Venues: Change Of Owners, Comebacks, Name Issues, Fines & More

4 July 2024 | 11:46 am | Christie Eliezer

The Punters Club is back, Love Machine cops a $20,000 fine, SXSW Sydney wins a major award, and more: all the happenings in Australia's music industry.

Dope Lemon @ Metropolis Fremantle

Dope Lemon @ Metropolis Fremantle (Credit: Shaun Noonan)


Prince of Wales, Melbourne

Australian Venue Co (AVC) is acquiring the 162-year-old Prince of Wales, home of the music venue Prince Bandroom. AVC already owns another high-profile music mecca, the Esplanade, aka the Espy, around the corner.

The Ryan family, founders of Jayco Caravans, have operated it for the last 13 years. Andy Ryan said AVC “will take over our legacy and continue the tradition of true Prince hospitality, where all are welcome, whether the reason is a rock show, a celebration, or a pot of beer!”

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It’s not known how much money is changing hands. In 2015, Jackalope Group bought the Prince for $44.5 million. Last year they were asking $50 million, but the lacklustre market saw it dip to a $30 million asking price for the Fitzroy Street property.

AVC, which has 220 venues, snapped up the Espy as part of a 2022 buy-out of the Sand Hill Road group.

Ocean Beach Hotel, Shellharbour

The leasehold of the live music showcasing Ocean Beach Hotel in Shellharbour in the NSW Central Coast has gone to the Feros Group this week.

Feros’ other venues are noted for their support of live music. These include Prince Hotel (Kirrawee), Engadine Tavern, Highfield (Caringbah), Berry Hotel, Heathcote Hotel and the Taren Point Hotel.

The Ocean Beach Hotel’s leasehold previously belonged to HTL Property.

Woolshed on Hindley, Black Bull, Adelaide

The Advertiser reported that the recent sale of Woolshed on Hindley and Black Bull in Adelaide is being investigated.

Liquidators were called in to wind up the two companies—94 Hindley Trading Pty Ltd and 58 Hindley Trading Pty Ltd, both run by high-profile live music and nightclub operator David O’Connell—that had run the two venues before they were transferred to new owners. They continue to operate.

The companies owed the Australian Tax Office a combined $1 million. Liquidator Liam Bellamy from RRI Advisory, after a meeting on June 24, said in a report he was investigating the sale of the venues, and if they had been sold at “a fair market value”.

Last October, Woolshed on Hindley was fined $3,897 by South Australia's Consumer and Business Services for a campaign that offered customers free drinks if they removed their bras.

Lansdowne Hotel, Sydney

Word has come through that an unidentified private investor bought one-time rock mecca The Lansdowne Hotel for about $19 million. The Chippendale venue was listed for $25 million last July. Whether live music plays a part under the new regime remains to be seen.

Sideway Becomes Shadow, Canberra

Tim Brown, Nick Smith and Finbar Pearson closed Sideway in Civic, Canberra, after five and a half years in mid-June. But new owner Andrew Heaney has swooped on the building and continued live music under the name Shadows.


Rachel Healy New CEO For QPAC

Rachel Healy takes over officially on December 11 for a five year term as new CEO of the Queensland Performing Arts Centre (QPAC) in Brisbane. 

She comes abroad as QPAC celebrates its 40th birthday next year, alongside the opening of a new 1500-seat theatre, its fifth venue, which will make the precinct the largest performing arts centre in Australia. 

With the cost blown out to $175 million—originally to be opened in 2022, the project faced sub-contractors going under, flooding and supply issues. When finished, it is expected to have an extra 260 performances and 300,000 annual visitors.

Currently based in Sydney, Healy held senior roles at the Sydney Opera House, Adelaide Festival, and Vivid and served on more than 30 arts boards and government and industry advisory bodies. She was also the Executive Manager of Culture for the City of Sydney.

“I could not be more delighted about the prospect of a move to Brisbane,” she said. “The sheer number of extraordinary artists and cultural leaders Queensland produces is remarkable, and it feels that the city’s ambition, civic pride and sense of purpose has accelerated.”

Her predecessor, John Kotzas, wanted to spend more time with his family after a 15-year stint leading QPAC.

Rhys Holden Top Roles At Geelong Arts Centre

The State Government-run Geelong Arts Centre in Victoria appointed Rhys Holden as its new Chief Executive and Creative Director, effective July. 

With a reputation for driving growth and innovation, he was most recently GM at Mona Foma and Mona Music in Tasmania. He also produced shows for the Michael Cassel Group and was General Manager and Executive Producer of La Boite Theatre Company and Roundhouse Theatre.


Chinese Laundry, Sydney

One-time EDM mecca Chinese Laundry returned last week after a four-year hiatus, complete with state-of-the-art Martin Audio systems, revamped DJ booths, minimalist lighting, and rave rooms. 

The club’s Slip Inn location hosted legendary underground parties in the ‘60s. In 1996, then-24-year-old Justin Hemmes took the reins and took in the EDM scene, showcasing Sasha, Jeff Mills, Goldie, and the emerging Flume and Dom Dolla.

Hemmes appointed Nergal Youkhana of the Melbourne Sub Club to curate the rebooted venue.

Metropolis Fremantle

After time off for renovations, NightOwl Entertainment brought Metropolis Fremantle back with rebuilt downstairs bars, two new booth seating areas, a new retro room, replaced flooring and additional lighting installation alongside the purple-lit bar and overhead speaker system.

Punters Club, Melbourne

As reported this week, The Punters Club in Fitzroy, Melbourne, is being restored to its former glory. It closed in 2002 due to rising rents and will reopen in weeks under new owners. 

On social media, some of the old patrons recollected the time Weddings Parties Anything played an eight-hour set there.

