Do something different on your next weekend away or road trip - take a look at Grafton on the NSW North Coast.
History fascinates me and I have a bit of a passion for historic buildings or vintage architecture. Over the years my family has enjoyed road trips up and down Australia's east coast, many of which have included visits to historic towns. Cue my kids moaning right about now! "This is educational," I reassure them as they both rolled their eyes.
If you are like me and enjoy vintage experiences but still want the advantage of modern amenities, you can't go past The Saraton Theatre Grafton. We found this little gem on a road trip to Queensland a few years ago.
We stopped and enjoyed a movie in one of the smaller cinemas in comfort because the complex was renovated in the Art Deco style of the original building (built in 1926) but with the latest 'state-of-the-art' technology in sound, wide screen projection as well as providing for wheelchair access and hearing loop facilities.
The acoustics in The Saraton Theatre's Cinema One are great. This cinema turns into a live theatre stage and seats 950 people. The Saraton Theatre Grafton is the entertainment centre of The Clarence Valley and is winner of the "Best NSW Heritage Building Renovation 2011
The complex now hosts many live show in Cinema One. The two smaller cinemas seat 150 people and all three cinemas have the same great sound system.
When we saw the movie the acoustics were better than any city cinema complex, according to my music-buff hubby who knows about such things. I was just happy the chairs were comfortable, some other vintage cinemas we've visited still had chairs from the 1940's. This causes a bit of a problem when you're sitting for a couple of hours or more.
After watching the movie we were lucky enough to be given a tour so we saw all three cinemas. Cinema One is very grand, and even though we haven't yet, we look forward to seeing a live show there soon.
As an independent cinema complex, and still owned by descendants of the original owners, The Notaras Family, the residents of Grafton and surrounding towns really benefit from The Saraton Theatre by being able to see movies and live shows at regional prices.
The Saraton Theatre's Cinema One is used for community events and fundraisers as well as professional acts.
There are many old-school style cinemas dotted throughout Australia but The Saraton Theatre is the only one that shows movies as well as having a large live theatre hall.
The residents of Grafton don't know how lucky they are, the original cinema was earmarked to be a car park back in the late 1990's when the family briefly considered selling the site. Luckily, four members of the Notaras family pooled their expertise and resources to give Grafton this entertainment complex, which is a must-see for any movie, live theatre or history buff.
If you're looking for something different to do and can spare a few days take a drive to Grafton and check out a live show or movie.
Take a look at the website to see what is showing right now, some of the live shows are really worth a look, especially if you are over paying high city prices.
The variety of live shows suit many tastes from country music to classical as well as comedy acts and revues. A show in an iconic, historic theatre with great acoustics, now that's my idea of what a theatre experience should be like. Oh by the way, just as an aside, 'Saraton' is Notaras backwards.