“...the Zamia became the centre of everything - there were school concerts, youth clubs, films, social events, dancing and performances; life revolved around it,” said Eve Curtis
The splendid building, nowadays known as the Zamia Theatre, is an integral part of Tamborine Mountain and has been the pioneer of social entertainment for residents and tourists alike.
It commenced its life in November 1923 as the North Tamborine Public Hall when local residents realised the need for a social venue and formed the North Tamborine Public Hall Company.
As the Beaudesert Times reported at the time, “Visitors to Tamborine Mountain are impressed by the rapid progress of the North end of Tamborine Mountain, that the residents have every faith in this end of the mountain is proved by the fact that they have built a fine new public hall, a splendid building that compares favourably with any hall in outside cities.”
“The main hall is 50ft by 30ft with large cloak rooms and porch, the floor is specially selected timber, ideal for dancing.”
In his book ‘Mountain Memories’, Paul L. Lyons wrote, “Before this time most dances and special occasions were held at the “Curtis Barn”, a large shed on the Curtis family property by the creek in Curtis Road or other small halls which were no more than garages such as Ernie Richer’s in Eagle Heights.
“Now the North End could host functions in their own magnificent hall.”
Silent movies were one of the first forms of entertainment to be shown at the venue; provided and screened by Mr Sam Coleman with accompanying music by Colin Geissman, who sat on stage playing piano rolls on the Pianola.
During the war years, there were plenty of dances and socials which were run by the Red Cross and the Comforts Fund to raise funds for goods to be sent to the young soldiers fighting overseas.
The building was soon renamed the Zamia Theatre after the local cycad, the Lepidozamia, which is found in many of Tamborine Mountain’s national parks and specifically in Zamia Park on Main Western Road.
“The usual dances and movies were continued now in peace time and, with the boys home from service, life gradually returned to normal, and the ‘50s were soon on us,” wrote Lyons.
Historian and Author of ‘The Turning Years: A Tamborine Mountain History’, Eve Curtis, said the theatre was sold again in the ‘60s to the Howard family who put it up for sale again in 1971.
“A developer wanted to knock the building down to build shops and other commercial infrastructure however the Progress Association purchased the theatre and restored and managed the building,” she said.
“In 1988, the Progress Association formed the Tamborine Mountain Rainforest Trust and within the next few years the Zamia and Tamborine Mountain News was managed by the Trust.”
In roughly 2004, the upkeep of the venue became too much for the Progress Association due to new Health and Safety Regulations so the Beaudesert Shire Council did an exchange with the Tamborine Mountain Rainforest Trust.
“The Trust was given one block of forested land at Eagle Heights and another at North Tamborine in exchange for the Zamia Theatre,” said Eve.
Through the Q150 Community Funding Program Grant, the Federal and State government with support from the Scenic Rim Regional Council funded the final restoration of the theatre.
“In the early years, there was no community centre so the Zamia became the centre of everything - there were school concerts, youth clubs, films, social events, dancing and performances; life revolved around it,” said Eve.
And if the string of successful events in recent weeks is anything to go by, it seems not much has changed.
Lyons, Paul L. 2009. Mountain Memories. 2009 ed. Tamborine Mountain: Tamborine Mountain Historical Society Inc.