Australia. A place where beautiful landscapes tell a story all on their own and bustling cities are filled to the brim with stunning sights and urban architecture. When it comes to killer film locations, Australia is straight out of central casting. Filmmakers have noticed this too, and for years they’ve been putting Australia to work as the setting for their smash hit successes. While Australia is an obvious player in many movies, sometimes it goes under the radar as the backdrop of some classic films.
Here are ten movies you didn’t know were filmed in Australia.
The Great Gatsby (2013)
Directed by the proud Aussie and Sydneysider, Baz Luhrmannaround 40% of the The Great Gatsby was filmed on location in Sydney. The International College of Management Sydney, in the suburb of Manly, stood in for the exterior of the Gatsby Mansion (The College is also well known as the location of Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban’s wedding). For the film they attached large amounts of fake ivy to the bottom of the building, as well as installing a temporary fountain in the courtyard. The rest of the details were done digitally in post-production.
For Gatsby’s estate, driveway and Nick Carraway’s house, they used Centennial park where they built sets that were later taken down.
The Valley of Ashes and Wilson's Garage were all filmed on-site in White Bay Power Station in Rozelle. In fact, White Bay Power Station has been a popular filming location for both Australian and International directors and has been featured in all sorts of films including the Matrix Reloaded. Which bring us to the next film on this list.
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The Matrix (1999)
Almost all of the Matrix was filmed in the heart of Sydney's Central Business District. The training scene with the woman in the red dress was done at a fountain near the corner of Martin Pl and Pitt St.
If you’ve ever wanted to have lunch with Agent Smith head to Chifley Plaza at 2 Chifley Square. The tower houses the restaurant where Cypher switched teams over a digital steak dinner with Agent Smith.
The Westin Hotel at 1 Martin Place was used for interior shots involving chase sequences and the stairs were used for the glitch in the matrix/deja vu cat scene.
The last place of note is the Colonial State Bank Centre at 52 Martin Place. It’s where Agent Smith held Morpheus hostage in the later part of the film.
Sydney was primary chosen because it’s Central Business District was full of anonymous skyscrapers. That doesn’t mean Sydney is boring though. If you’ve got the time, it’s worth checking out some of the spots in the movie and seeing if you recognise them.
Babe the Gallant Pig (1995)
Babe (also known as Babe the Gallant Pig) was directed by Sydneysider Chris Noonan. With the original setting of the book being in the UK there was a need for rolling country hills. Bar flying everything overseas they instead picked the town of Robinson, NSW (colloquially known as Robbo) to substitute for the english countryside. Robbo’s a pretty small place so apart from the beautiful countryside that’s featured in Babe, the only other major attraction is the Big Potato, which was built in 1977.
The movie Unbroken, directed by Angelina Jolie, was filmed all over NSW.
Sydney, which seems to be really popular for films, stood in for places all around the world. Pitt St was used for Radio Tokyo, while the scenes featuring a bombed out Tokyo were in the Council yard off Wattle Street in Ultimo. The Blacktown International Sportspark played the part of the Berlin 1936 Olympic Games stadium.
The Cockatoo Islands and Werris Creek were also major locations in the movies filming. The Cockatoo Islands get used pretty often as filming locations and have played host to big Australian reality T.V. shows like Australian MasterChef and Australian Ninja Warrior. It was a major location for Hugh Jackman's X-Men Origins: Wolverine in 2008.
This true story is a real globe trotter. Taking us all the way from India to Australia the filming took place in most of the locations from the original story. The film was shot all over Australia, with filming done in Melbourne but mostly in Tasmania, where Saroo (the main character) was adopted. The tassie locations were Hobart, Marion Bay (where the family played cricket, as well as being a great beach), and Mount Wellington in Tasmania (which is a local favourite for hiking and has great city views.). It also featured Bruny Island, which is just off the coast of Tassie and Cape Hauy which has a great hiking track and stunning ocean views.
