The End of the Rainbow

  • The End of the Rainbow is a documentary film about music, about community and a very special place. When the live music venue “The Rainbow Hotel” in the Melbourne suburb of Fitzroy is forced to close down publican Chickk sets out to accommodate the many musicians and customers grieving its closure with a final week of musical activity in which there is organisational chaos, dancing, laughs, beer (lots of), and great music.

    It is a week of celebration as musicians pay homage to mark “the End of an Era”, but it is also a statement about community places and a protest against property development at the expense of cultural heritage, specifically Australian live music. It’s also a love story with a dramatic twist...

    'The End of the Rainbow' was broadcast as an ABC arts program in 2010.
  • The Rainbow has been there since 1872 and has been a music venue since the 1930s, but the property boom means it is being sacrificed for the greater profit. Filmed principally over the last week of The Rainbow Hotel, with telling follow up interviews after the last song has been sung, The End of the Rainbow is a story about the loss of community and cultural places and a genuine outpouring of grief. But it is also a rousing send off, from the many musicians and people who have spent considerable time in arguably the most unique music venue in Australia – great music seven nights a week 365 days a year, for free. It is the place where many musicians got their break, in an informal atmosphere described as being like a living room where they mingle with the crowd. It is a place “where everyone knows your name”.

    The documentary is energetic, following the tempo of the outstanding live music that features in it, with interviews and events, including amusing and emotional moments with an eclectic cast of characters. The last week is followed with ecstatic crowds who dance enthusiastically to great music and take photos with their phones as final reminders, a street party, people chilling out in the beer garden, candid and insightful comments on the closure by regular punters, flowing champagne, queues to get in, and so many punters the pub runs out of beer and water.

    The documentary is focussed on five main characters: Chickk and Ursula, the married publicans in their sixties, he with a serious and blokey demeanour, but someone who seems to know everyone and who is totally dedicated to Australian music, and she, a cockney from London where she started working in pubs as a young girl; and three musicians who know The Rainbow well and who we see play there in the final week.

    These are: Paul Williamson, the saxophonist who always has a joke to crack, who plays his final gig after 16 regular years on Monday night for whom Monday’s will never be the same again; Dave Evans from the well known Jazz based party group “The Band Who Knew Too Much” who rides his bike to his final performance where he dances on the bar, and who is interviewed in his trade mark hat and definitive side burns where he articulates the importance of places such as The Rainbow to live Australian music and the significance of their loss to Melbourne’s culture; and Jaimi Faulkner who at 25 is about to represent Australia at the world’s blues competition in Memphis.

    Jaimi’s father used to take him to The Rainbow where he played his first gig at the age of 16 on an open mic night, and who in it’s final week is working at the bar to save up some cash before going overseas, but he’s also playing on the final day.

    As the weeks progresses, we follow the emotional journey of Chick and Ursula, see Paul, Dave and Jaimi play and articulate their feelings in direct to camera interviews. The film also makes use of vox pop with other musicians and customers who express strong views on the hotel closing.

    The End of the Rainbow is a documentary film about music, about community and a very special place. It is a story that encapsulates the loss of community places that provide areas with their character.

    This is story about the loss of cultural heritage, its vulnerability to property development and the need for it to be protected. This is a film about Melbourne and the importance of places such as The Rainbow to the future of music in Australia, and the importance and loss of places that provide character and soul to our suburbs and community.

    This is a documentary film about music, musicians, the loss of place and song and what lies beyond the Rainbow. It is also a story with a dramatic twist, both in the personal lives of Chick and Ursula and the fate of the Rainbow Hotel.
  • Reviews

    “A snapshot of a familiar theme in Australia’s inner-city suburbs: historic pubs with grungy character are forced out when gentrification brings residents who don’t like noise”
    -The Australian

    “It’s a pot o’ gold”
    - EG, The Age

    A rather lovely documentary…the story of the little man’s battle to protect those modern parts of our cultural heritage that do not possess the natural armour of stained glass transoms, mansard rooftops and sandstone porticos
    - Green Guide, The Age

    Everything that’s good and bad about contemporary Melbourne
    - The Sunday Age

  • Copies of the DVD, with an additional 25 minutes of footage, can be purchased from
  • ABC2 Sunday 27 June 2010 7.30pm

    ABC1 Sunday 4 July 2010 3.30pm
  • Melbourne Blues Appreciation Society

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