Gardens Amphitheatre Infrastructure Upgrades Study


Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia


City of Darwin


Undertook a review to assist with identifying and prioritising infrastructure upgrades to the City of Darwin Gardens Amphitheatre, which included reviewing the venue's legislative compliance and investigating barriers and restrictions to utilisation




Dean Hassall and Carolynne Hassall (jointly)

  • Located within the 42‐hectare George Brown Darwin Botanic Gardens, the Gardens Amphitheatre is recognized as Darwin's premier outdoor venue.

  • Built during the early 1960’s with a ‘sound shell’ specially-designed to ensure a high standard of acoustics, the venue hosts many of Darwin's iconic community events including Carols by Candlelight, the National Indigenous Music Awards and the Darwin Festival, as well as commercial music concerts and festivals.

  • The Gardens Amphitheatre has always been owned by the City of Darwin (Council), however, the venue has been managed by several parties during its history. The current operator is Darwin Performing Arts Centre (trading as Darwin Entertainment Centre).

  • As an iconic - but ageing - community asset, the City of Darwin received funding from the Northern Territory Government, through the Department of Tourism, Sport and Culture, for the undertaking of a Study (and to potentially implement any agreed priority recommendations) around:

  • gauging the scope of Gardens Amphitheatre functionality;

  • increasing venue usage;

  • ensuring the venue and its operations complies with all Commonwealth, Territory and Council legislative requirements and applicable industry regulatory standards; and

  • fitting the ongoing needs of Darwin’s community users and commercial hirers in the future.

  • The City of Darwin sought DHC’s venue management and operational planning expertise in order to inform and deliver upon the following required outcomes of the Study.

  • Benchmarking – assess the Gardens Amphitheatre against venues of similar nature both locally and nationally to assist with identifying and prioritizing infrastructure upgrades;

  • Compliance – Review the venue as-is and assess against applicable legislation for compliance whilst recognising best practice; and

  • Utilisation – Discuss both positives and negatives from a user perspective and provide a summary of findings which may be used to mitigate barriers and restrictions.

  • The bulk of DHC’s scope was dedicated to research and report presentation, involving:

  • discussions with stakeholders, conducted over the course of several weeks, where DHC met for interviews, or spoke at length with, a range of invested parties

  • like-for-like venue benchmarking of amphitheatre live performance venues around Australia

  • broader investigations on industry trends and philosophies relating to outdoor performance venues

  • Production of a detailed report consolidating several areas of interest in the scope undertaken by DHC; it provided a summary of operational and compliance related risk and prioritized list of considerations based upon increasing the venue’s utilisation and removing barriers

  • Collaboration throughout the project with City of Darwin and Darwin Entertainment Centre (appointed commercial operator)

  • Formal presentation of findings and recommendations to Lord Mayor and Aldermen at Council meeting

  • DHC’s records of research outcomes were extensive and the collective revealed critical insights of great benefit to all stakeholders during future decision making about the Gardens Amphitheatre.