A new online resource is available now to help you take The Civic Hall Historical Tour.  There is so much to see and learn…discover what led to the inception of the Ballarat Civic Hall from the earlier predecessor halls.   Learn how the Civic Hall fits into the Heritage Precinct and how it is linked to the discovery of gold in the district.  There is a plaque to commemorate the planting of two rare  Ginkgo Trees, believed to be living fossils.  As the weather warms up, take the challenge, its a self-paced tour, you will be surprised what you will see along the way.  

The Civic Hall is one of Ballarat’s most imposing buildings and a fine example of Stripped Classical Art Deco Style.  Designed by Architect Herbert Leslie Coburn and Gordon Murphy.  It  was built by local builder WB Trahar.  Bricks were supplied by local Ballarat company Selkirks.  It was fitted out by local companies and trades people.  

The clever design makes use of the undulating land and is a cross diagonal design that incorporates a large main auditorium  and a smaller Lower Civic Hall.   Seating Capacity  is around 1500 in the main hall and 400 in the Lower Hall.  It was the largest building project undertaken outside Melbourne after  World War 2.  The Civic Hall opened 20th August 1956.

The Civic Hall is currently undergoing a Community Participatory Design Process to determine its use for future generations.  The Save Civic Hall group will advocate for the conservation of the hall’s heritage and preserve its integrity as a multi-purpose, major events venue.

You can contribute your ideas for the Civic Hall or view the current work by consultants Here Studio at the foyer of the Civic Hall :  Tuesdays  9-5pm, Thursdays 12-7pm.  The 1st Saturday of the Month 10am-1pm.

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Calling for information on films that were shown at Civic Hall

Cinema and Theatre Historical Society: (CATHS)


We do know that movies were shown in the Civic Hall and Earl Martell from CATHS  is keen to add the Civic Hall into their records and is seeking information.  The Harvey Mangles films were identified but there must be many more as I have heard people in the community say that they do remember seeing films there.  If you can remember titles of these films please contact me at or phone 53356290.  I  would also like to update our events list with further details so please contact us first and we will forward your information to Earl.

They have a very nice website…check it out!



It was announced on WIN NEWS last week that maintenance and repair works will commence on the Main Auditorium in November or December.  This news was exciting and a real breakthrough in the fight to save the Ballarat Civic Hall.  it appears that the 5 concepts to be taken to the next phase of the Participatory Design Process all retain the main Hall so there is no reason to delay the necessary works.  The Demolition Application lapses in September so we can assume that DEMOLITION IS DEAD!

This is  due to the community sending a clear message that we will not allow our heritage to be desecrated and disrespected in such a destructive manner.  Thanks to you, the supporters, the future is looking brighter for the Ballarat Civic Hall!


As we near the end of Phase 2 of the process it is extremely important for people to view the current Design Charettes that are on view in the foyer of the Civic Hall.  These are little pictures of what the different elements of the designs might look like.  The concepts will reduce from 10-5 in the coming weeks with a Transition Exhibition at the Civic Hall on 31st October where the 5 concepts of the 3rd Phase will be revealed.  

We would encourage people that are associated with theatre or performing arts to look at the designs and ask if their needs would be catered for.  Some of the designs lose the use of Lower Civic Hall to a Library extension.  There does not appear to be anywhere for the assembly of large groups of performing artists such as orchestras, choirs or large events or exhibitions.  The Flytower could be an air circulator  for the Library instead of what it was originally designed.  If you have an interest please call into Here Studio at the foyer and put your views across.

Hours:                            Tuesday       9-5pm

                                          Thursday     12-7pm

                                          1st Saturday morning in the month 10-1pm (next is 3rd Oct)


Local Student Liana Skewes is currently undertaking an oral history of Civic Hall Stories on Thursdays at The Foyer of the Civic Hall.  She has been recruited as an Intern and this project forms part of her History course.  This will be a valuable rescource for future generations to tell the incredible story of the Civic Hall and the people who used it.  Anyone wishing to participate please contact the Consultants of Here Studio at the Foyer of the Civic Hall at the above hours or email:

























Sound and Light Seminar at The Ballarat Art Gallery Annexe this coming Thursday

The Core Team at Civic Hall Site, 300 Mair Street, Ballarat, invite you and your friend or partner to our:

Seminar at the Art Gallery of Ballarat Annexe


Thursday, 10th September 2015, 5pm – 7pm

Join us in considering multi-purpose needs and possibilities for existing and potential venues and facilities at Civic Hall Site. Guest speakers will present, from different professional and technical perspectives, followed by a moderated panel discussion. The focus will be on ‘state of the art’ delivery for multi-purpose arts and entertainment venues: Both new and old – Clean slate and retrofitting.

