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Ulumbarra Theatre

Architect: Y2 Architecture, Schuler Shook

Meaning ‘gather together’ or ‘meeting place’ in the language of the Dja Dja Wurrung people, Ulumbarra blends heritage and modern elements beautifully, offering distinctive state-of-the-art performance and event spaces. The Sandhurst Gaol–now the site of Ulumbarra Theatre–originally opened in 1863 and was decommissioned in 2006. Former inmates include Chopper Read and Ronald Ryan. The original design, with passages radiating from a central hub, was based upon the much publicised Pentonville concept, which enabled the surveillance of multiple wings from a central point whilst allowing a reasonable amount of air to circulate the cellblocks. The renovation by Melbourne architects Y2 and international theatre design specialists Schuler Shook, merges contemporary design with the heritage elements of the old penitentiary architecture. With an auditorium capacity of 951, expansive foyers, studios and meeting rooms, Ulumbarra Theatre’s architects have cleverly adapted this historic gaol to create an extraordinary arts and community facility. Ulumbarra’s main stage–the largest in regional Australia–can accommodate many diverse performances or touring companies with a fully-functional fly tower and world-class production capabilities.

Need to Know

  • Open: Sunday 28 October 10am–4pm

  • Heritage Listed: Yes

  • What's Open: Foyer spaces, theatre auditorium and courtyards.

  • Tour Type: Guided + Self-guided

  • Tour Details: Self-guided tours available during the opening hours. Guided tours led by Y2 Architecture at 10am, 11am, 1pm, 2pm running for 30 minutes. Tours leave from main entry off Gaol Rd. [Entry stairs].

  • Access: Pram accessible, Fully accessible

  • Building Type: Cultural

  • Facilities: Toilets

  • Special Programming: Cell 26 – Audio Tour. Using a former prison cell as inspiration, documentary theatremaker Roslyn Oades and local musician Eliza Hull have created an intimate listening experience exploring the dramatic layers of story embedded in the Ulumbarra Theatre site. CELL 26 draws on interviews, field recordings and original composition to create a compelling 30 minute site-specific audio-documentary about incarceration, scars and transformation. Visitors to CELL 26 are invited to put on headphones, lie down on a prison bed and listen to the real-life voices of those who were here before them. For more information see here:  

  • Year Built: 2015

  • Website:

  • Photo Credit: Peter Clarke


10 Gaol Road, Bendigo 3550, Bendigo VIC


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