For once you won't have to worry about things like hiring a babysitter or finding a parking space or even dressing up for going to the theatre. Drive-in cinemas come where entertainment meets comfort.
Once a popular mode of entertainment in Australia, the trend for drive-ins subsided during the late 20th century only to be revived again over the last decade. The concept of Drive-in Cinemas purportedly started in America, but was soon embraced by Australians with the launch of the first drive-in theatre in Burwood (Melbourne) in 1954.
Having initiated the trend, today, Melbourne rightfully owns the maximum number of screens – nine – than any other city in Australia. There are three drive-ins here: Lunar (Dandenong), Village Coburg (Coburg) and Dromana 3 (Dromana).
They are all the fun of conventional open-air theatres in addition to comfortable seats, air-conditioning/heating, minus the bugs. So the next time you plan to go for a movie, check out these drive-ins to experience cinema under the stars.
Lunar The Lunar Drive-in Theatre is based in Dandenong, 30 km south-east of CBD. It was launched in 1956 and today it is Australia's largest operational theatre with three mammoth screens. It is open every night of the year, except Christmas and showcases all the latest Hollywood blockbusters. The price is amazingly affordable at $28 per carload (a standard five-seater) and the capacity – immense (it can accommodate around 950 cars). They use Dolby Stereo soundtracks, xenon arc lamps and Phillips TODD-AO projectors for fabulous audio and video output. However, the sound settings can be custom adjusted through your car's FM stereo. Check the session times or contact the theatre for other inquiries. There's a café where you can enjoy lip-smacking hamburgers, fries and other snacks. Both indoor and al fresco seating is available and the café operates everyday before and during the shows. Address: 115 South Gippsland Hwy, Dandenong VIC 3175 Melway Map: 95 H2 Phone: 03 9706 9988
Village Coburg The Village Coburg Drive-in Cinema is set in Coburg, just 8 km north of CBD with a capacity of over 900 cars. There are three screens - showcasing latest blockbusters. It was once Australia's largest drive-in until the expansion of Lunar (Dandenong) a few years back. The screens are 33 metres wide and like a traditional drive-in, the car's FM stereo provides audio. You can check the session times and buy tickets online. Entry is free for children under 12. The 'Mad Monday's' offer (applicable every Monday) allows you to catch a movie at half the price ($8 for an adult; $20 per carload). There's a quaint diner offering take away, confectionery, popcorn, cold drinks, ice creams; hot food like chips, burgers and donuts are available too. If you're too engrossed in the movie or feel too lazy to step out, you can even SMS your order and it'll be delivered to your car. Address: 155 Newlands Rd, Coburg VIC 3058 Melway Map: 17, J17 Phone: 03 9354 8633
Dromana Dromana 3 Drive-in is, as the name suggests, situated in Dromana, 80 km south of Melbourne. It first opened in 1961 and has expanded since – now housing three huge screens. It can accommodate over 450 cars and a 'bumper sticker' (2-people pass) costs only $23 for a session. You can check the pricing details online. Your car's FM stereo system will act as your audio player or you can attach an external drive-in speaker (available at the theatre) to your car. Shels diner operates at 8 pm and again 10:30 pm on movie nights where you can get hot and cold food. For session times and other details contact Dromana Drive-in on 03 5931 0022, during week days, and 03 5987 2492, after 8 pm on show nights only. A vibrant market operates from the site on the 2nd and 4th Sunday of the month. From fresh produce, to handicrafts, antiques, collectables, toys, tools, plants, books, you can get a host of things at bargain prices. The Dromana Public Golf Course is a stone's throw from the venue. Address: 133 Nepean Highway, Dromana, VIC 3936 Melway Map: 160 E 5 Phone: 03 5931 0022 (during week days), 03 5987 2492 (after 8 pm on show nights)