Frankston Drive-In

Frankston Drive-In (Skye Road) was a legend. It operated for 33 years,opening in 1956 & finally closed in 1989.

Frankston Drive-Inn (1970’s)

It was built and operated by Sir Frank Selleck, the former Melbourne Lord Mayor. In the 1960’s it was programmed by Hoyts and advertised in their newspaper directory. Village eventually became partners in the operation and by 1984 the site was twinned.

The speakers were attached to metal posts (2 per post) & you hung it inside the drivers window. It was not uncommon for these to be faulty, so you had to test them out before settling in your parking bay. In later years the sound system was a little more sophisticated with clamps on your aerial, which played the movie sound through your radio.

I recall visits to the drive-in during both summer & winter months. In summer, all the windows were open & you desperately hoped for a cool breeze . Lots of folk watched the movie from the bonnet of their car during those balmy evenings. During winter all the windows were shut & my dad even turned the engine on to run the car heater for a few minutes every now and then.

I was all rugged up in the back seat in my pjamas with my blanket & pillow. I rarely recall staying awake long enough to see the end of the movie.

The Cafeteria was full of people prior to the movie starting,as many came early & had dinner first. It was self-serve, so you pushed your tray along, helped yourself  & paid the cashier at the end. The floor was linoleum & the chairs were bright orange vinyl (very stylish for the 70’s). You could eat in or take your food  back to your car. In winter the hot food inevitably lead to the windows fogging up & I can see mum with her hanky desperately trying to demist in time for the movie. Hamburgers, hot dogs & chips were standard fare with an obligatory chocolate coated(Jumbo) ice cream cone at interval coupled with a long wait in the queue for the toilets!


Hundreds of movies were shown over the years, with memorable ones (for me) being “Herbie Rides Again” which was the big Boxing Day attraction in the late 1970’s, “Fiddler on the Roof”, “Jaws” & ” One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”.

1970’s Speaker

17 Replies to “Frankston Drive-In”

  1. I lived walking distance from the Drive In. It faced the wrong way or I could have had the biggest wide screen TV around. Haha. Being too young to drive I had to either go with family or friends but when I wanted to desperately see ‘To Sir With Love’, I walked there and sat outside the canteen, freezing to death.
    Sometimes going with friends we used to try and sneak in as many people as possible without paying for them. We’d be in the boot or squashed on the floor with feet and rugs thrown over us. Panel vans or combi vans could hide a couple of freeloaders if you were careful not to move a muscle whilst the vehicle got checked over. Mind you, it was still sort of fun when we got caught, bragging rights.

  2. Wow I used to live up the road from the drive in, there used to be a tree at the front that had school chairs wedged in the branches and speaker that someone extended to cable. Long been redeveloped unfortunately.

  3. My mother worked in the cafeteria when the drive in opened
    (name was Molly)
    And a usual nightly chore for the staff was to get the ‘steamed windows ‘cars to go home or where ever…..!!
    even been known that glove box trapped feet was an issue for some occupants Lol
    The drive in manager later managed the cinema complex in Frankston ( Mr Worland I think his name)
    I also remember sitting on the mudguard (remember those) directing dad which way to steer in the heavy
    fog that Frankston was ( maybe still is??) prone too to get home

  4. I remember the last movie I saw there was Footrot Flats and I think that was about 1986. Going to the drive was always a fun night out and much better than going to the Frankston cinema’s where the atmosphere was never the same as the drive in.

  5. I spent a short time as a assistant projectionist when dil dug up do,e of the speaker runs near the office.

  6. Hello all I lived up the road my name is Debbie arrowsmith
    My uncle worked at the drive in for 20 or more years
    His name is bill Barnes he lives in up north
    I could get some contact details if you want or may be he’s on face book he would be about 77 now

  7. Hi there,

    I’m a journalist looking for staff who used to work at the Frankston Drive in. Would love to chat to you if you did. My number is (03) 9420 3373. Cheers.

  8. I had a lovely girlfriend who used to have to be home before the movie finished soooo….. I’d take her home and drive back into the drive-in (through the exit gate with my lights off mind you) and watch the rest of the movie. 😉

    But, wayyy before that my folks used to take me to the Frankston drive-in (in my pyjamas) to watch nice family movies, (like what’s up with the film industry today that their screwed up moral code prevents them from producing stuff that a family can go and watch? Ah, I guess some of the animations would be good, Pixar etc.)

    One night my dad took me to see Jaws. Never mind that that caused me to fear water forever, when we got home our labrador, Sophie, had had a litter of little puppies.

    Gosh, I remember once going with my older sister and her then boyfriend and all his mates had their 4wd’s, cb’s, beards and sideburns etc. Typical 70’s stuff. Me being much younger than them it was a big deal for me.

    Then, a few years later, wasn’t it cool meeting with friends and waiting for the sun to set so that the film could start!

    Hey, who fogged up the windows?….why is that car rocking? No, that’s not new millenium low rider suspension, it’s ‘dashboard light’ 70’s and 80’s foggy window soft suspension huggin’ and -lov’in- caught in timeless-at-the-time late night suspension.

    Wasn’t it amazing how well two people could fog up windows so fast!

    Some cars had fogged up windows and a frequent weird orange glow, kinda like an alien thing going on inside. (Certainly aliens would occasionally get out of those ones too???)

    Cold vinyl seats and blankets. Oh, a block of Cadbury’s and crisps.

    If this van’s rockin’, don’t bother knockin’.

    Packet of Peter Jacksons or ‘Winnie reds’. Toughies had Marlborough’s or Camel non-filters. No matches, don’t worry the car’s got a cigarette lighter, f–k it dropped onto the floor and melted a circle in the *vinyl floor*.

    Whoever rolled in with a V8, ‘drop pipes’ and a 3/4 cam was king of cool. Mate, where’d yah get ya Cragars from?

    Hey! Look at that knob with his cheapo fibre glass Transam front on his HZ van and ‘crushed
    veluer’ dash! Makes you want to pull the tape out of your cassette player and pull all the tape out of it in a 1980’s style hissy fit and throw it at him.

    Choke cam your way out of there after the film. (Cars used to have chokes, you pulled the choke out to enrichen the fuel mixture in the carbi. If you pulled it out too much the engine would run ‘lumpy’ hence your choke cam. get it. Lots of black smoke out the back of the car. 18 yo fun.)

    Hey! check that car boot, I’m sure there’s some 70’s or 80’s kids stuffed in there!

    Funny thing was, you could never explain what the film was about. 😉

    What a shame to loose such a local cultural icon! It was just such a good place.

  9. It’s a shame the Frankston drive in is gone. The last two movies i saw there was Platoon and Back to School about 1987.

  10. Got side-tracked, watching one of my favourite movies on TV; “To Sir with Love”
    I remember the first time I saw this movie @ Frankston Drive-In .

    1. Great movie. ‘Blackboard Jungle’ was good, too.

      Was it your olds who owned/managed the gem/mineral shop in F. ?

  11. Say, impressive photos! Where did you score them from?
    My 8 year old recently enjoyed a couple of Herbie films on DVD.

    Did you know the Dromana triple drive-in has been classified by the National Trust? The owners aren’t very happy about it, either…

    1. I remember you! We were in the same grade in Frankston East Primary. I can’t remember exactly which grade, sorry. My name used to be Jayne Yapp.

      1. Hi Jayne, I remember you too! I think it was grade 1 or even preps. I will check my school photos! Thanks for your comments!

      2. Hi, Jayne.
        I didn’t recognise “Jupp”, but, yes “Yapp” rings a bell.
        Wow! Amazing how people re-connect after all this time!

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