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The Quarry Amphitheatre is now a popular outdoor venue for concerts and other stage productions.
The Quarry Amphitheatre is now a popular outdoor venue for concerts and other stage productions.

Limestone quarry’s second life

A former quarry that is now used for performing arts and other local events once played a prominent role in the development of a major Australian city.

The Quarry Amphitheatre, located in City Beach, Western Australia, is said to be one of Perth’s premier outdoor performance venues, hosting events such as concerts, dance productions and Christmas and New Year’s Eve community celebrations.

However, Heritage Perth executive director Richard Offen told 720 ABC Perth that the site had held significance within the region long before the amphitheatre was launched in 1986.

“It was one of the first limestone quarries at the very beginning of the Swan River colony,” Offen was quoted as saying. “Not only was this limestone used as building blocks, but broken down into its constituent chemicals it makes very important products for use in the building industry.”

The limestone quarry was established in 1834.
The limestone quarry was established in 1834.

Master builder Henry Trigg established the quarry and lime-burning operation in 1834 when he was granted 202ha of land with a limestone outcropping along its western edge.

Offen explained that in 1847, Trigg sold the land to his neighbour, Walter Padbury, who consolidated the estate with his own, transforming it into a 499ha property. Padbury reportedly established a stockyard, abattoirs, a tannery and other associated businesses on the land, while maintaining the operation of the lime kilns.

“At the height of operations over 50 men worked at the quarry and the kilns,” Offen stated.

It was said that the quarry contributed to the construction of many of Perth’s early public buildings, such as the city’s town hall.

Private quarrying on the site ceased in 1906 and, after years of disuse, Perth City Council purchased the site in 1917.

Quarry redevelopment

It wasn’t until six decades later that the idea to convert the old quarry into a performance venue was conceived.

The 720 ABC Perth report explained that Diana Waldron, director of the Perth City Ballet Company, came upon the idea of turning the quarry into an amphitheatre after reading about a local football club’s use of a separate quarry.

“[She] got a Commonwealth grant of nearly half a million dollars and started to work on constructing [the amphitheatre],” Offen explained. “This venue opened in November 1986 and has continued with performances – ballet, concerts, they even hold weddings here.”

The quarry site is now owned and managed by the Town of Cambridge, with the Perth City Ballet Company continuing to use the site each year.

The full 720 ABC Perth report is available at www.abc.net.au

More information on the Quarry Amphitheatre’s history is available at www.quarryamphitheatre.com.au

More reading
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Stone as a backdrop to the arts
Quarries on points in WA, on song in Queensland




















Monday, 16 July, 2018 05:09am
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