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Map showing Prince of Wales Opera House

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The Prince of Wales Opera House, like many buildings in Gulgong, has a long history on its site (F7 on the Gulgong Walks map). It began as a music hall, built from bush timber and bark, in the early 1870s.

The riches of the goldfields allowed an early impresario to engage some of the most famous performers of the era, and to employ an experienced manager. Before long a large weatherboard theatre was built, and named the Prince of Wales Opera House. Those times were captured by Henry Lawson, whose first visit to any theatre was to see ’The Pirates of Penzance’ at the Prince of Wales Opera House. In The Last Review he recalled,

Rough-built theatres and stages where the world’s best actors trod, Singers bringing reckless rovers nearer boyhood, home and God, Paid in laughter, tears and nuggets in the drama fortune plays, ‘Tis the palmy days of Gulgong - Gulgong in the Roaring Days.

When the gold rush ended, Gulgong’s much smaller community made good use of the Opera House. As early as 1881 the Gulgong Amateur Dramatic Club presented music and drama, and through the first half of the 20th century the theatre was a cinema, renamed the Roxy. During those years the building was reconstructed in brick, while retaining - remarkably - the iron roof which had covered the weatherboard structure.

The theatre closed in the 1960s, as people turned to television, and it could well have been demolished. In 1974, however, the Gulgong Musical and Dramatic Society was re-established and a community appeal enabled it to buy the building.

Gulgong MADS presents several performances a year in the Opera House, and there are regular appearances by such famous artists as Roger Woodward and James Morrison.

Details and times of guided tours of the Prince of Wales Opera House can be found in notices at the front of the building.

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