1854 – First building on the site – a wooden  structure with canvas walls and roof.  Eucalyptus branches strapped to upright poles  for decoration.  Theatre burnt down after 6 months trading. 

1855 – Theatre re-built (current structure) and begins hosting major national and international touring artists including Lola Montez – the “darling of the diggers.” 

1887 – Theatre is gutted by fire – original stone walls and tin ceiling remain 

1888 – Theatre re-opens and is considered major regional entertainment venue hosting plays, orchestras and variety entertainment. 

 Theatre Royal 1888

Theatre Royal 1888


1901 – A hotel (including accommodation) is constructed in front of the Theatre, the two structures on the same title and joined by a large and impressive foyer. 

1919 – The Royal expands its entertainment offering to include moving pictures (silent) and becomes one of the first “picture palaces” in Australia. 


1938 – The Royal Hotel is demolished and the Theatre interior and façade is designed in traditional art-deco style.  Projectors are sound-enabled and the venue capacity is increased to 800 patrons. 

1945 – By the end of WWII Theatre Royal is playing movies to more than 4500 people every week. 

1975 – A wall is inserted into the balcony to halve the capacity of the dress circle and lounge – the impact of colour television begins to take its toll. 

1980 – The venue revisits live entertainment and hosts many successful shows by local, national and international acts. 

1985 – The venue continues to show movies  (albeit infrequently) and opens every weekend with a 3am license as “The Pit” Nightclub. 

1998 – “The Pit” closes

1999 – The Theatre Royal reopens as a family-orientated cinema and occasional live venue with new owners and a refurbishment 


2004 – Theatre Royal purchased by David Stretch and Sarah Burdekin, with  partners Julian and Renee Champion de Crespigny. 

2004 - 2012 The Theatre Royal becomes one of the country's leading regional music venues with both National and International acts performing here during this time

2012 - Theatre Royal business purchased by Chewton Arts Pty Ltd

2016 - Theatre Royal business purchased by Tim Heath, Andrea Distefano, Felicity Cripps, Jono Hill & Campbell Hynam-Smith