A Tour of Homebush Theatre


A common complaint when it comes to this line of work (It’s not work unless you’re getting paid – Ed) is that although we can admire these old buildings and speculate about their history, we’re forced to do so from afar. We’ve all been there: you’re standing in front of an old, seemingly derelict icon from another era, possibly from your own past. You’ve been past it thousands of times, and hell, back in the glory days you might even have gone in. Oh, to have one more look around inside…no one’s around, who would mind? It would be so easy to sneak in and spend a few hours in the past…

And then common sense kicks in, and you keep walking, only now you’re carrying the added burden of regret.

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The call’s coming from INSIDE THE HOUSE!

But thankfully, Past/Lives reader “Cylonicus” took full advantage of a temporary absence of common sense and managed to get inside the forbidding Homebush Theatre/Niterider/Midnight Star et al. In an even less sensical move (but one I’m eternally grateful for), he was kind enough to send Past/Lives the photos. Of course, Past/Lives does not condone this kind of thing, nor trespassing in general…but if you just can’t help yourself, be sure to send me the pics. I have a feeling this won’t be the first time…

I’ve written about this place twice before, so if you’re in the dark you might want to bone up on its history before you step inside:

Homebush Cinema/Niterider Theatre Restaurant/Midnight Star Reception Centre/Derelict – Homebush, NSW

Past/Lives Flashback #3: Midnight Star Reception Centre – Homebush, NSW

And now, without further commentary from me, behold the fractured beauty of the Homebush Theatre one last time (before it becomes apartments). A massive THANK YOU once again to reader “Cylonicus”!

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24 responses

  1. I played a couple of shows there about 10 years ago. The hippy-punks were squatting it and were looking after it quite well. Many parties and shows. Not long later heavies and thug-delinquents strong-armed their way in the doors literally and stole the squatted venue. The place got pretty smashed up and went quite down hill. Poor place.

  2. Wow, those railings haven’t changed since its 1970s heyday as an ice rink! But just to the left of that bar in the back corner, there used to be a machine that dispensed toasted cheese sandwiches….I can still smell them, accompanied by Farewell Aunty Jack on the jukebox!

    1. badbum61 – do you mean the actual icerink itself was in that sunken dance floor area surrounded by the railings? i thought they went in after. mind u – the few times i went there with my mum i was about 9 or 10 so my memories are very hazy.

  3. MY only concern with all these derelict buildings is the people who are evidently destroying walls, etc that MIGHT have Asbestos in them (quite likely)

    Just a thought though. By the way, i love this blog, brings back memories from this was actually operating.

    Also, where was image 12 taken? And is that water flooding the stairs?

    1. Hi Nathan, I was the owner of Niterider. Image 12 is looking down into the cellar that was under the bar area and is flooded because it is below ground level. An automatic submersible pump was installed in a pit in the bottom of the cellar but it appears if the power is off, it has flooded. Thanks for your interest. Regards Jonathan.

      1. Jason Osborne

        I absolutely love this building and would my left foot to step inside and see it with my own eyes. I don’t know but I’m fascinated by this one structure. Maybe it’s the mystery

  4. I’ve driven past this place and always wonder what it was and what was happening to it. It seems such a waste to let it rot like this.

  5. You should post some screen graps from X-Men Origins: Wolverine… The old cinema was used as an old boxing headquarters in Las Vagas.

    The boxing posters in the pics above were obviously left on the walls by the production.

  6. This is where I met my first real girlfriend ice skating. So sad to see it going to ruins this way. Her name was Lynn and I always looked forward to Tuesday night to skate with her.

  7. Does anyone know who owns this and the land behind it now?

  8. I can shed some indirect light on ownership and other affiliations to this site at Parramatta Road/Powell Street, Homebush. It seems the entire site is owned by none other than Emma Kemeny. If you are not familiar with that name, she is in fact the very successful proprietor of Kemenys Liquor which is NSW’s biggest independent liquor business. She makes all the business decisions although her two sons, Andrew and Gabor, also run that particular business.

    The three of them are also the major business stake-holders in Overtone Pty Ltd which apparently pushed for the development application with Strathfield Local Council to (unsuccessfully) redevelop the former Homebush Theatre site into a multi-storeyed residential tower development, complete with approximately 660 apartments spread across 3 individual towers. It was to be called Homebush Towers.

