Discover the magic of the drive in movie at Heddon Greta Drive In! Pack up the kids and the car, grab some blankets and your favourite movie night snacks! You won’t need a time-machine to enjoy the drive in movie experience (although you will feel like you’ve stepped back in time), just a set of wheels and a few supplies.
May 29 Update: Heddon Greta Drive In reopened Friday 29 May. However, there are special conditions of entry. Ticket sales are ONLINE only through the website. You cannot buy tickets at the gate. They will be running SINGLE SESSIONS ONLY. All cars MUST LEAVE at the end of each session. Toilets have limited capacity and patrons are asked to maintain 1.5 metres social distancing at all times. If you are unwell or have cold or flu-like symptoms, please STAY HOME.
Where is the Heddon Greta Drive In?
Located 40 minutes outside of Newcastle, the Heddon Greta Drive In is the perfect mix of nostalgia and fun, offering a unique way to go to the movies. Plus with only three drive ins left operating in New South Wales we are incredibly lucky to have one right on our doorstep.
When is the Heddon Greta Drive In open?
Heddon Greta Drive In is open every Friday and Saturday night plus every night of the week during the school holidays. It opened in 1967 before closing in 1984 where sat neglected for years until it was re-opened in 1997 by Scott Sneddon (who most Novocastrians will recognise as the ‘voice’ of the drive in – ‘If you don’t like the movie you can slash the seats!’)
What do I need to bring to Heddon Greta Drive In?
Whether you choose to snuggle in the car, bring the couch in the ute tray, jump onto the beanbag or lay a picnic blanket outside the car, you’re sure to find a way to get comfy and enjoy a film (or two) at the drive in. We cleared out the boot of our car and filled it with blankets and pillows for the kids, chucked in a couple of camping chairs for us and packed the esky for a night under the stars.
Because it can get quite cool, definitely pack warm clothing and blankets – we attended on a warm summer evening and still needed blankets and jumpers to keep us cosy in the chilly night air.
How much is Heddon Greta Drive In?
It screens the latest mainstream movies, with two or three films screening each session (depending on Daylight Savings) and there is usually a family-friendly film on offer. It’s terrific value for a family as the price is set per vehicle based on the number of films you’d like to watch. We chose to watch one film as we didn’t want a late finish, and it cost $30, less than it would for our family to attend the cinema.
(If you attend two consecutive sessions, it costs $50 per car or $70 per car for three consecutive sessions). COVID-19 Protocols mean only single sessions available
Unlike the regular cinema experience, you can also BYO food and snacks – we spotted families enjoying pizza and other fast food takeaway they had bought with them. If you don’t want to pack a picnic, there is a kiosk and restaurant on-site. It sells all of your favourite cinema foods: choc-tops, soft drinks, lollies and popcorn (so much popcorn!) or if you need dinner, you can grab something more substantial like a burger, chips or hotdogs. (Due to COVID-19 regulations, the restaurant building has a maximum occupancy. If you require any food which will need to be cooked, you’ll need to leave your mobile number and return to your car instead of loitering. Staff will phone you when it is time to collect your order.)
The kiosk prices are very reasonable (we didn’t have to take out a small bank loan just to afford popcorn, like we do at the movies) and the service was great. The staff kept the line moving quickly, but it can get quite busy during intermission, so stock up early if you can.
We had a great time at the drive in and would definitely recommend it for families. Unlike the cinema, you can get up and move around, so it’s perfect for restless little ones plus the bigger kids will love the nostalgia factor and novelty of the big screen.
Heddon Greta Drive In has lots of what you expect from a trip to the movies, including a fully stocked candy bar, cartons of popcorn bigger than your head and the latest releases on the big screen. It’s not super fancy – but if you wanted a luxurious trip to the movies with all the trimmings and comforts you’d go to Gold Class.
The attraction of the drive in is that it is good clean fun (with a pinch of nostalgia), a great way to spend time together as a family and really great value.
Getting there: Jump on the Hunter Expressway (M15) and take the ‘Main Road’ Kurri Kurri/Maitland/Cessnock exit. Once you’re in Heddon Greta, the drive in is located to the left off Heddon Street – look out for the retro drive in sign in the front yard of a house that marks the turn off.
Hot tip: You’ll need an FM radio to hear the film audio, so if you plan on sitting outside of the car, or if your car radio is unreliable (or regularly shuts down), take along a portable FM radio. Make sure it has reliable batteries (or pack some spares).
Good to know: Gates open 30 minutes before the first movie (and 5-10 minutes before subsequent movies). Get there early to secure a good spot. The first four rows are reserved for low vehicles, so if you have a 4WD, wagon or hatch, or if you plan on leaving the boot open, you must park from row 5 onwards. The staff are really helpful and are on hand to guide you to the best spot.
A little bit of history: Until the mid-80s, our area was also home to drive ins in Lambton, Rutherford and Gateshead. At the height of their popularity, in the 1950s, Newcastle Council approved plans to open a drive in in Kotara on what is now the site of Westfield, but it was never built.
For more information, including session times, directions and pricing, visit the Heddon Greta Drive In website.
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A born and bred Novocastrian, Kim loves exploring the area and finding fun things to see and do with her family. When she’s not out having adventures with her two cheeky boys, she’ll usually be found working her day job as a public servant, or banging on about her kid’s school (she handles communications for the Parents & Citizens Association). Kim is a self-confessed word nerd, 90s music tragic and hopes to be a writer when she grows up (whenever that will be).