No encore for Busselton drives
Ron Jones, end of an era in Busselton: Picture: Becky Felstead/The West Australian

One of WA's last remaining drive-in cinemas is preparing for its final screening before mak- ing way for a residential development.

The family-owned Busselton Drive-In has been a South West landmark for 53 years.

But co-owner Ron Jones said the drive-in, on a 4ha site on Bussell Highway, was becoming less viable because of the competitive tourism market and the digitisation of the film exhibition business which had left the film- dependent cinema with limited access to new movies.

"Busselton is the events capital of regional WA and it's difficult to compete against all those other attractions," Mr Jones said.

"Another big factor will be how long we can still access film prints. We live in a digital age and if you are a digital operator you can get movies earlier but there are very few film cinemas anymore."

Ron Jones' Busselton Drive in Cinema will close its doors in April. Picture: Becky felstead/The West Australian

Public comments closed on Wednesday for the first stage of the rezoning application for the site and the Department of Environment will make a decision by January 22 about whether a more thorough Federal assessment is needed.

The City of Busselton has agreed to accept the application for the site so that it could be used for residential or equivalent purposes that reflect surrounding land uses.

The drive-in has a 200-car capacity and the land has been owned by two generations of the Jones family.

Mr Jones said the rezoning application was in its early stages and the drive-in would continue to operate during the process, provided he could still get access to film prints.

The potential closure of the drive-in would leave just four country drive-ins at Koorda, Mukinbudin, Port Denison and Tom Price, which are run with the support of local councils.

In Perth, only the Galaxy Drive-In at Kingsley, which converted to digital several years ago, still operates.

The West Australian

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