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Australian Movie Memorabilia in Bathurst Regional Council’s Australia Day activities 26th January 2023

These were from Bathurst retiree Noel Cowan’s collection and mainly consisted of 25 original Souvenir Movie Programs, which are magazine size booklets from some of Australia’s greatest movies and the Theatres (Cinemas) that showed them, covering the period from 1929 to 2009. They were on display in the foyer at BMEC on that day.

The oldest programs were from Sydney’s opulent State Theatre (1929) the atmospheric Capitol Theatre, which started screening movies that same year, The Overlanders movie (1946) starring Australian icon Chips Rafferty and from Jedda (1955) from distinguished film director Charles Chauvel.

The most recent were from the energetic musicals Moulin Rouge (2001) from director Baz Luhrmann and Bran Nue Dae (2009) starring Jessica Mauboy. Other titles (in descending decade order) included Babe, Shine, Crocodile Dundee, The Man From Snowy River, Hoodwink (which was partly filmed in Bathurst) Newsfront, Sunday Too Far Away, Ned Kelly, and Theyre A Weird Mob.

Noel said that this Australian Movie Memorabilia display in Bathurst almost did not happen. I had, over the years, made approaches to our Council about the idea however, due to a long story, including delays caused by the Coronavirus, it never got anywhere. Therefore, I gave up on the idea until mid last year when I approached them again. As I did not see any progress, I treated the idea as again just “Gone With The Wind”. 

Then late last year some serious events happened. My longest and closest friend died suddenly. I was speaking to him one day and then two days later, Les was gone. I knew him for 60 years and we went through school together. Shortly after, I got very ill and upon recovery, prompted by what had happened, I decided that I would give the idea of offering to put together a free display of mainly, very rare Souvenir Movie Programs for Australian movies to Council, one last try.

And bingo, this time it was a yes from Council. I could not have been happier with the result. The cooperation from everyone concerned including Mayor Robert Taylor, the Events team and those at BMEC, in helping to get the project up and running was terrific.  

Due to space restrictions, this display was fairly small and only utilized part of the Australian items I have. However, I am very pleased that the public had an opportunity to view the impressive covers from these very rare items from our wonderful film history. It is pleasing to see that interest in our film history is increasing and perhaps there may be another opportunity to do a larger Australian Movie Memorabilia display, preferably at a Council venue, in Bathurst next year.

We could also include photos of all Bathurst theatres and cinemas from the past to the present, which I was unable to contemplate this time, due to the limited space available.  I know that Alan McRae from the Bathurst  District Historic Society would be able to contribute photos from his collection of past Theatres (Cinemas) in Bathurst and I have a few from The Charlotte Street Cinema. We could also include photos from our modern Metro Cinemas here, if they were happy to get involved.

It would be a wonderful look into the “then and now” of our Cinemas. Someone asked me once….’Why do I bother with all of this?” This is my way of contributing to society and the arts. I would also like to resurrect another idea that I proposed previously, which was to arrange a display/s of movie items, from the 1920’s or 30’s or 40’s, or from specific genres such as musicals etc. An ideal time to start this would be during next year’s Seniors Festival, which I am certain would create a lot of interest.

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