Donation of new digital projector to Dongara Denison Drive-In

Dongara Drive-in Cinema

Mitsui E&P Australia’s predecessor AWE paid for half of the new digital movie projector at the Dongara Denison Drive-In outdoor cinema, allowing Western Australia’s longest continually running drive-in to remain open.

Owned by The Shire of Irwin, the Dongara Drive-In opened in January 1967 and has been in operation ever since. As technology advanced, the number of movies available in the old 35mm format dwindled, and new releases were only available in the digital format. The drive-in faced two choices – upgrade or close down, so the Shire went looking for support.

The new digital projection equipment, installed in November 2014, cost approximately $100,000. A Lotterywest grant covered $50,000 while AWE provided the remaining $50,000.

Coordinator, Rod Owen, says AWE’s contribution was vital. “Without the support of AWE in helping to get the projector in place we would have had to close down,” he says. “The drive-in is fantastic for the community. It’s a tourist attraction because there are no longer many drive-ins around so people come from a long way away to enjoy a movie.”

AWE staff at the dongara community drive-in

Fundraising Opportunity

The drive-in is operated by a variety of community groups who depend upon the fundraising to provide essential services.

In 2020, the community groups involved are Dongara Denison Surf Life Saving Club, Dongara Lions Club, Wildfire Youth Community, Dongara Pottery Club, Dongara Tennis Club, Dongara Junior Basketball Club, and Dongara P&C.

Dongara Denison Surf Lifesaving Club first became involved in around 2009, taking advantage of the opportunity to raise funds to replace the club shed at South Beach.

Rod Owen is also President of the Dongara Denison Surf Lifesaving Club.* He says, “The shed was in a pretty sad state by the time we replaced it. Running the drive-in was the only way we could replace it, and we still count on the money raised to maintain and upgrade our equipment.”

Rod says the surf lifesaving club makes about $10,000 per year from the drive-in, and the new digital projector makes fundraising a lot easier.

“Apart from having a much bigger choice of movies, we can now run the projector ourselves,” he says. “We had to pay a guy to come down from Geraldton to operate the old projector.”

Community Effort

The community groups involved in running the drive-in undertake a wide range of roles.

One person selects and orders the movies and maintains the drive-in’s Facebook page.

Another two operate the projector.

Others sell tickets at the gate, operate the canteen, and ensure the facilities are clean and in working order.

MEPAU is delighted to be part of creating a sustainable fundraising opportunity for the community of Dongara-Port Denison.

*Rod is also President of Great Northern Junior Football League, Treasurer of Midwest Academy of Sport and Immediate Past Treasurer of Dongara Junior Footy Club (now a committee member). He won the Administrator of the Year Award at the Midwest Sports Awards in November 2019. In his spare time he’s an accountant.

Dustin Nutter, MEPAU TAFE Scholarship winner


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The Northern Perth Basin

The northern Perth Basin is a prolific oil and gas producing area covering a large portion of the Mid West region of Western Australia. The town of Dongara, located approximately 360km north of Perth, is the regional economic hub for a number of energy industries.