David Kirk and Gavan Barber moved to Tasmania practically sight unseen from Adelaide in South Australia. The island state just seemed like the right place for them to be. The pair arrived to live at Spring Beach near Orford on the east coast and fell in love with the location and the community. And they’ve never looked back.

Orford Odeon - East Coast of Tasmania

Orford beach: East Coast Tasmania (photo by Dan Fellow)

Orford Odeon: Community Spirit

While Gavan works in finance for the Glamorgan Spring Bay Council, David dedicates a great deal of his time to The Orford Odeon, a multi-award-winning community cinema. David was once an actor “a lifetime ago” and the Odeon is clearly his passion now. Well that… and correct spelling and punctuation. I must proofread this!

Orford Odeon - Cinema

The Orford Odeon: cinematic experience (photo supplied)

David considers his role at The Orford Odeon a great way to contribute to society. If everyone had even half the community spirit of David Kirk, the world would be a much nicer place to live in. He was determined to make our interview all about The Orford Odeon; but he’s a fascinating character, so it’s difficult to stay on track.

Compelling Words from David Kirk

Recently I wrote an article for Sue Nettlefold from the Triabunna Painters Studio about the Gallery of Small Works Exhibition. Sue gave David the heads up about Think Tasmania, and I agreed to write about The Orford Odeon for the website. Then I received a copy of David’s newsletter and it was so touching, I felt compelled to call and speak to him immediately. Here’s an excerpt from that newsletter…

When I sat down to write to you today I felt so sad. Of course I wanted to compose my letter to you about our wonderful January School Holiday film, The Wizard of Oz. But I kept hearing the final words which are spoken in the film, and their poignant irony disturbed and touched me deeply.

So many homes have been destroyed in the catastrophic bushfires that have swept across our Shire, our State, indeed a large portion of our Nation, during these last few nightmarish weeks. For many people affected by this horrendous situation – some of whom are reading this now – there really is ‘no place like home’ – not anymore.

I kept thinking, what can I say? Who on earth is going to feel like singing, or dancing, or wanting to ‘follow the yellow brick road’ at a time like this?

And then I remembered, of all people, Vera Lynn.

Vera was one of the greatest entertainers who boosted public morale in Britain during the darkest days of WWII. Those of you not familiar with Vera can Google her – it will be worth your effort. Her rendition of We’ll Meet Again makes the hair on my arms and neck stand on end even today, and (believe it or not) I wasn’t born until well after the Second World War.

The point is, we all need Hope in times of tragedy and loss, and it has been demonstrated so many times throughout our history that entertainment provides intangible benefits; ones that strengthen us and assist us to cope better with stress – to ‘carry on’. Singing, dancing and wanting to ‘follow the yellow brick road’ provides respite and diversion; we can relax, albeit briefly, to recharge and repair.

We emerge from the dark – literally – with uplifted and happier hearts; better prepared to fight on – and to win!

Aren’t they just the most fabulous words? Aside from the appreciation of the sentiment, I did also think David Kirk would make a great guest author for Think Tasmania. But unfortunately he’s too busy to write articles, and when you hear about the many hours he spends at The Orford Odeon, you can understand.

All proceeds from the screening of the 70th Anniversary Blu-Ray version of The Wizard of Oz at The Orford Odeon will be donated to the Swansea/Bicheno Community Bank Tasmanian Bushfire Appeal

Orford Primary School; Glamorgan Spring Bay Council

The cinema building at the Orford Primary School was constructed during Kevin Rudd’s education revolution era. Used primarily as a multi-purpose school hall and gymnasium, it is transformed into The Orford Odeon by David and Gavan once a month in school terms, and twice in each of the school holidays. A collaborative project between the school and the council, the agenda of The Orford Odeon is to…

  • provide a cinema experience that is accessible financially to the entire community
  • raise monies to fund projects at the Orford Primary School
  • raise monies to fund projects beneficial to the youth of Glamorgan Spring Bay

Proceeds from the cinema are allocated by the management committee and used to benefit the community. Money raised by The Orford Odeon has paid for custom-made black-out curtains in the Performing Arts Centre. They were also instrumental in the engagement of Lorin Nicholson as a motivational speaker at the Triabunna District High School.

The Eye of the Storm at the Orford Odeon: L to R: David Kirk; Patricia Kirk (Spring Beach resident & volunteer); Gavan Barber; Shauna Roche (Antony’s Partner); Lona Turvey (Manager Community Development & Admin – GSBC); Bertrand Cadart (Mayor of Glamorgan Spring Bay Council) & Antony Waddington (Producer of The Eye of the Storm)

The Orford Odeon Experience

These days, there’s a big-screen TV in almost every home with easy access to DVDs and Internet downloads. To entice patrons from their couch, The Orford Odeon decided to provide an experience rather than just a film-screening. Gavan and David use their creative flair to decorate the cinema foyer with elaborate designs in the theme of the film.

Orford Odeon - Movie Theme

Decorated foyer: Orford Odeon (photo supplied)

They sell snack packs, popcorn and chocolates and run a licensed bar; and sell merchandise in the form of laminated A3 cinema posters. The price of admission includes a door prize… and the chance to socialise with friends and neighbours as well as meet new people. Tickets sell across the board for $5.

Orford Odeon - Movie Snacks

Snacks for cinema: Orford Odeon (photo supplied)

The Orford Odeon is a truly successful venture, and is certainly not a drain on the government purse or just a hobby for David. By enlisting local business owners to sponsor the screenings in return for promotion, the cost of film hire is covered before a single ticket has been sold. Other locals have also contributed, allowing a bus to collect patrons from Triabunna (and as far away as Buckland if required) and deliver them to Orford without additional charge.

Classic Films: The Man From Snowy River

The Man From Snowy River will be screened at The Orford Odeon (Orford Primary School, off Charles Street at rear of school) on Tuesday February 12. Doors open at 6:30pm, the film starts at 7:00pm and the session ends at about 9:30pm. All tickets are $5 and akubras are optional! This incorporates an awareness and fundraising night for Rural Alive and Well Inc.

Orford Odeon - Man From Snowy River

Orford Odeon (poster supplied)

David Kirk jokes that people cross the street when they see him coming, rather than endure his never-ending commentary about The Orford Odeon. Having spoken with him at length myself, I cannot imagine that to be true at all. As I said earlier, he’s a fascinating character: interesting, funny and passionate. Every town in Tasmania would be lucky to have his enterprise.

The Orford Odeon cinema seats 70, and usually attracts a capacity crowd. 15 films were screened in 2012, including How to Train your Dragon, Calendar Girls, Red Dog and The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. For information about current screenings join The Orford Odeon mailing list by contacting David Kirk. Also look out for posters and flyers around Orford and Triabunna. You can also visit The Orford Odeon webpage via the Orford Primary School.

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