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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 venue hosting plays, orchestras and variety entertainment. 

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 and 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 - 2014 - The Theatre Royal becomes one of the country's leading regional music venues with both National and International acts performing here during this time.

2014 - 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.


Photograph by Brendan McCarthy, 2019.

Photograph by Brendan McCarthy, 2019.


Together with films and shows, we have an espresso & wine bar, featuring European-inspired food, coffee and wine, whilst celebrating much of our local produce.

Many thanks to all who have helped us so far on our mission to bring the theatre back to her former glory. It has been an exciting and challenging journey - we couldn't do it without you!

See you soon,

Felicity & Tim x