Community & Business

26 March, 2022

Drive-In back to the future

LOCALS are backing up their old ute in front of the giant screen at sunset, with the iconic Mareeba Drive-In being restored to its “former glory” as a foursome of locals take over the business.

By Ellie Fink

Mareeba Drive new owners Jason Donnelly, Ann-Marie Donnelly, Josephine Doger de Speville and Craig Torrisi.
Mareeba Drive new owners Jason Donnelly, Ann-Marie Donnelly, Josephine Doger de Speville and Craig Torrisi.

The new team, Ann-Marie Donnelly, Craig Torrisi, Josephine Doger de Speville and Jason Donnelly, took on the challenge of reinvigorating the drive-in to bring back a laid-back 70s feeling. 

The group began their journey as the new owners less than a month ago, with main owner and operator Mrs Donnelly inheriting the land from her father and purchasing the business from previous owner Raelene Newell. 

Being one of very few authentic drive-in cinemas left in the country, the home of first dates and family fun will undergo many changes over the next few months, with Mrs Donnelly excited to announce some big upgrades. 

“We took the opportunity and are trying to turn it into something great for the community – we all run businesses ourselves and we are all passionate about keeping this drive-in alive,” she said. 

“We want to introduce Sunday nights and just show a kid-friendly film and then we are hoping to fix the place up and start holding events. 

“We already have a car group that want to come in and host some car meets and watch a car-related movie afterwards, so we are really open to the community.” 

As well as hosting events, the team has began renewing every corner of the venue – a process that they say will be slow and steady, but will add so much to the venue. 

So far, the café has been reinvigorated, with a brand-new menu and a makeover to the building it is housed in, which gained a lot of attention on social media. 

“We are also doing a massive repair on the screen – the whole thing is getting completely redone sometime in the future,” Mrs Donnelly said. 

“We had all our speakers go under renovation so they don’t cut out as much, but people can still use modern technology to connect with their car radio and Bluetooth. 

“We are also reintroducing the kid’s playground, which is being repaired and worked on to entertain the younger kids when they’re here.” 

The brother-sister-husband-wife crew have had their first two showings already, where they expressed their gratefulness to the community for showing up and understanding they are still “on their L plates”. 

Ms Donnelly especially thanked everyone who supported the café, the main asset to the drive-in that keeps it going strong. 

“We have tried to keep the prices low, and the majority of our food is homemade in-house so it’s nice and fresh,” she said. 

There is a little something for everyone, with all four owners encouraging anyone from as close as Mareeba to as far as Cairns to pack up their car and enjoy a night under the stars. 

A variety of movies will be showing, with a family friendly movie usually starting the night and a “more rom-com adult movie” following not long afterwards. 

Camping is available for the night for anyone who wishes to stay and enjoy a show of stars afterwards. 

For information on movies being shown and for more information, visit The Mareeba Drive- In Facebook page.


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