    Their proposed heights of between 68.4 and 103.8m outraged local residents who would have had to contend with increased traffic, in excess of 1000 additional new residents, in an already dangerously over-congested part of Parramatta Road. The buildings would have been an eyesore and no direct transport infrastructure could have credibly improved the situation had development permission been granted.

    The development was given full support by the former sitting member for Strathfield, MP Charles Casuscelli, (who thankfully lost his seat in the recent NSW State Government election of March, 2015); it seems he told them personally, they should try to lodge another development application with Strathfield Council to push forth a similar proposal without reducing the controversial tower heights of between 22 and 30 storeys each. He would then work out a way of earmarking development permissions without going directly through official planning channels with local council members. This was at odds with the Deputy Mayor at the time.

    “The massive proposed Homebush development, featuring twin 32-storey towers and 660 apartments, has been abruptly withdrawn without explanation by the developers.

    It is believed the developer realised the $200 million scheme would be turned down.”

    Overtone Pty Ltd has a reported annual revenue estimate of AU$1,329,712.00 per annum and is listed as an NEC type investor. There are only three(3) employees of the company as of April, 2015 who are also the three Kemeny family members. Their main business address is listed as also being their residential address in Bellevue Hill. That could be for taxation purposes as they also have another business address in Bondi.

  9. anyone know how to get inside? interested to take photos of the decay.

    1. I walked passed it today, the building to the west has a driveway which allows you to easily bypass the Parramatta Rd security locked gate. And then I guess a pair of decent bolt cutters to get through the padlock on the outside door…. But that would be wrong !

      1. hi, does anyone know if the theatre is still there & if there’s still a way to get in?

  10. Stephen Donaldson | Reply

    Thank you for this fabulous insight !
    My Girlfriend at the time worked at the Nightrider Theatre Restaurant 1988 ,and I lived down the rd from it!😊✌️

    1. Hi Stephen, I was the owner of Niterider then, I’m sure I’de remember her, please give her my regards and thanks as all my staff were fabulous. Cheers Jonathan.

  11. This brings back memories. I used to skate there back in the early to mid seventies when I was in my teens. I recall that the Ice surface was an irregular shape, and I also recall the railing surrounding it rather than boards like you would find at a regular rink like Canterbury. As I recall there was a restaurant a few doors away that had a small coin operated pool table, and that’s where I first played pool. After I got my feet under me, I started going to Canterbury, and even took up playing ice hockey. As I recall, there was a bit of a rivalry between the skaters from the rinks. For me it all lasted till 1977 when my parents dragged me off to Canada…and quit playing hockey, took up skiing instead. I still remember some of the characters who used to skate there, even some of the names. Thanks for the memories….

  12. I can remember as a very small child in the early 50s watching the cult classic “the thing” and being scared out of my wits. Love the movie now. In the 80s an elderly Italian couple ran a milk bar in the adjacent shop a welcome refreshment stop. Now forlorne the Homebush palace of dreams looks now.

  13. My wife used to work there in 1987-88. She was a dancer and also served the meals there. Great memories for her. Many thanks

    1. Hi Steve, I was the owner of Niterider then, congratulations for marrying one of my awesome staff, you obviously have fabulous taste, so glad she holds great memories of my outrageous theater restaurant. All the very best to you both. Kindest Regards, Jonathan.

  14. I went to a Rave party there on 26th of October 1996. DJ Paul Elstak from Holland played there and it was one of the best nights of my life. There was a chandelier in the middle of the main area back then. Such great memories even if it were only 20 odd years ago.
    I now actually work just around the corner from the theatre and see it daily, with a smile on my face.

  15. I used to skate there 2-3 times a week, It was strange as I had also used this for cinema,
    before the conversion. It remain closed for a while until the restaurant. I lived across the road behind the Horse and Jockey pub,It was a wonderful experience to skate on ice and I had met some memorable people too. i ended up working at EMI before closing, and then worked at Arnotts biscuits. Everything is gone and only memories. I left OZ a long time ago and thankful for this nostalgic memory.

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