Dubbo's Westview Drive-In will celebrate 50 years of watching film stars underneath the stars this October long weekend.
The golden anniversary is a milestone unlike any other: Westview Drive-In is one of only three drive-in cinemas still operating in NSW, and the only drive-in cinema operating west of the Blue Mountains.
Having pressed play, then pause, then play again on the showing films of the big screen Westview Drive-In is a testament to all that has happened within the past half century.
Following the growth of drive-in cinemas in America, Westview Pty Ltd, a Mildura based company, bought the Century Theatre.
It built the Westview Drive-In on its current Mitchell Highway location, equipped with a 550 car-capacity and 100 by 40-foot screen.
The official opening on October 8, 1970 screened the Clint Eastwood classic Kelly's Heroes.
At the time it was reported "the opening of the Westview Drive-In puts Dubbo strides ahead of other western centres of film entertainment and will draw visitors nightly within a radius of 50 miles".
Many people in the region still have fond memories of the drive-in as the focal point of Dubbo's 1970's social scene: anything from first dates, microphone posts going 'wandering', and mischievous visitors hiding in car boots to avoid paying for a ticket.
For Audrey O'Brien, the drive-in was an entertaining night out for family and friends.
"I had a little black Morris Minor with no seatbelts in those days", she said.
"We would often drive from Wellington during the school holidays to see the kids' shows. I would be driving with four of my kids and two neighbour's kids in my tiny car.
"At the turn-off to the drive-in I'd stop and put a couple of the littlest kids in the car boot. I'd go through and pay for those sitting in the car, and then after we parked, I'd slowly pop the boot and out would come these kids! We'd sit out the front of the car on blankets with the kids lying down."
Former staff member Laurie (Max) Newton said: "During my time, the Westview Drive-In was the place to be! It wasn't uncommon for the line of cars getting in to back up about two kilometres away."
The recollections of former projectionist Ian Perry reveal that to many, Westview Drive-In was more than just a drive-in cinema.
"It was a tough job at times, working seven days a week," he said.
"But it brought me happiness knowing I was responsible for making an enjoyable atmosphere."
Mr Perry shared one of many stories from his 10 years at the drive-in.
"One time the boss changed the key to the projection room. I didn't know and after returning from the bathroom, I realised I couldn't get back in. The movie was still rolling! Fortunately, the cleaner had a key and I was able to be there three minutes before changeover. It was an almost disaster."
A Daily Liberal article from July 1, 1984, reveals a deep sadness within the community about the closure of Westview Drive-In.
"Going to the drive-in on a Saturday night is now social patterns of the past... Severe downturn in patronage is considered to be major contributing factor in the closure... The fact is, people now prefer to sit at home and watch video movies on their own TV screens."
Unused for 30 years, Dubbo's drive-in was often referred to as "Chernobyl on location."
Going to the drive-in did not disappoint... I was really excited about it reopening. It was an important part of Dubbo's social life.Drive-in fan Maree Barnes
Extensive community encouragements saw the Westview Drive-In reopen in 2018.
Drive-in fan Maree Barnes said: "Going to the drive-in did not disappoint... I was really excited about it reopening. It was an important part of Dubbo's social life."
The current pricing of $40 per car has seen a spike in regional visitors and is exactly the attention the Dubbo community needs.
The drive-in operator said: "It is hard work, but it is worthwhile after I watch people leave and look so genuinely thankful for the experience."
"We always screen films that adhere to all different demographics. And in terms of the future of the drive-in, we plan to embrace the large space to showcase community happenings."
It appears more people will be given to the chance to relive or even discover a social icon after recent plans to screen films most weekends for the foreseeable future. The October long weekend will include screenings of the Australian cult classic Running on Empty on Friday and Saturday nights, and family favourite Grease on Sunday night.
* Brooke Chandler is a CSU journalism student who grew up at Dubbo, and a media spokeswoman for Westview Drive-In