The Mullumbimby Drill Hall was built in 1916 and during the first half of the 20th century served as a basic military training centre for the immediate area. But from the 1950s onward, the hall became irrelevant, and stood virtually unused for many years. During these same years, the Far North Coast was forgotten and ignored by State and federal governments. Primary industries, principally sugar, bananas, fishing, beef and timber were the mainstay of local economies. By 1970, Mullumbimby was a typical, sleepy little town with more than a few shopfronts boarded up.
But then the first wave of New Age immigrants discovered the area, and things changed overnight. Mullumbimby was originally chosen to be the site of the landmark 1973 Aquarius Festival that eventually went ahead in Nimbin. Many visitors who attended the festival were so enchanted by the attractions of the area they stayed and made it their home. Mullumbimby Magic quickly established a place for itself in the Australian vocabulary. Surfers started arriving in big numbers.
With people came publicity, prosperity, more people and a need for community amenities. In 1977 a group called Mullumbimby District Cultural Centre (MDCC) obtained Council approval to occupy the Drill Hall, where it conducted a range of activities. It formed a working relationship with Pacific Players, an amateur dramatic group with a history going back to the 1950s. Early Pacific Players performances were performed at the Drill Hall until it was deemed that the hall did not meet public hall safety requirements. While rehearsals were still conducted at the Drill Hall, performances took place at the Civic Hall. After a lot of work to get the hall up to standard, a public hall license was obtained in 1988, and performances took place once again at the Drill Hall, with the audience sharing space with a large pottery kiln. The kiln was subsequently moved to a purpose-built studio adjoining the hall, and the Pacific Players became the Drill Hall Theatre Company.
The hall is now the home of the Drill Hall Theatre Company, but is in constant use by the wider community for everything from drama and cinema to life drawing, dance and exercise classes.
For a more detailed history read: The Drill Hall History – The First 100 years
The Mullumbimby District Cultural Centre
The Drill Hall site is the home of the Mullumbimby District Cultural centre (MDCC). The MDCC consists of two constituent groups, Mullumbimby Adult Learning and Potters Association (MALAP), which occupies the Pottery Studio and the Audrey Hoving Studio, and the Drill Hall Theatre Company, which occupies the Drill hall.
MDCC has been supporting the visual and preforming arts in Byron Shire since 1977
The Mullumbimby District Cultural Centre has signed a 5 year licence agreement with Byron Shire Council as of September 2016. This gives the MDDC and the DHTC a secure tenure until 2021. Pictured are MDDC committee members Greg Aitken and Michael Borenstein signing the license.