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Mareeba Drive-In Theatre

Home > Cairns > Cinema | Family | Nightlife | Outdoor
by Kate Galea (subscribe)
A full time traveller Kate and her partner have called a Toyota Coaster home since December 2016. They are currently touring Australia making memories and lapping up everything this amazing country has to offer. Visit
Published June 9th 2018
A classic night at the Drive-In
I've wanted to go to a drive-in movie theatre since I saw Danny Zuko and the gang hung out at one in Grease. While I love a good outdoor cinema, I have never been able to sit comfortably on a bean bag or picnic blanket for too long. Perhaps I am sitting on them wrong. Anyway, when trusty WikiCamps showed a camp spot at an old Drive-In theatre site I was thrilled. When we realised that the Mareeba Drive-In was still working and showed two movies on Fridays and Saturdays I was beside myself. I didn't even care what the movies were.

Our house on wheels at the Mareeba Drive-In

After a slow, steep drive along and around mountain ranges to the west of Cairns, we were in the town of Mareeba. The drive-in was just 5 minutes out of town and it was pitch black when we pulled up just before 7pm. Just like you see in old movies, there were rows and rows of speakers for visitors to position their cars in between so they can hear the movie. We picked our spot carefully in the middle towards the back, so the height of our bus didn't block anyone's view. If you had a caravan there are grass sites right at the back so you can set up your awning and seats outside. There was also the option of old comfy couches near the canteen which a few people had opted for, rather than sitting in their trucks and cars.

The canteen had standard cinema type food. Burgers, hot dogs, mini pizzas, popcorn and chocolate. We had been planning on throwing an omelette together with leftovers from the fridge but on seeing that burgers were only $7 our frugal, healthy (usually vegetarian) lifestyle went out the window. Oh well.

What a view

We took advantage of having a house on wheels and positioned the bus so we could open the back double doors and have an uninterrupted view of the screen from our bed. A few heaped cushions, pillows and a blanket and we were set for the night. Our bus radio tuned into the movie theatre's frequency and suddenly we had surround sound. Living small can take its toll at times but when you can reach into your fridge from the bed to grab a beer while at the cinema, you feel pretty happy with life.

The first movie was Life of the Party which was pretty average but roused a few laughs. The second, that started after a 15-minute interval was Rampage with The Rock and a giant gorilla. Both get a 5 out of 10 from me, but I wasn't there for the quality of the films. The whole experience was amazing and we high fived seeing most other people having to start their drive home when the movie finished at 11.15pm. We'd already been in bed in our PJs for 4 hours. All we had to do was shut the bus doors and sleep.

In bed at the movies

When we woke up at the drive the next morning, we wondered if it would be excessive to stay for another night and watch the same movies again. Whilst deciding that, we then saw the Drive-In was for sale and spent the rest of the day working out how we would buy it and run it. While we won't be putting in an offer, we will try and get back there next weekend, no matter what the movies are.


Movies show at the Drive-In on Fridays and Saturdays and the first movie kicks off at 7.30pm. It is $14 per person and for that price, you have the option of staying overnight.
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Why? Fun for families, travellers and date night
When: Friday and Saturday nights
Where: 5303 Kennedy Hwy Mareeba QLD 4880
Cost: $14
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