Pambula Town Hall – 13 Quondola Street


The original Pambula School of Arts. Image courtesy of the Bega Valley Genealogy Society.


Like so many other towns across Australia, the Pambula Town Hall has been the heart of the community since the first building was erected on the other side of Quondola Street in 1883. Then known as the School of Arts, it was built on land donated by John Behl (what a guy). The School of Arts movement was founded in Edinburgh, Scotland, to support the education of members by sharing knowledge and promoting literature, science, and the arts. Also known as Mechanics, Railways or Literary Institutes, the Australian colonies embraced the idea, and it became more widespread and influential per capita than in any other part of the British Empire.

As well as maintaining a library of books, newspapers and periodicals, the School of Arts also provided a venue for lectures, public meetings, concerts, recitals and, of course, balls where many a romance reportedly blossomed.

By 1901, the community had outgrown the original building but the site was not large enough to support extensions. The current block was purchased and finally in 1921 the existing structure was moved here and extended. Works were completed in 1922, with an official opening and ball taking place. Reportedly the new hall was overflowing, filled with dancers of whom over 100 couples were present. Apparently Pambula always had good crowds at their balls due to the delicious cakes and trifles served up at supper.

Silent movie screenings began in 1921, followed by the talkies in 1932. A new picture-screening box was installed in the brick addition at the front of the building in 1929. The Saturday night pictures proved a great drawcard for the town, with all the tables at both local cafes full before and after the movies. And, of course, it was quite common to see Jaffas rolling down the aisles between the seats once the lights went down.

Now known as the Pambula Town Hall, it remains a social and cultural hub for the local community. On the northern wall of the Town Hall you will find the artwork titled Toonku And Ngyardi by local indigenous artist Cheryl Davison. It’s part of an eleven site mural art project in Pambula Village, also facilitated by Pambula Business Chamber with grant funding through the Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal. You will visit all 11 mural sites during this tour.

Toonku And Ngyardi by local indigenous artist Cheryl Davison

A fancy dress group behind the Pambula School of Arts. Image courtesy of the George Family Collection.



This cottage and the one opposite are important examples of weatherboard buildings of the time. Constructed around the early 1900s for the Behl family (there they are again), number 11 was eventually owned by Rose Ann Dowling who took in borders for many years, including young female assistant teachers from the local public school.