Venue News: Sydney Set For Boom, Five More Closures, Name Change & More

3 June 2024 | 12:15 pm | Christie Eliezer

Sydney’s venue scene is about to explode, while Melbourne's has generated close to $1 billion in revenue.

Fred again.. at the Hordern Pavilion, Sydney

Fred again.. at the Hordern Pavilion, Sydney (Credit: Jordan Munns)


With the NSW Government’s first live music census, The State Of The Scene, set to see light of day, Sydney’s venue scene is about to explode. has so far reported on how the Hopetoun Hotel might return after a 15-year sleep, the arrival of the 500-capacity venue The Whalers in North Shore’s Mosman, and the opening of Century Venues’ purpose-built venue The Lounge in Chatswood.

Look out for updates for the following:

White Bay Power Station

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The White Bay Power Station in Rozelle, dilapidated since its 1984 decommission, looks like it may become a significant concert venue and be part of a special entertainment precinct. Inner West Council unanimously voted for it, and Mayor Darcy Byrne wrote to Minister for Arts, Music and Night-Time Economy John Graham urging him to hurry it up so it can be used from this year.

Byrne said the ex-power station “can become the new jewel in Sydney’s cultural crown, providing a unique venue for musicians and performers from across Australia and the world”. The many large spaces in the facility means use for a variety of entertainment, including theatre, dance, exhibitions and interactive exhibitions, as well as rehearsals and production.

Byrne, a renowned music tragic, remarked, “It would be so good to see Jimmy Barnes belting out Working Class Man in the same space where generations of power workers toiled.” After $100 million was used to restore the station and get rid of asbestos, lead dust and bird shit, it began to be used in March as an arts venue for the 25th Biennale of Sydney.

Tumbalong Sound Shell

The NSW Government’s tart-up of Darling Harbour includes the Tumbalong Sound Shell, a huge concert and sports venue in Tumbalong Park.

With a $10 million investment from Placemaking NSW, it has two nine-by-five-metre digital screens, permanent speakers and acoustic panelling. Minister for Planning and Public Spaces Paul Scully referred to it as “Sydney’s first major purpose-built, live outdoor cultural venue in the heart of the city... destined to become an iconic landmark.”

Entertainment Quarter, Moore Park

Carsingha Investments, owner of the Entertainment Quarter in Moore Park, is waiting for City of Sydney to assess its plans to hold more events in part of the precinct. The ambitious plan is for one-off events including concerts, DJ sets and buskers for up to 8,000 people between 7am and midnight every day of the year. These include exhibitions, food trucks, community markets and cultural events.

Feedback from nearby residents expressed concern about traffic, noise, anti-social and wellbeing issues.

Cargo Bar

Sydney celeb nightclub Cargo Bar on King Street Wharf re-opened after a five month multi-million dollar makeover. The new look was inspired by the sleek grey tones of the New York waterfront. Owner Australian Venue Co, which bought it in 2016, plans to build on the nightclub but also expanding to other events, as patrons are returning from Kings Cross to the wharf.

The revamp included state of the art lighting and sound systems, a luxe VIP area, more dining spaces and a revamped al fresco beer garden.

Penrith Stadium

After releasing draft plans in January, the NSW Government opened Expressions of Interest for a partner to transform Penrith Stadium into a hottie sporting and entertainment precinct for Sydney’s west. For concert attendees, there would be a new 25,000 capacity, steeper seats for better views, upgraded sound and lighting, and more food outlets. It will be operated by Venues NSW.

Parramatta Riverside

The $188 million build-up of the Riverside Theatres at western Sydney’s Parramatta into a state-of-the-art cultural precinct, has taken a step forward with a new design unveiled in May. A collaboration between the State Government and City of Parramatta, it will include what it calls a 1,500-seat “Broadway-style lyric theatre” to bring big musical productions to the area.

There’s also a refurbished 760-seat Riverside playhouse theatre, a new 424-seat black-box drama theatre, a new 88-seat digital studio and cinema, two production rehearsal spaces, a refurbished back of house, technical and performer spaces,  “state-of-the-art technical specifications for all venues” and a new café.


Entertainment entrepreneurs Wayne Rogers and business partner James Hingston, who bought Lizotte’s in Newcastle last November, have changed the venue’s name to Flamingos Live. It came into effect last week with the production of Pure Imagination, whose cast included Rogers. “Music continues to live on in this beautiful theatre for the next chapter,” they said.


More venues took the hard decision of pulling down the shutters in the current pinch.

