DRIVE-INs have fast become back in fashion in Melbourne as a way for crowds to safely watch AFL and now music festivals in these pandemic times.
Ballarat's drive-ins are long gone. Skyline off Norman Street in Wendouree and Village Southern off the Glenelg Highway in Sebastopol were both razed to make way for housing developments.
All that remains in Wendouree are streets on the site named after film greats: Bogart Drive, Redford Drive, Spielberg Court and Newman Court.
As the Anderson family, which used to own the drive-ins, prepares to bring movies back to Regent Cinemas, there is still a lot of nostalgia for the city's old drive-ins and what might have been right now for a night at the movies.
Even in the age of family cars kit out with DVD players for passengers.
Ranch night was Wednesday nights at Skyline with cowboy films on screens.
Movie-goers also told The Courier of jumping fences and clawing through prickle bushes to watch movies from benches nearby or smuggling in extra friends and family via the car boot or under blankets on the car floor.
Patrick McCabe said as a child, every time he saw a screen from his car window, he dreamed of living near a drive-in.
His mum bought a house on Skyline's western side when he was in his mid-20s in 1981. Mr McCabe said he might have "missed the boat a bit" but it was still a great experience.
The cars all had their engines running to keep warm...It was probably an expensive night out in the endPatrick McCabe
"I remember climbing over the fence with friends one night and the fence was really icy," Mr McCabe said.
"The cars all had their engines running to keep warm and they'd have their wipers on to see in the rain. It was probably an expensive night out in the end to keep the car going.
"The other thing I remember is walking over to the food bar where there were hot dogs and dim sims - all overpriced."
Mr McCabe's mother had bought the Eton Street house from popular Ballarat radio presenter Peter Caligari and his wife Ola.
The Caligaris also owned an adjoining block that was often invaded by movie-goers parking their cars to watch for free or scaling the back fence to sneak inside.
"You looked out our family room window straight at the screen," Mr Caligari said. "The trees along the fence were very, very short at that stage so you could see the whole thing - only you couldn't hear the sounds. We got a lot of silent movies."
You could see the whole thing - only you couldn't hear the sounds. We got a lot of silent movies.Peter Caligari
Although, others from the neighbourhood told The Courier of jumping the back fence to turn the speakers up so they could hear the movie.
Mr Caligari said sound technology had greatly advanced since the old speakers on stalks you would have to jam through your window.
"Nowadays, there are ways you could broadcast it and get people to tune in," Mr Caligari said. "That would save people on wet nights from having the window down that inch or so and getting rained on."
The Courier understands Skyline was opened in 1954 and closed in 1984 showing Flashdance and An Officer and a Gentleman, according to cinematreasures.org. The Southern Drive-in opened in December 1961 and closed in June 1991 showing Home Alone, Sleeping with the Enemy, Edwards Scissorhands and Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.
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