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Thursday, December 15, 2016

Oz: Hidden Gems -- Retro Theater, Laurieton NSW

Little Laurieton isn't too small for a terrific vintage Plaza Theater.  New South Wales, Australia.
As most of our cruising's in the middle of nowhere, and towns and cities often in 2nd and 3rd world countries, since December 2014, date-night movies out went from a monthly indulgence to a rare and treasured treat.  Wayne and I share a special fondness for independent, vintage theaters.*


Imagine our delight to discover the vintage Plaza Theater, playing first-run and Sundance prize-winning films in lovely little Laurieton, a quaint fishing town in Northern New South Wales Australia, with a population of a mere 2,000 or so souls!

Ok, admittedly, we did see two movies in Gold Coast (Queen of Katwe and Arrival, our first since Fiji's capital, Suva, May 2016), but that was in a big mall theater.  Not the same.  

Also, in Gold Coast, when we asked if there was a military service discount, something regularly offered in USA and New Zealand movie theaters, we were told no.  Not a big deal; just never hurts to ask -- generally it's about $2/off/ticket when we show our photo military identification. 

Imagine our surprise when we figured there would also be no discount at Plaza Theater, and instead were told, "Just go on in.  Manager's rules."  We stood, puzzled, wallets open, ready to pay, feeling a little embarrassed as we were literally waved in.  We expected to pay something, especially for such a cool, small-town theater.  I went back out and bought some jaffas, figuring there had to be some margin for the theater in them.

Don't go Laurieton Plaza Theater because you might get a discount.  Go because Plaza Theater's a lovingly restored -- and then some! -- heartbeat of a caring community.  Heck, in a way it's even an early inspirational influence for "Moulin Rouge" creator "Baz" Luhrmann's career, still draws celebrities as well as tourists into Laurieton.  Baz Luhrmann's dad was a projectionist back in the day, and today, the theater owner runs the projections himself.

One other refreshing bonus:  other than a few previews of upcoming movies, Laurieton Plaza Theater shows no commercials!

Small town or not, Laurieton's cinema's still full screen good sound, and first run movies.  North New South Wales, Australia.
Fittingly, Plaza Theater and its re-creator, David McGowan are even featured in a documentary on Australian cinemas.

In the two days since we ducked into Camden Haven, Laurieton, the generous folks at  Plaza Theater are just one of many examples where we found ourselves on the receiving end of above-and-beyond kindness.

We plan to return to Plaza Theater again today to see another movie, and will look for ways to give back to this incredible movie theater, and town. 

Given higher winds than we like sailing Journey in continuing "outside," we're looking forward to our chance to do just that.  As is often the serendipitous case, there are far worse places to be "stuck."  Laurieton definitely goes on our list of hidden gems - unplanned and unexpectedly wonderful.

*If you love vintage (and other funky) theaters, check out past posts on a few of our favorite experiences Honeymoon Beach, St. Thomas USVI,  Key West, Florida, Jacksonville, Florida, as well as the websites for vintage movie theaters in Concrete, WashingtonSt. Helens, Oregon, Vancouver WashingtonCamas, Washington, Port Townsend Washington, and Santa Barbara California.  

Got any favorite vintage or especially funky movie theater locations?  Spread the word!
Honeymoon Beach movie night, St. Thomas.  What's more classic than old movies on the beach, with a sheet for a screen strung between palm trees.  Errr, image and sound quality was more than a mite better at Plaza Theater.  Still, both great memories.
Location Location
We are currently at Camden Haven (S31.30.080 E152.48.094), New South Wales territory, a tuck-in due to stronger winds than we like sailing in on our way to Pittwater. Please note - if you plan on cruising to Laurieton, watch for a future post regarding important safety information regarding entering Camden Haven!

Cruising By the Numbers
  • Our November 2016 sail from New Caledonia to Australia, 790 miles
  • Our September 2016 sail from Vanuatu to New Caledonia, 305 miles.
  • Our August 2016 sail from Fiji to Vanuatu, 525 miles.
  • We cruised just under 440 miles in Fiji, between late May and early August.  
  • Our May 2016 sail from New Zealand to Fiji, 1090 miles.
  • December 2015 - May 2016 if we weren't cruising New Zealand or hunkering, we were making massive road trips from New Zealand's tip to its tail.
  • From December 2014 - November 2015 we sailed from Northern Florida's Atlantic side to New Zealand, over 10,000 miles, with more than a few stops in between.
  • December 2013 - May 2014 we sailed 1792  miles from Jacksonville Florida to the Bahamas and back.
  • March 2012 we bought Journey in St. Lucia.  September 2012 we moved aboard, did some boat work, then sailed her to Jacksonville Florida by June 2013, 3762 miles.
Up Next
We’re on our way to Pittwater, near Sydney  for pre-sale boat work, ~122 nautical miles left. Weather may force us to stop along the way, though we're more likely to wait a little longer for a weather window to make it to Pittwater safely in one longer passage.