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Photo: Destination NSW
Unsurprisingly, Aussie director Baz Luhrmann’s hometown of Sydney is where most of his films are made. Moulin Rouge was filmed almost entirely at Fox Studios in Moore Park – part of the Sydney Entertainment Quarter, you can visit this spot yourself and retrace the steps of many stars before you. The Great Gatsby starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Tobey Maguire was also partially filmed here, with other locations including Centennial Park (home of Gatsby’s lavish estate), St Patricks Seminary in Manly (Gatsby’s stunning mansion), Glebe Island, Sydney Polo Club and even the fabulous Blue Mountains (Nick Carraway's garden). It doesn’t stop there – the suburbs and CBD of Sydney also provided dramatic backdrops for the world’s best action flicks, such as The Matrix films and Mission Impossible 2. In outback NSW, the Mundi Mundi Plans were used in post-apocalyptic Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior. You'll soon learn Mel Gibson's famous Mad Max films were filmed in almost every corner of the country!
The white sand beaches and aquamarine waters of Queensland have provided a setting for a huge amount of films – if the movie needs a beach, Queensland is where the filmmakers go! Recent DC smash hit Aquaman was filmed at Village Roadshow Studios in the Gold Coast, using the gorgeous Currumbin Beach for many of its scenes. North Stradbroke Island was also used in the film, for those maximum tropical paradise vibes. The Gold Coast also moonlighted as the fictional town of Porpoise Spit, as seen in iconic Aussie drama Muriel’s Wedding. Still in the Goldie, the disastrous scenes that unfolded in The Inbetweeners 2 at a water park were filmed at much-loved theme park Wet ‘n’ Wild. Further north, Hamilton Island posed as The Bahamas in cheesy Hollywood rom-com Fool’s Gold. Recently, the resort town of Port Douglas played host to Captain Jack Sparrow, when Pirates of the Caribbean 5 was filmed. Small parts of Thor: Ragnarok were also filmed in Brisbane - causing quite a stir amongst the locals!
The city of Melbourne and the whole state of Victoria is full of life, character and stories, so it’s no surprise that it provided the backdrop for a diverse range of Aussie and international films. The vast landscapes of country Victoria represented the post-apocalyptic landscapes of the first Mad Max movie. Many of the car chase scenes were filmed near the town of Little River, northeast of Geelong, and other scenes were filmed near the gold rush town of Ballarat. Many of these streetscapes remain unchanged to this day, so you can visit and channel your inner Max Rockatansky. Heath Ledger’s Ned Kelly also came to life in Victoria – true to where the bushranger was active in the nineteenth century. In more lighter genres, the live action Charlotte’s Web film was not actually filmed in New England where the story is set, but rural Victoria - providing the gorgeous farm settings. Similarly, the epic scenes in Where the Wild Things Are were shot in various locations around Victoria, such as Bushrangers Bay, Williamstown and Newport.
It should shock nobody that the diverse landscapes of the Northern Territory served as a dramatic backdrop for many of the world’s best films, especially those about the Aussie outback! Crocodile Dundee, for one, which would soon become the movie that changed tourism in Australia forever. Paul Hogan became the face of an Australia the world was yet to discover, and his adventures took place in none other than Kakadu National Park. This movie inspired people all around the world to visit the Aussie outback and have an "authentic" experience. It is very fitting that Baz Luhrmann’s award-winning film Australia also used these epic landscapes to perfectly portray life in the outback during World War II. Similarly, one of Australia’s best films ever, The Adventures of Priscilla Queen of the Desert, sees three drag queens take on a road trip from Sydney to Alice Springs. Well-known for introducing LGBT themes to mainstream audiences (as well as that classic Aussie humour), Priscilla is truly a must-watch movie. You can follow in the queens’ footsteps by visiting the Northern Territory and hiking Kings Canyon - drag get-up optional.
The gorgeous beaches and vast plains of South Australia have provided the settings for a Hollywood blockbuster or two! The Mad Max madness continues – the third and final instalment in Mel Gibson’s trilogy, Mad Max 3: Beyond Thunderdome, was largely shot in Coober Pedy. Coober Pedy is known as the opal capital of the world, and the entire town is mainly underground, to provide protection from the scorching daytime heat. Its desert climate provides the perfect dystopian landscape for Mad Max. The deserts of South Australia were also used to film some outback scenes in The Inbetweeners 2. From the rustic outback to pure luxury, South Australia’s Kangaroo Island (pictured) also provided the picturesque beach setting for Daniel Radcliffe’s December Boys, telling the story of four teenage Aussie orphans raised in an outback convent, who are sent on a seaside holiday. And as far as seaside getaways go, you really can't get much better than Kangaroo Island.
Western Australia is a stunningly diverse state, with breathtaking pristine beaches to the south-west and pure, unforgiving outback to the north. This is why many of Australia’s most iconic films were shot there – the heart-warming story of Red Dog, the culturally significant Bran Nue Day and even more Mad Max¸ this time providing the setting for the second film. It also provided the eerie backdrop to the harrowing tale of Wolf Creek, which is not to be taken as an accurate representation of backpacking Australia! Filmmaking runs deep in this region's blood, as WA is also home to one of Australia's best performing arts schools – the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts at Edith Cowan University (the alma mater of Australia’s very own Hugh Jackman!) International filmmakers don't appear to have uncovered everything Western Australia has to offer just yet - but you don't have to be a bigshot Hollywood director to enjoy this beautiful (and enormous) stretch of land.
Photo: Tourism Tasmania
The shining star of movies filmed in the Apple Isle is the heart-wrenching tale of Lion, starring English actor Dev Patel and seasoned Aussie actors Nicole Kidman and John Wenham. Much of the story takes place in Hobart as a young Indian boy adjusts to his new unfamiliar home, with filming also taking place in Cape Hauy and Bruny Island (pictured). Light Between Oceans starring Michael Fassbender and Rachel Weisz was also partially filmed in Tassie, telling the story of an Australian lighthouse keeper. Other films set in Tasmania are mainly lesser-known Aussie films, but we’re confident that once the rest of the world gets wind of the sweeping landscapes of Tasmania, we’ll see even more Hollywood blockbusters shot in this underrated state. So, you should definitely visit now and stay ahead of the game!