AIS Arena, Canberra

After being dark for four years, Canberra’s 4,800-seat indoor sports and concerts AIS Arena returned after a $15 million upgrade.

It has new seating and climate control and upgraded lighting and audio. Australian Sports Commission CEO Kieren Perkins confirmed that continuing to attract major concert names was a priority.

Lion’s Den, Cooktown

After devastation during the Annan River flooding during Tropical Cyclone Jasper in December, Lion’s Den returned after a $1 million makeover.

Waters rose to ceiling level and 13 members of staff had to be rescued by chopper.


The City of Parramatta (Sydney) is considering the possibility of a Special Entertainment Precinct around Parramatta Square and Church Street's Eat Street precinct.

Among those which gave Parramatta its entertainment reputation were The General Bourke, The Commercial, The Albion, Riverside Theatres, The Winston, Club Parramatta, Alex&Co, Parramatta Park, ANZ Stadium, CommBank Stadium and Qudos Bank Arena.

The Special Entertainment Precinct idea came after the council approved Late Night Trading development controls, which made it quicker for businesses to run 24 hours or extend their trading hours.

Lord Mayor Pierre Esber said: "It's all part of our vision to see Parramatta on the same global stage as New York, Paris and London."


The Gold Coast nightclub industry has teamed up to criticise a $3 drinks offer by a nightclub, citing safety concerns. Fabric on the Orchid Ave strip offered $3 drinks until 10 pm.

Security teams called it a “terrible idea” as it would encourage people to drink heavily. In the first six months of 2024, there were 269 assaults on the Surfers Paradise nightclub strip.

The Surfers Paradise Licensed Venues Association (SPLVA) and Safe Night Precinct (SNP) want to meet with the Office of Liquor and Gaming Regulation.

The SPLVA is also meeting with the council to discuss the possibility of more concerts and events during the quieter winter months. It argues that Fisher’s Out2Lunch rave on Coolangatta Beach, which drew 30,000, was a $50 million boost to businesses in surrounding areas.


The Love Machine in Prahran, Melbourne, was fined $20,000 by the Victorian Liquor Commission (VLC) and warned harder sanctions would follow if there were any more breaches of licensing conditions.

Among the slap-downs for the nightclub was hosting a live music event in June 2020 during the COVID lockdown, and an unconscious man was found unconscious in the staff room.

The venue made the headlines when six bullets were fired at a queue outside the club in April 2019. A security guard and patron died, and four others were injured. Two men, 18 and 22, were sentenced to life as a result.

Dhir Kakar, the sole director of holding company Sterling Nightclubs Pty Ltd, told the VLC at a hearing last December that he had changed the club’s management and security. 

Detective Inspector Andrew Stamper testified the new management worked closely with police, and their relationship was “very good.” It had introduced new safety measures, and its management of patrons waiting outside “was better than any other venue in the area.”

Love Machine also had to introduce a gender-based violence program.


CLBR Music Management was appointed programmer of Volta, a major music venue in Ballarat, Victoria. Volta, launched in February 2020 on the site of the Karova Lounge, showcases local and touring acts.


Hotel Steyne in Manly, Sydney, which brought live music back in 2022, has been granted permission to make $8 million of renovations.

Property billionaire Sam Arnaout’s Iris Capital changes include soundproofing the beer garden where live acts play, the return of its round bar and two new bars.

One-time panel beater Sam Arnaout bought the Steyne in 2019 for a record $65 million.


One, Two, Many Jolenes

Lucille and Simon Rose-Hopkins, owners of  CBD country music & whisky bar Jolene’s in Sydney complained to the Daily Telegraph of patron confusion since November’s country music festival Ridin Hearts named one of their VIP bars Jolene’s Diamond Club.

It offers goodies like merch, exclusives, pamper spaces, premium toilets, express bar lines, and queue priority, and the York Street club says people who bought the Diamond tickets have turned up asking for the items. The couple emphasised that they have “no affiliation or involvement” with Ridin Hearts.

Strand Bar Emphasises Water Views

Kickon Group, the new owner of The Strand’s Anelay Rooftop Bar and Restaurant in Townsville, changed the name to The Beach Hotel in July to emphasise the venue’s waterfront views.

Venue GM Bart Furst said there’d been a renovation and live weekly entertainment would continue.

Station Hops Tracks To Entertainment

The heritage Yeppoon Railway Station in North Queensland, decommissioned in 2004, has become a family-friendly entertainment venue called The Station 4703. Live music is part of the program. Limestone Pacific operates the venue, which is managed by Dean Furber.


SXSW Sydney Takes Top Award

SXSW Sydney took out the Major Event or Festival of the Year category in last month’s Meetings & Events Australia (MEA) awards held in NSW’s Hunter Valley. Last year, its inaugural year, it drew 287,014 visitors (or 97,462 unique), sold 34,975 tickets, and 758 global media/press with 1,178 events and 41 countries represented.

Among the 30 winners were Sydney Showground (an event venue with over 1,000 capacity) for delivering 250 events for the second time in a row, AV1 for audiovisual services, and River Riffs for special events.

Kirra Beach Hotel Bids For Longer Hours

The Kirra Beach Hotel on the Gold Coast’s Marine Parade, which features live acts in its beer garden on the weekends, has applied to trade from midnight to 2 am. It would fall in line with other venues in the area, publican Greg Hodge said.

However, some residents, banding under the name Save Our Southern Gold Coast, have protested, saying they don’t want the area to “become Surfers Paradise.”

VenuesLive Expands Footprint In NSW

Management company VenuesLive expands its footprint on the NSW Central Coast, with its catering and hospitality division, VL Catering, signing on for the 20,059-seat sports and entertainment Industree Group Stadium in Gosford.