Walkerville Outdoor Theatre

Picture courtesy of SA State Library
Outdoor Picture Theatre [B 50194] • Photograph

W. Lesley Boyle set up an outdoor screen for those warmer nights in Adelaide as an extension to the theatre that he ran at Walkerville Town Hall. The outdoor theatre ran from 1929 until 1936(SLSA/ Walkerville collection). Although as earlier as 1921 Boyle had been submitting applications for an outdoor cinema, The Register, Adelaide dated 10th September, 1921 notes that there had been an application submitted to the council that had been rejected (The Register, 10 September, 1921, p. 94). Wooden planks made up the seating and a pianist was also in attendance, situated at the base of the screen(SLSA/ Walkerville collection). The building you can see is the old Police Station – since demolished.

The Register, 10 September, 1921, p. 94)


“District Councils” The Register, Adelaide, 10 September 1921, p. 94. Retrieved 2 February 2020 from Trove

“Outdoor Picture Theatre” viewed 2 February 2020 https://collections.slsa.sa.gov.au/resource/B+50194

SLSA Walkerville Collection, viewed 2 February 2020 https://collections.slsa.sa.gov.au/find/walkerville

Semaphore Wondergraph

Just around the corner from Semaphore Road, next to the Customs House on the Esplanade at Semaphore stood the Wondergraph Open Air Picturedrome. This open air picture theatre could seat up to 1000 patrons(Walker 1995, p. 36).

The Advertiser (Adelaide) 8th October 1910.
Courtesy of Trove

Semaphore Wondergraph c 1930
Image courtesy of the State Library of South Australia

Opening in 1910 (Walker 1995, p. 80) it would show the very best of films such as The Test of Honor starring Mr John Barrymore (Semaphore Wondergraph, The Advertiser(Adelaide), 1 November, 1919, p. 12). In September 1920 Daniel Clifford purchased the suburban circuit of Wondergraph, which included the Semaphore Wondergraph for a sum of £15,000(Thiele & Lang 1991, p. 52) and a more permanent structure would be built on Semaphore Road.

The Advertiser (Adelaide) 1 November 1919
Courtesy of Trove
Semaphore Jetty C 1940, you can see the Semaphore Wondergraph in the background
Image courtesy of State Library of South Australia


Thiele ,John & Lange, Ross 1991, Thanks for the memory; 1991 TOSA (SA) celebrates, Gillingham Press, Adelaide, South Australia.

Walker, Dylan 1995, Adelaide’s silent nights: A pictorial history of Adelaide’s picture theatres during the silent era 1896-1929,  National Film and Sound Archive

Star Pictures – Mount Gambier

On the 17th May 1911 in the Old Institute building located on Commercial Street,Star Pictures Mt Gambier opened. Operated by A Rook, the re-modelled interior featured dull red fabric to cover the proscenium and the sides of the screen, which was a white sheet of fabric (‘Star Pictures’ 1911, p. 2) Rook had also installed electric light and there was an orchestra pit with especially chosen lamps for use of the orchestra so as not to distract the audience (IMDB p2) from the movies themselves.

Border Watch, Mount Gambier 17th May 1911 (image courtesy of Trove)
Border Watch, Mount Gambier, 17th May 1911 (Image courtesy of Trove)
Interior, Star Theatre Mount Gambier, c 1920 (Image courtesy of SLSA)

I can’t quite see this giveaway attracting the younger audiences of today, but Star Pictures must have felt that a free ruler for the upcoming school year would be enough to entice them to the pictures (Border Watch 1911, p. 3).

Border Watch, Mount Gambier 20th Jan 1925 (Image courtesy of Trove)

Star theatre re-opening night. c 1925 (Image courtesy of SLSA)

Here is how the building exterior looks today.

Image courtesy of Google Maps https://goo.gl/maps/pMwsCiB2WLQgmzKZ6


‘Free Rules for Children’ The Border Watch, 20 January, 1925, p. 3. Retrieved 15th September, 2019 from Trove

Google Maps https://goo.gl/maps/pMwsCiB2WLQgmzKZ6

‘Star Pictures’ The Border Watch, 17 May 1911, p. 2. Retrieved 15th September, 2019 from Trove

Star Theatre Exterior, viewed 15th September 2019 https://collections.slsa.sa.gov.au/resource/B+15185

Star Theatre Interior c 1920, viewed 15th September 2019https://collections.slsa.sa.gov.au/resource/B+15203

Star Theatre Interior c 1925, viewed 15th Septemberhttps://collections.slsa.sa.gov.au/resource/B+15202

‘Tonight, tonight; Star Pictures’ The Border Watch, advertisement, 17 May 1911, p. 3. Retrieved 15th September, 2019 from Trove.

