Parkerville Amphitheatre: Returning to Nature

When I first came down to Perth to live—because the company I was working for in the country was closing down that mine site—I hung around for a month or so with someone that I had met on his occasional trips up to the mine. On the couple of occasions that the industrial chemist at the site took leave the person that came up to relieve him was someone called Lance.

When the mining company closed down their mine site they offered me a job in the city and, somewhat reluctantly—because I did not see myself as a ‘city’ person (and still don’t)—I took up the offer. When I got to Perth I looked up Lance a few times. This would have been around the early 70s; probably about 1973-ish.

Lance lived out in the deep hills area to the east of Perth—in Darlington.

One of the locations that Lance liked in and around the hills was the Parkerville Amphitheatre out on Jane Brook in Hovea (or, basically, Parkerville) and I went there on two occasions with him. The first was just to have a look at it because when he mentioned it to me I indicated that I had no idea what it was, or where it was. Jeez, really, I didn’t actually know what an amphitheatre was. We never had any of those back where I came from.

The second time I went there, which was only a couple of weeks after the first, was to a ‘concert’. Well, a performance really. It was in the evening (on a Saturday I think) and we saw some local folk group performing. It was kind of okay. They did a couple of Cat Stevens songs and a few songs I didn’t know. But while the performance might have bordered on being boring the best and most memorable part of going was probably getting to see all the CYTs (cute young things). In those days some of the really hot CYTs tended to go braless under their tops and I have to tell you that braless under a tee is a seriously eye-fetching ‘look’. A girl in a tee or cheese-cloth top with no bra on was a magically awesome thing to behold. Especially when you are in your early 20s.

Sometime later, probably a couple of years later, I ended up going back to the Parkerville Amphitheatre to take some pictures. Sadly this was long before the digital era and these pictures are either on negatives or slides (waiting for me to get around to digitising my negatives and slides).

IMGP1499-SmallAnyway today I decided to go to Parkerville and check out the amphitheatre. Sadly it is neglected and overgrown. It has almost returned to nature. Anyone who did not know what it was and where it was could easily drive past it and never know it was there.

Following are some pictures I took of the amphitheatre.

I could not get down into the amphitheatre because it is fenced off with barbed wire fencing and “NO ENTRY” signs on every entrance. Even the large south-side car park is fenced off with padlocked gates and “NO ENTRY” signs.

Because I could not get down into the amphitheatre and had to take my shots from up the hill overlooking the facility the pictures are very busy with trees and leaves and shadows everywhere—so it is hard to make out details. I will put an explanation after each picture to give it some context. Also you can get much larger versions of each picture by clicking on the picture below [use Ctrl+Click to open then picture in another Tab] and loading up a 1920x version from the Abalook SmugMug folio (no password required). The three times larger versions make it easier to pick out the detail.

The seating

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This shot shows the ‘seating’ which was, as it is for most amphitheatres, basically tiers or layers cut into the hillside. Each tier is supported with upright planking and there were concrete slabs laid on the top. For this reason it was generally advisable to take a blanket to sit on unless you wanted to sit on a cold, and most-times dirty, concrete slab.

As you can see from this shot there are now trees growing up through the layered seating, which gives you some idea how long it is since this amphitheatre was used as an open-air theatre.

It also looks like all the seating slabs have been removed, although it is hard to tell under the layer of leaves and gumnuts.

The pool and stage

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This shot shows the swimming pool, and in the background is the stage. Yep. There was a swimming pool at the Parkerville Amphitheatre. How cool is that? Although it was full of water nobody used this pool at the one and only performance I ever went to at this theatre.

The tiered seating shown in the first picture is to the left of the pool.

The Stage over-the-brook

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This shot shows the stage on the left-hand side with Jane Brook in the middle (which is basically empty of water except for a small pool in the middle), and the bridge over Jane Brook on the right-hand side.

If you came into the amphitheatre from the south-side road and south-side car park then you would need to use this bridge to come around to the seating.

Wide shot showing seating, pool, and stage

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This wide shot taken from the best position I could find, not being able to actually get into the compound, shows the seating on the left, the blue-walled pool in the middle (lower), and the stage on the right of that darn tree that I could not avoid getting in the picture.

Art on the wall of the pool

PoolSide-SmallThe pool actually has drawings on the wall all around it as you can see from the this enhanced crop taken from the second picture (this picture does not link anywhere).

So that is it. Once a place where people went to see local bands and theatre that is now almost totally forgotten and will soon totally return to nature.

If I ever actually get around to digitising my negatives and slides I will post up some pictures of Parkerville Amphitheatre in its younger days.

If anyone has any pictures of the amphitheatre then I would love to see them. I did a Google search and a Bing ‘deep’ search. Sadly there are no pictures that I could find on the InterWeb. I did find out that John Joseph Jones, who settled in Australia in 1952, designed and built the amphitheatre between 1966 and 1969 with the help of volunteers and prison inmates. According to the notes I found the amphitheatre incorporated five stages and two enclosed theatres. When I went to the amphitheatre around 1973-ish we only went to the theatre shown in my pictures and I have to confess I do not know where the other four stages or the two enclosed theatres are (or were) and they were certainly nowhere to be seen from the road today when I took these pictures. Perhaps they have been dismantled?

Mostly I would like to see some pictures of an actual performance happening. You can either post a comment with a link to your pictures or e-mail them to me. You can decode my e-mail addy from the “About Me” section.

BarryMark