The Star Amphitheatre

The Star Amphitheatre, Balmoral, Sydney — Facts and Fiction

Photo of The Star Amphitheatre, Balmoral, SydneyThe Star Amphitheatre, Balmoral, Sydney

The Star Amphitheatre at Balmoral Beach in Sydney was the vision of Dr. Mary Rocke, a prominent theosophical worker in Sydney in the 1920s. She purchased land and worked tirelessly to raise the money (through donations) for its construction, which commenced in 1923 and was completed a year later.

The Star Amphitheatre had no connection at all with the Theosophical Society. It was built by an organization known as The Order of the Star in the East (OSE) which had been formed in 1911 in Benares (now Varanasi), India, in order to support the work of J. Krishnamurti, especially in his prophesized role as the next ‘World Teacher’. In August 1929 Krishnamurti publicly renounced that role and dissolved the OSE.

Over the decades since that time sections of the Australian press have repeated the story, based on the poetic licence of a journalist for the Truth – a newspaper that specialized in ‘sensational news’, that Krishnamurti, in his role as World Teacher, was going to walk on water through the Heads of Sydney Harbour before addressing a gathering of followers at the amphitheatre!

(Source: Theosophy in Australia, March 1989)

We reproduce below the letter which the National President of the Theosophical Society in Australia, Linda Oliveira, sent to the editor of The Sydney Morning Herald about the old myth of Krishnamurti ‘walking on the water’. Unfortunately the letter was not published.

17 October 2007

Balmoral Amphitheatre – The Facts

The letter of 17 October from Tony Backhouse continues the persistent, incorrect and sensationalised myth regarding The Theosophical Society (TS), the Order of the Star in the East (OSE), the former Balmoral Beach amphitheatre and ‘predictions’ of a Messiah walking on water. This is based on a serious misunderstanding. Here are some facts.

The TS and the OSE were very separate organisations. The TS, formed in 1875, still exists as a world-wide organisation today. Its members are united by a common search and aspiration for truth in their lives. The OSE was founded to promote the work of J. Krishnamurti and was disbanded in 1929. However, its supporters and organisers included individuals from both organisations thus leading to a misunderstanding of the role of the TS. J. Krishnamurti was, for a time, a member of the TS.

The amphitheatre was built with private funds to provide a venue for the teachings of J. Krishnamurti, who some saw as a future World Teacher. There was never any suggestion that he would “walk on water through Sydney Heads”. As far as is known he gave only one lecture in the amphitheatre.

It is important to emphasise that The TS, as an organisation, since its early days has subscribed to no Messiahs and has no formal affiliation with any other organisations. Also, the TS has no ideology which is binding on any member.

Linda Oliveira

National President, Theosophical Society in Australia