill offers sound via speakers, AM Cine-Fi and FM stereo. Projection is with Cinemeccanica Victoria 8, Xebex lamphouses and Cinemeccanica platters. I can't understand why no sign tells of its existance to travellers along one of Australias busiest roads, the Hume Hwy, that runs right alongside it. GU are shy about advertising or they have one nasty council to tens with.
Just as well this 43 year old screen leans in towards the drive-in and away from the houses! In certain conditions it could turn into a house swatter!
Have a look at What's showing at Bass Hill drive-in.
This is the place that Buddy likes to sit and eat famous Bass Hill hamburgers, sip on a Coke and watch a film when he is in Sydney.
NTS speakers still mount the junction boxes at Bass Hill and the miniature down lights illuminate the posts at every car space.
This indoor eating area has a view of the screen.
Buddy's hamburger rating 9/10. Photos by Buddy and Matthew June 1999.