The Rex: a few questions

January 19th, 2023The Rex: a few questions

Who are the Comellis and the Bromleys?

Who are the Comellis and the Bromleys?
Eddy and Malinka Comelli are long-term locals. Eddy received a life membership
of the Central Highlands Football League in 2021 after many years as president and
describes himself as a farmer, businessman and property developer.
In an interview with The Local in 2016, Eddy said he had a desire to see
Daylesford become a better place to live, with more maintenance, landscape and

Eddie’s forebears came from Udine, in north-east Italy, spreading across the
world in search of work in the 1960s. Eddie grew up in Preston, and his family began
farming in Daylesford in 1969, moving to meat wholesaling, pig raising and on to
buying the local abattoir in 1980. The Comellis own a number of rental properties
and businesses throughout Daylesford and the wider region.
Artists and entrepreneurs Yuge and David Bromley have lived in Daylesford for
the past 12 years but Yuge, also a lawyer, says her husband has had a connection to
Daylesford for about 18 years.
On their website, the artist couple says they “usually take on projects based on
our passion/obsession for art, design, interiors, fashion and generally liking to get our
hands dirty with whatever creative scenario we can immerse ourselves in”.
A biography for Harvey Galleries says David was born in Sheffield, England
and emmigrated with his family in 1964. “Bromley emerged as a painter in the
mid-1980s. In the early stages of his career, he held solo exhibitions in Sydney and
Adelaide and represented works in state and regional galleries, to include finalist in
the Archibald Prize, AGNSW, in 1999, 2001 and 2004.” David’s work is now known
around the globe.
Will the Daylesford Community Cinema go ahead?
Neither the Comellis nor the Bromleys are ready to say either way if the cinema
will be part of their plans. The volunteer-run cinema was already in The Rex when
it was sold to the council in 2016. After some concerns it would not return after
renovations, the council promised it would be a part of the Hepburn Hub. As
pictured, opposite below right, a shell was constructed upstairs to house the cinema
with room for seating, a ticket booth, the screen, a projector room and public toilets.
What about the long awaited public toilets?
Former Hepburn Shire Council CEO Aaron van Egmond first approached the
owners of The Rex when they closed the public toilets in the building. The council
eventually bought the property for $6 million in 2016 with public toilets, including
accessible toilets, part of the deal for its reopening as the Hepburn Hub.
When asked by The Local if public toilets were on the agenda, Yuge said they
“definitely plan to include toilets in line with our design”. “We want it to be a place
that people enjoy coming to and that includes providing even things like rubbish
However Eddy said specific details including those relating to provision of public
toilet facilities still needed to be worked out. “There’ll definitely be toilets, but
whether they’re public …we haven’t had time yet to sit down and work that out yet.”
Hepburn Shire Mayor Cr Brian Hood said CEO Bradley Thomas would prepare
a scope to undertake a planning project reviewing possible solutions for staffing
accommodation and community facilities that were to be included in the Hepburn
Hub. “This will include consideration of accessible public toilets and will be carried
out during 2023 now that The Rex has been sold.”
Where is the Aboriginal artwork Fish Traps going to end up?
Cr Hood said with the sale of The Rex, the council had been working with artist
Aunty Marilyn on an alternative site. “A council briefing report was completed
prior to the end of year closure explaining that a range of council facilities had been
explored, and we are currently working on final details of the preferred location. We
are committed to the finalisation and installation of this artwork and will be able to
provide the location in the near future.”
Finally, will the Chips Rafferty signature remain?
When acting legend Chips Rafferty visited Daylesford in 1954 he left behind
his signature on one of the walls of The Rex when it was still operating as a theatre.
Historian Winsome Moffat remembers the day well.
“Chips was going around to all the theatres in Australia to try and drum up
money for a film he was planning (Walk into Paradise). He came and made a little
speech at The Rex and then just went into the street to talk to people.” A council
spokesperson said the preservation, or not, of the signature would now be up to the
new owners.
Words & image: Donna Kelly

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