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Ballarat Civic Hall Turns 63

Hedley Thomson, as the 1956 Mayor Callow, cutting the 60th anniversary cake, watched by Vicki Maree Barnett (one of the duo Sister Sound, who will perform this year) and Funky Turtles. Photo submitted

You are invited to a morning tea celebration in the Civic Hall foyer at 10.30am on Tuesday 20 August to celebrate the 63rd anniversary of the grand old lady.

Entertainment will be provided by Sister Sound, a Victorian vocal duo consisting of Vickie-Maree Barnett and Michelle Fillmore. They perform blues, soul, folk and more, in true sister harmonies.
For over ten years supporters of the Civic Hall have celebrated the anniversary of its official opening on 20 August 1956 – usually with a grand cake. With the building closed in 2002, most celebrations were held outside. Regardless, well-known local musicians such as Azio and Mick Trembath donated their services to the Rock the Civic concerts on the front steps.

The turnaround was the 60th anniversary in 2016. There was still no admission, but then-Mayor Des Hudson in full regalia, and no less than three town criers recreated the event. Beaufort Brass led a march from Town Hall to Civic Hall and performed some of the same music, and actor Hedley Thompson delivered the original Mayor’s stirring, optimistic opening address.

This year Mayor Samantha McIntosh, a long-time advocate for restoration of the Civic Hall, will do the honours.

Long-time supporters, Save Civic Hall, tossed up whether to continue the practice now the hall is beautifully refurbished and open for all to enjoy. Perhaps the idea of another great cake was the deciding point!

Members of the group are now writing a book about the Civic Hall, and seeking more information, so people are asked to bring along their posters, tickets, photos or other memorabilia about the hall, which in its heyday was the centre of Ballarat’s social life.

Now restoration is almost complete, and there are plenty of bookings, the Civic Hall is again being called a cultural gem of Ballarat. Even larger celebrations are being planned for the future.