We are tremendously excited to present the following expert speakers:

Rex Hardware, Lecturer, Live Production, Federation University Arts Academy
John Ford, Director & Lighting Designer, Relume Consulting
John Alekna,
 Acoustic Design, Marshall Day
Mike Hall, Director & AV Consultant, Rigoni Hall
Graeme Campbell
, Principal, Environmental Noise & Vibration, SLR

Even if ‘Sound + Light’ is not your personal area of interest, please feel free to tell your friends and family. We would not want anyone to miss out on this important learning opportunity. We have a lot at stake and we aim to get it right for everyone’s benefit.

Our established invitation to the people of Ballarat and all interested stakeholders is:

Dream big, get into it and let’s reinvent this whole site as truly ‘future-ready’!




In the Breath of Ghosts…mysterious and beautiful! in the Civic Hall

“In the Breath of Ghosts” by Lisa Anderson

As part of the International Ballarat Foto Biennale there is a free exhibition in the main auditorium of the Civic Hall.  This weekend is the last chance to see this amazing exhibition which captures the essence of an abandoned large building with its interactive ghostly images and projections…truly strange and mysterious!

The first time since 2002 that the whole main auditorium  has been used for an event.  

Tours take place this weekend 5th & 6th September 2-6 pm no booking necessary.  

Tours are strictly limited to 8 people at a time.

These images were captured on a mobile phone…  see if you can spot the ghost!












The 59th Anniversary was enjoyed by everyone who embraced the celebration in the foyer of the Civic Hall.   It was a milestone in the Civic Hall’s History as the 1st time the  Anniversary was able to be celebrated in the Civic Hall building.   Next year 2016 will mark the 60th Anniversary of The Opening of the Civic Hall  and we look forward to a much larger celebration inside the Civic Hall…plans are already being discussed.

A big thank you must go to a number of people:

  • Here Studio who were willing to allow a small celebration in the foyer
  • The Ukulele  Kollective who entertained the people who came to view the concepts and enjoy the celebration
  • Cake Decorator extraordinaire Colleen, whose  did an outstanding design and decoration of the celebratory cake
  • Mr John Ditchburn (Ditchy) for allowing the use of his cartoon “Civic Hall …The Modern Day Eureka Rebellion” on the cake
  • Poet and Playwrite  Tiffany Barton for coming all the way from WA to present her persona as “The Civic Hall Ghost” and reciting her moving poem about the Civic Hall.

Here is the Courier Article of 21.8.15 by Matthew Dixon which captures the essence of “Community Togetherness”




Civic Hall will celebrate 59 years…20th August 1956

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The Sign will be out and the Balloons and streamers will be up:

Come and Join us to celebrate the 59th Anniversary of the opening of the Civic Hall at the Foyer this Thursday 20th August.  Here Studio will be open as usual from 12-7pm and we encourage all the community to visit the foyer and view the 10 concepts as the consultants are preparing to narrow them down to 5 concepts during phase 2 of the Community Participatory Design Process.  It is important to have your say so please participate.

You can view this amazing celebratory cake and at 5.00pm we will cut the cake and you can help us eat it and wash it down with a complementary drink to toast the Civic Hall’s past and it’s future service to the Community. 


Opening of the Ballarat Civic Hall 1956

Image is owned by the Central Highlands Library

Thursday 20th August marks the 59th year of the opening of The Ballarat Civic Hall in 1956. The very same day the lock was turned for the very last time on the Alfred Hall (Now Big W) which was considered beyond repair and later demolished.  A procession took place from the closure of the Alfred Hall to the opening of the magnificent Civic Hall.  Mayor Callow led the procession.

Plans for the Civic Hall were formulated in 1939 but were unable to be implemented until after World War 11 due to financial constraints and manpower as the war consumed all resources.  It is a great testimony to the strength and persistence  of people of Ballarat that they did not give up and were determined to have a Civic Hall to replace the doomed Alfred Hall.

Long serving City of Ballarat Councillor, Herbert Leslie Coburn  left a lasting legacy in Ballarat for his achievements on Council, teaching at the School of Mines  and in his well respected Architectural business .  His architectural prowess and vision led to the erection of many fine public and residential buildings in Ballarat and the Western District.  

The Civic Hall was his Crowning Glory…unfortunately he did not live to see it open on the 20th August 1956, he was admitted to a hospital in Melbourne and  died that same year in September.  

We honour his memory and vow to save his wonderful Civic Hall!





Here Studio, consultants for the Community Design Process for Ballarat Civic Hall are hosting  a user groups workshop to identify the needs of potential user groups.  It will be interactive and informative so come one and all and contribute to this workshop.

