Put it down to social media or just shifting social mores – no longer is the plain old traditional church or local bowling club a drawcard venue for hire. We’re seeking to tailor events to ever more personal use, and that means unearthing spaces not always on the radar. From underground caves to on-the-water enclaves, here’s some of the more interesting spaces for hire around the country.
Church of Bang Bang Boogaloo
This venue in the heart of the city might be the only instance people actively look forward to tying the knot inside an abandoned factory. The Church of Bang Bang Boogaloo – a ex-factory turned intimate “chapel” – is another of Jerome Borazio’s unique reworks of inner-city space. (He’s also responsible for Sister Bella, St. Jerome’s Rooftop Hotel, and multi-purpose space 1000 £ Bend, which conveniently sits just around the corner from Bang Bang should the party need to expand.)
The church holds 60 people seated or 120 standing, and is more than just an interesting space to get married. They also have gigs, parties and ceremonies of all stripes under its rustic vaulted ceilings, including the truly untraditional: divorce parties. During which, as they say on their website, you can “celebrate post-marital bliss in the best kind of way.”
Brown Family Barn
The recipe for a great wedding venue is pretty simple: somewhere worth travelling for. The Brown Family Barn, in Milawaa, north-eastern Victoria, fits the bill. Nestled within the grounds of the Brown Brothers winery, the restored barn features high-ceilings and fairy tale-like surrounds including a backdrop of genteel lawns and the Victorian high country looming in the distance. It’s conveniently located in the lower reaches of King Valley – the local hub of excellent produce and, obviously, wine. Food and premium wines can be provided by the cellar door at Brown Brothers and their in-house, hatted Patricia’s Table restaurant, leaving you with few obligations beyond strolling around, eating and drinking.
Andrew (Boy) Charlton Pool
There’s few swimming spots in Sydney as spectacular or historic as Andrew (Boy) Charlton Pool – and Sydney has no scarcity of such things. It is located on the shore of Woolloomooloo Bay, alongside the Royal Botanic Garden, and the first baths built on site date back to 1825. The current Olympic-size pool was built in 1968 and underwent a $10 million upgrade in 2001 after a community campaign saved it from demolition. That local goodwill might have something to do with it literally jutting out over Sydney Harbour, making it one of the city’s most in-demand spots to swim, read, and relax.
Thanks to the Poolside Cafe next to the pool, the Andrew (Boy) Charlton also makes an excellent spot for special occasions. Guests can gather on the sundeck, toast the sun going down over the city, and consider their next cocktail or canapé by the water’s edge.
Settlers Arms Inn
Spare a thought for the convicts who cut the sandstone used to build Settlers Arms Inn in 1836. The hotel, located in the village of St Albans in the Macdonald Valley, was frequently used as a stopover in the nineteenth century by stagecoaches travelling between Sydney and Newcastle.
The Settlers Arms Inn remains an out-of-the-way meeting spot. These days it’s also a popular venue for birthdays, engagement parties and weddings, due to its private setting on lush mountainside near the Macdonald River. Groups can book the Fernery, with a capacity of 70, or two smaller rooms that can each accommodate up to 30 people.
As the name suggests, High Church was once an actual church. Built in 1876, the building was designed by noted colonial-era Brisbane architect Richard Gailey with the aim of serving the spiritual needs of the then-gritty suburb of Fortitude Valley.
The church is available for weddings – newlyweds can nip down the end of the street and have photos taken in front of the Story Bridge – but also ceremonies, cocktail parties, and any kind of get-together requiring something a little different.
John Macdonald cut his teeth staging warehouse parties in London. When the downstairs smash repair shop’s lease expired in this family-owned building in Fortitude Valley, the Brisbane native saw the potential to create a unique events space. And when the upstairs printing company vacated not long after, he was in prime position to put the space to best use.
Macdonald gutted the building but retained its industrial features, like the heavy hardwood floor and the iron girders, as well as replaced the roof. Now dubbed Lightspace, the venue features four-metre high ceilings, polished concrete floors, vintage furniture, and an outdoor terrace offering a cracking view of the city skyline. It’s the kind of interesting “statement” space equally adept at hosting one-off product launches, fashion shows and high profile media events (such as the My Kitchen Rules 2017 launch), as it is weddings and birthdays.
Perth City Farm
Early every Saturday morning local growers and producers converge on Perth City Farm in East Perth to sell their wares at the Farmers’ Markets. After they pack up their stalls and head for home, the venue becomes an events space for hire.
The location’s charm comes from it essentially being a piece of countryside wedged in the city. It features a historic barn with whitewashed walls, terracotta flooring and steel beams that opens onto a large courtyard surrounded by gardens and rustic buildings. The unexpected bucolic setting serves as the perfect backdrop to soirees of all kinds, from private parties to exhibitions and expos.
The story goes that Perth’s glitterati used Cabaret Cave as a clandestine party venue in the 1930s. Continuing that tradition, the grotto – literally, an underground cave – now serves as one of the most unique events spaces in Australia.
Located in Yanchep on Perth’s northern fringes, Cabaret Cave is climate controlled thanks to the wonders of nature. It can accommodate 200 cocktail guests, or 120 for a sit-down dinner, and has the added perk of being acoustically primed for any musical guests.
Set between a picturesque pine plantation and a strawberry field five kilometres from the nearest town, Kuitpo Hall is one of the more secluded event spaces in South Australia.
When event manager Jade Seskis bought Kuitpo Hall on Christmas Eve 2015, squatters were living in the condemned building. Dating back to the 1920s, the hall has served many functions, from a school to a bikie hub. Seskis spent a year restoring the historic building, stripping back layers of old paint to reveal beautiful heritage timber, and repaired the stonework’s ageing masonry. The secluded location makes it the kind of destination suitable to any style of event.
This one’s hiding in plain sight. The Mortlock Chamber in South Australia’s State Library in the Adelaide CBD is a grand event space that will appeal to literary types or just anyone with a predilection for late Victorian-era design. The sumptuous space seats 200 for a formal dinner or up to 300 standing cocktail guests. The upstairs gallery is available for pre-dinner drinks.
This article is presented in partnership with Brown Brothers.