Star Theatre, Goodwood

Now called the Capri Theatre and still thankfully very much running as a picture theatre. Today it is run as an independent not-for-profit theatre which is larger staffed by volunteers. ( https://capri.org.au/about/ )

The Star Theatre was built in a Art Moderne style. Its opening night was in October 1941. Today it houses the second largest WurliTzer’  organ in the Southern Hemisphere ( https://capri.org.au/about/ )

Interior of the Star Theatre in Goodwood, Adelaide 1941
Exterior – Star Theatre, 1954


Capri Theatre 2019, About, viewed 18th July 2019, https://capri.org.au/about/

Photo of Star Theatre Goodwood, viewed 18th July 2019, https://collections.slsa.sa.gov.au/resource/B+40916

Photo of Star Theatre, Goodwood viewed 18th July 2019, https://collections.slsa.sa.gov.au/resource/B+40919

West’s Country Drive

I found this image on Trove along with the information that this is thought to be the delivery of film in 1909 to one of West’s cinemas that had opened in country South Australia, this one in Moonta on the Yorke Peninsula. This expansion follows on from the opening of the first permanent picture theatre in South Australia the previous year by the West Picture Company. It goes on to explain that due to a delay in supply of an electric plant to the township of Moonta, the opening of the cinema was delayed, missing its October 29th, 1909 date. Other West’s picture theatres, in Kadina and Wallaroo were not affected as they had their own electricity supply. This is thought to be TJ West in the photo and not JN Ellery ( Carrier’s Cart n.d)


Photo of Carrier’s Cart, Moonta viewed 5th July, 2019. Carrier’s Cart, ( https://collections.slsa.sa.gov.au/resource/B+45888 )

West’s Olympia Theatre – Hindley Street

On the 5th December, 1908 Adelaide’s first permanent Picture Theatre opened in Hindley Street (Walker 1995, p. 15). Owned by T J West, West’s Olympia fulfilled a growing need for cinema entertainment in Adelaide (p. 15), Adelaide was the last of the capital cities in Australia to open a permanent picture theatre (p. 17). And, the patrons were not be disappointed, on the 7th December 1908 The Advertiser in Adelaide reported the renovations that had taken place to turn the old skating rink into a Picture Theatre had been successful, with good seating and although it was warm outside the hall remained cool and airy(Amusements, 7 December, 1908, p. 10) the screen was 30 feet long by 22 feet wide and 2,248 seats were available for patrons. (Walker 1995 p. 17)


AMUSEMENTS. (1908, December 7). The Advertiser (Adelaide, SA : 1889 – 1931), p. 10. Retrieved June 8, 2019, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article5150315

NFSA – Title Details. (2009, November, 12).Archive retrieved 8th June 2019 from original source

Retrieved 12 Nov 2009 14:08:54, from https://webarchive.nla.gov.au/awa/20091112030854/http://colsearch.nfsa.gov.au/nfsa/search/display/display.w3p;adv=;group=;groupequals=;holdingType=;page=0;parentid=;query=Id:359590;querytype=;rec=0;resCount=10

Walker, Dylan 1995, Adelaide’s silent nights: A pictorial history of Adelaide’s picture theatres during the silent era 1896-1929,  National Film and Sound Archive

“West’s Theatre,” Adelaide City Explorer, accessed June 8, 2019, https://adelaidecityexplorer.com.au/items/show/39.

Programme- West’s Olympia Theatre June 4, 1917

West’s Olympia Theatre was located in Hindley Street it was owned by T J West and in 1917 it was located in the old Galciarium building, it was Adelaide’s first permanent Picture Theatre. (Walker 1995. p.8). It was demolished in 1939 to make way for the building a more modern theatre.

This is a program from June 4th 1917, showing what you could see at The Olympia, but also with a list of coming attractions.


Walker, Dylan 1995, Adelaide’s silent nights: A pictorial history of Adelaide’s picture theatres during the silent era 1896-1929,  National Film and Sound Archive