Please RSVP to the Civic Hall Site at the link below:

WHAT: Working Groups Launch
WHEN: August 11, 2015 at 5pm
WHERE: Craig’s Royal Hotel – Grand Dining Room
10 Lydiard St S
Ballarat, VIC 3350
Google map and directions
CONTACT: Mairin Briody ·




The People’s Hall Exhibition hailed a complete success


We are delighted to announce that the recent People’s Hall exhibition was a resounding success thanks to the support of many businesses, community groups and individuals throughout the community.  Attendance was around 500 for the 12 days that the exhibition was open.  Our Official launch was attended by 120+ people and we were treated to a performance by the Beaufort Municipal Band, winners of the 1974 South St Competition at Civic Hall .   Graeme Vendy OAM of the Vibratones opened the exhibition with his account of the many dances that he and his fellow band members performed at The Civic Hall.  Councillor Samantha McIntosh also represented the Council offering some  words of encouragement and joined in the atmosphere of the opening.

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From this exhibition we were able to develop many more contacts and networks in addition to identifying additional items of memorabilia and events pertaining to the Civic Hall.

We are exploring the possibility of publishing a book from the abundance of material and contributions offered by so many ordinary citizens who over the years had some form of affiliation with the hall as a user, performer or a worker.

There have also been offers by people with expertise to write chapters and advise on publishing so we will work towards the book’s development in the near future.

The 10 Concepts were endorsed by Council to proceed with Phase 2 of the Community Design Process

Last Wednesday night the 8th July at the Council meeting, the councilors unanimously voted to endorse  Here Studio’s 10 concepts that were  developed during Phase 1 of the Community Design Process in order to proceed to Phase 2

Phase 2 is well and truly underway and Here Studio are asking for feedback on the 10 concepts in order for them to narrow down the preferences into 5 concepts at the end of this phase.  It is critical that everyone views the concepts, gets involved and selects their preferences or maybe there are other ideas among the community that have yet to be explored.  

Now is the time to visit the Foyer of the Civic Hall and put forth your preferences/ideas so that 5 designs can be selected  in order to go forth into Phase 3 which will produce 3 fully fledged designs on which  Council will vote for the re-development of the Civic Hall Site.  Phase 3 is expected to end in March 2016 which will lead to a final decision by Councilors.

The Save Civic Hall Group will advocate  on the full retention of the Civic Hall’s Main auditorium and the Lower Civic Hall.

The 10 Concepts can be viewed here and at the Civic Hall foyer:

Feedback can be given at the Open Door Studio in Foyer at the Civic Hall on :

Tuesdays:  9-5pm, Thursdays 12noon-7pm and the 1st Saturday of the Month 9am-1pm



This week is the last week of the People’s Hall Civic Hall Exhibition.  Much to see including art, photos, memorabilia, cartoons and newsreels.  Crowds have been pleasing  and there is still time to visit  until Sunday 21st June Hours are as follows:

When: Thursday – Sunday 12 Noon-4pm

Where: Backspace Gallery Camp St


To wind up a very successful  exhibition there will be free talks this Saturday 2oth June commencing at 2.00pm

Art Deco Talk by Robin Grow, President of The Art Deco and Modernism Society of Australia.  Robin will explain the significance of the Civic Hall and how it fits into the overall collection of Art Deco buildings in Ballarat. 


David Beames CEO of the Ballarat Cemetery Trust will talk about The Ballarat  Crematorium and its resemblance to the Civic Hall and the controversy surrounding its conception in the 1950’s. 


Come and visit the exhibition and enjoy the talks and chat over a free cup of tea or coffee…..guaranteed to be an interesting afternoon.   Bring a fiend or two..all welcome!!

The People’s Hall-Civic Hall Exhibition

The People’s Hall- Civic Hall….From early concepts to future possibilities

Where:         The Backspace Gallery- Camp Street Ballarat

When:           4th-21st June 2015.     12 Noon – 4pm  Thursday-Sunday

Entry:           FREE

Don’t miss this fabulous exhibition on everything Civic Hall related…from Artworks, photography and memorabilia to Cartoons and Costumes.  The Exhibition explores the Civic Hall’s  uses over the four decades that it served the community,  until its closure in 2002.   It is a factual exhibition that shows the reasons for its conception in the 1930’s to the  events and concerts that took place during its heyday and its eventual decline and debate over its future during the past decade.

There are many spectacular items…many never seen before.  The collection is sourced from institutions, community groups and individuals..each telling their own unique story and allowing for the  stripping back of the the many layers of Social and Architectural History to eventually  expose a magnificent tapestry of Local History.

Also join us for Saturday the 20th June for two fascinating talks at 2.00pm

Robin Grow of The Art Deco and Modernism Society of Australia

Learn about this popular Architectural style that is becoming more recognised and also extends to artworks and collectables.  How can we identify an Art Deco building by its features?  All will be revealed by Robin’s expertise and extensive knowledge of this architectural style and that of post WW2  modernist buildings

David Beames…CEO of The Ballarat Cemetery Trust

David will talk about the Crematorium that was designed by HL Coburn and son, the architect who designed the Civic Hall.  Little is known about this magnificent building and its similarity to Civic Hall.  We will also learn how the Cemetery Trust assists in research of family histories and history in general.

Look what was in Saturday’s edition of The Courier…..