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13 July, 2020

Drive-in set to reopen after COVID closure

One of the tablelands more unique attractions is set to reopen its doors this weekend.

By Phil Brandel

One of the tablelands more unique attractions is set to reopen its doors this weekend.

The Mareeba drive-in has been at the current site since 1960 and since March of this year it has been in COVID lockdown something that owner and manager Raelene Newell says has been hard.

“We closed the last weekend of March and while it has been tough we’ve had a bit of help from the government with Job keeper," she said

“I’ve been lucky as I’ve had a very generous and understanding landlord and the electricity rebate has helped."

Raelene says that even though patrons could remain in their car and practice social distancing the cap on numbers and the closure of her café meant she had to close the business.

“We had to close because of restrictions on numbers and we weren’t allowed to open the café, just trying to operate on gate takings wouldn’t be enough to cover my costs so we would have gone backwards,“ she said

“It’s been nice to have a break and get some maintenance done, but we are looking forward to having customers back,

“We have had a huge response on social media from people wanting to know when we are reopening, so I’m hoping when we do reopen we will get a lot of people supporting us.”

This weekend’s double feature is the animated film Spies in Disguise and Star Wars - The Rise of Skywalker. “We can’t show any new release movies because there haven’t been any; the movies companies aren’t releasing anything at the moment,” Raelene said

While an American invention, drive-in theatres became popular in Australia in the 50's and 60’s.

The first drive-in theatre opened in Australia in 1954 and at one point; there were over 300 drive-ins throughout Australia.  At one stage Australia had the third-highest number of drive-ins behind only the United States and Canada.  Most have now closed and there are only 16 drive-in’s still operating in Australia.



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