The Carringbush, Melbourne

It was last drinks at The Carringbush in Abbotsford, Melbourne, Sunday June 2, after five-and-a-half-years. Joel Morrison, Singajaya Unlayati and Lame Matthews, who turned it into an everybody-knows-your-name space, told punters, “We decided to go out on a high.”

Bakers Lane, Launceston

Launceston’s Bakers Lane nightclub closed abruptly after ten years. Its operators attributed it to COVID’s long tail, mounting overheads and the city’s dwindling nightclub scene, saying, “It was time to move on, and not renew the lease.”

My Lover Cindi, Adelaide

Adelaide queer bar My Lover Cindi on Pirie St wound down with parties on May 31 and June 1. Rachel Hosking and Kate Toone posted, “The simple answer is that maintaining the exorbitant costs of a night-time venue has been near impossible for the whole three years and finally at this point we can no longer continue.”

Pistol Pete’s Food N Blues, Geelong

After ten years of bringing US southern music and food to Geelong’s Little Malop St, Pete and Kerri Raimondo will close up shop on June 30. “We have tried our best to work through the many challenges that have landed on our doorstep, with a positive attitude and a smile on our faces,” they said.

Deck Bar, Darwin

After 14 years, NT hospitality figure Jason Hanna will turn off the juice in mid-June at Deck Bar while focussing on three other venues. No specific reason was given. But we’re guessing the fact that being burgled by three different groups for booze in a 72 hour period over last Christmas broke the camel’s back.

In The Meantime…

The $50,000 crowdfunding campaign by South Brisbane’s It's Still A Secret and sibling Can You Keep A Secret in Woolloongabba is almost halfway to its target. Owner operator Emily Dennis said, “Things are grim,” and called on Government help.

The Adelaide Advertiser reported that Brettski Stewart and Ian Stewart of The Austral in the CBD applied to the District Court to settle a lease dispute with their landlord. After spending $400,000 in renovations in 2020, the cousins applied last year to extend their five year lease. But the landlord claimed not to receive it, and they might not be able to stay on.


After spruiking the idea last year, City of Gold Coast allocated $200,000 to prepare a business case for a Town Hall-style live music venue at the Surfers Paradise Transit Centre site, which would accommodate 2,500 patrons.

Behind closed doors, councillors have chosen Southport as preferred site for the new 10,000-to-12,000-seat boutique indoor stadium. No idea when the decision will be made official. But rumours three months ago that  Broadbeach Cultural Precinct was in the loop were denied.


Tim Worton, Group Director of Arenas for ASM Global (APAC), is leaving the business after 33 years. Next year he is studying theology to work in a pastoral, chaplaincy or ministry role.

Brenna Hobson is new Director of Programming at Sydney Opera House, effective July. She returns from Scotland where she is Executive Director of the National Theatre.

Arts Centre Melbourne’s new Executive Director, Development, Alisia Romanin, from La Trobe University, starts her new role in July.

Tom Kimball, GM of Townsville’s Queensland Country Bank Stadium, is leaving after four years to move to Melbourne.

City Recital Hall’s new CEO is Kate Wickett, former CEO of Sydney WorldPride.


Plans for Manly Town Hall in Sydney to become a 350-seat music and performance art venue with a cinema and roof bar, have been abandoned. Local council did the sums and thought it financially not viable.


In the Northern Territory hospitality industry awards for excellence, Best Late Night Venue was Monsoons, Best Live Music Venue gong went to Mayberry, and band showcasing Dundee Beach Tavern took Best New Venue.


Perth-based entertainment and sporting venues operator VenuesWest is inviting Expressions of Interest for the naming rights for the HBF Arena in Joondalup and the HBF Stadium in Mount Claremont, and the Main Arena at HBF Stadium.


A study found that the Melbourne & Olympic Parks entertainment and sports precinct – which includes Rod Laver Arena and Margaret Court Arena, AAMI Park and Centrepiece – drew a record two million people to 398 events (not including the Australian Open tennis event) in 2022-23.

Aside from blockbusters like Elton John, these included concerts by acts from Greece, Italy, India, China and Korea, comedy and family events. The diversity of content attracted audiences from beyond Melbourne, with 626,000 from outside the city, and 699,000 bed nights booked by interstate and international visitors. The local economy was also a beneficiary, with an estimated visitor spend of up to $743 million injected straight back into local businesses.

M&OP activities contributed nine percent ($1.3 billion) of the $15.6 billion live entertainment industry, and a six percent share ($822 million) of the $14 billion sports industry. The precinct also supported over 5,800 jobs in 2022–23.