Kicking it old school at the Rodeo Drive In is a must do trip down memory lane when visiting Mareeba.  You can share this nostlagic movie experience just like your parents and grandparents did and all at an affordable cost for families. We have driven past the sign so many times when exploring the Atherton Tablelands and always daydreamed of a night at the Drive In.

It was built in the 1960’s when Drive In Movies were the hip place to hang out and is currently family owned and operated. A double feature screens in digital format most Friday and Saturday nights with all the latest blockbusters and some old favs too. It’s an all original set up that feels like your have popped the lid on a time capsule. A big screen towers over the parking area and retro metal incased sound speakers mark the spaces plus a diner at the back for movie munchies. Overnight camping is now included in the ticket price which is a big bonus when you have the kids in tow and enjoy exploring.

We cruised through the gates about 4:30pm and the relaxed owner directed us to the back 3 lanes to set up our campers, there is also a grassed section if you have a tent.  We parked up parallel to the big screen between the speakers with our 4WD reversed up beside. Then all that was left to do was to pull out the awning, set up the camp chairs and deck out the back of the truck for the kids with a mattress, pillows, cosy blankets and a lantern for light.

As the daylight started to fade the headlights began to stream in. We watched as people got their setups sorted with all types of comfy paraphernalia including inflatable couches, sleeping bags and even a blow up raft…you can also bring your pooch! The Drive In was brought to life as the full house came together and soaked up the outdoor movie experience. The Diner opened up around 6pm with an affordable menu showcasing old time fast food favourites. We ordered up big with fresh burgers and hot dogs, french fries,  milkshakes and spiders, and the essential popcorn and choc tops…Yummy!!!!

The 1st movie is a family feature at 7:30pm and on cue the sky cleared to reveal the expansive stars that shine over the Atherton Tablelands. We kicked back in our PJ’s, got comfy and cracked open the maltesers. The sound was cinema quality through the portable speakers that you can hang on your car door or tune your radios into the FM frequency.  The movie marathon means the screen lights up till late so the intermission was a welcomed break. Giving us enough time to tuck the little ones into bed,  stock up on popcorn and espresso coffee and get settled back in for round 2. As the credits rolled on the final film the car park emptied quickly and before long we were Stranded at the Drive In (sorry Grease fan alert!!)

Nestled between other camping families we slept cosy and safely and woke in the morning to the sounds of farm animals and the sight of  Hot Air Balloons gliding through the misty sky across the back paddocks. Thank you Mr Rooster for your rise and shine alarm call…NOT! The bathrooms remain open all night but its lights out when the gates close so pack your torches.

Our first visit to the Drive In movies was a shared family entertainment experience packed with a yesteryear vibe. The free camping made it a relaxing adventure that didn’t break the bank with the bonus of being not far from home. It’s a retro must do for any tropical tribe or traveling family!

Tahli’s fav part: snuggled up in the back of the truck under the stars

Milla loved: the popcorn and lollies..surprise surprise

Booking Info:

Online movie program

Gates open at 4:30pm for campers & from 6pm for cars

Tickets at the gate

No BYO food or drinks

What to pack:

Get cosy in the back of your car with pillows & blankets

Your unpowered camping kit

Breakfast supplies

Torches for midnight bathroom trips

The Purse Strings:

Tickets are $14 for Adults, $12 Concessions & $8 for Children – under 4’s are FREE

FREE Camping

Diner Menu includes meals deals from $10 and a $5 popcorn deal

Want to explore further:

Mareeba Historical Museum

Skybury Tropical Plantation

Emerald Creek Waterfalls

Emerald Creek Ice Creamery

Map it out:

5303 Kennedy Hwy, Mareeba QLD 4880

Competition Time:

Thanks to the Mareeba Rodeo Drive In we have 2 adult tickets to giveaway. Check out our Facebook page for all the competition details. Entries close Thursday 29th June at 5pm 

Have you been to the Drive In before? Share your experience with us and others in the comments or share this blog post to inspire your posse to check it out!