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troublemag | July 19, 2024

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Tour of Ulumbarra Theatre site

Tour of Ulumbarra Theatre site


We took a site tour of an inspiring project that is set to transform cultural life in one of the fastest growing regional centres in Victoria. Bendigo’s Ulumbarra Theatre will seat 1,000 people before a stage that is double the size of the current stage at The Capital, and comes replete with an orchestra pit, a fly tower and state of the art soundproofing that includes a ‘crying room’ (in which audience members may cough, wheeze, sneeze or cry without disturbing the performance).


The theatre takes its name from the language of the local Jaara (Dja Dja Wurrung) people and evokes the original indigenous use of the site as a lookout or gathering place. While there appears to be a little confusion over its pronunciation, (there is neat vox-pop type promotional video on the theatre’s website that tackles just this issue), there is no doubt the name will prove more than apt.


Built on the heritage site of the former Bendigo Gaol, the cherry on top of this delicious performing pie is a multi-disciplinary ‘performing arts and learning complex’ developed in partnership with Bendigo Senior Secondary College, which is situated next door to the new theatre.


‘Learning kitchens’, music, dance and drama studios, and an impressive alfresco area joining the BSSC campus to the theatre will provide state of the art educational facilities for students and staff at the College, as well as a major drawcard for this aspirational city to gather hip, young, creative families to its regional bosom.


“As the new theatre delivers Bendigo its long-awaited third tier performing arts venue, increasing the size and scope of commercial performances that can tour the town, it also frees The Capital from trying to squeeze the entire cast of Swan Lake onto a duet-sized stage, and allows for renewed focus at the more independent, experimental space in the Old Fire Station. 


The roof will be fitted “within the next fortnight” The Capital’s Manager, David Lloyd, promised as he showed a small group of media and other interested parties around the Ulumbarra Theatre site. “Construction is on target to finish in December, aiming for a formal opening by mid-April 2015. … The project is being delivered on time and within the $26 million budget,” he said.