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Ghost Rider (2007)
Although Ghost Rider was set in the deep south of Texas, “Nick Cages Flaming Skull The Movie” was filmed in and around Melbourne. In fact almost all the city locations were found within a 20km radius of Melbourne.
The funfair was filmed in Bacchus Marsh. It’s here that old Nick Cage made a deal with the devil to save his father. The fair was built on an empty field near the Avenue of Honour, a road lined with trees that commemorates those that died in war. In fact, much of Bacchus Marsh stood in for the wide open country roads of the American south west. The rest of the film was filmed almost entirely inside Melbourne’s Central Business District, featuring everywhere from Collins St to Etihad Stadium (Now ironically Marvel Stadium) to the Melbourne Showgrounds.
Fun Fact: Nick Cage is actually a big comic book fan and had to cover up his Ghost Rider tattoo to play Ghost Rider.
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Fools Gold (2008)
While the movie was originally planned to be filmed in the Caribbean, due to potential hurricanes the filmmakers did a 2017 Pirates of the Caribbean and filmed it in Australia instead. The majority of the filming took place in Queensland, a place well known for its awesome beaches.
The Key West Scenes were filmed in Port Douglas. The movie was also filmed in Brisbane, the Gold Coast, Hamilton Island, Lizard Island, Airlie Beach, and Hervey Bay. Some scenes were also filmed at Batt Reef where Australian Legend, Steve Irwin, sadly died from a stingray barb in 2006.
Mission Impossible 2 (2000)
John Woo’s action packed sequel wouldn’t have been possible without Sydney. In fact the film features one of Australia's favourite things to put on a fridge magnet, the Sydney Opera House. Except for the rock climbing scene which was filmed in Moab, Utah, the movies filming was mostly based around Sydney. Argyll St in The Rocks, a famous downtown area in Sydney, was used as a stand in for Seville in Spain. The spanish driveway scene was filmed at Boomerang, 42 Billyard Avenue in Elizabeth Bay. This 3 story mansion and private property has been described as Australia’s oldest and finest example of Spanish Architecture. It also happens to be the most expensive house in Sydney.
Sean Ambrose’s (the bad guy) hideout is Bare Island Fort in Botany Bay, just outside of Sydney. Towards the end of the movie Tom Cruise, all suited up in a leather jacket, rides a motorbike across the bridge on the island away from a great ball of fire. You can visit the island with guided tours that run regularly.
Superman Returns (2006)
Trailer - Image thanks to Superman Homepage
When Superman returned to the silver screen back in 2006 he set down his home in Sydney. Because of the nature of the movie, leaning heavily on built sets and CGI, it was mostly filmed at Sydney’s Fox Studios. They did, on occasion, need to head out into the real world and use some live locations. The “Newhart Federal Bank” is actually the University House at the University of Newcastle, which you can find around Civic Park and King Street, Newcastle, about 2 hours north of Sydney.
Martin Place seems be a popular space to film. Much like the Matrix, Superman Returns uses it for some downtown metropolis action. After a rampaging driver almost takes out a crowd, Superman manges to stop it at the same fountain as the training scene in the Matrix.
Dead Calm (1989)
Dead calm is an all around Aussie classic. Directed by Phillip Noyce, who also directed the classic Rabbit Proof Fence, and it even stars Australia’s very own Nicole Kidman. Dead Calm was all filmed Australia. It took 14-weeks in winter to film and they went all over the Whitsundays. If you’re ever in Queensland, it’s definitely a great place to go and the beauty of the beaches can’t be matched. There’s a reason why they used the Whitsundays!
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Over the years Australia has secretly played the extra in loads of awesome films. The country is just packed to the rafters with amazing landscape and modern cities that filmmakers are always keen to get their hands on. From the desert sands to snowy mountains to hectic metropolises Australia has it all. When it comes to stunning scenery for the silver screen, New Zealand better look out, Australia is on it’s way to being top dog. So when your next in Australia, why don’t you see some of these awesome locations? If they’re good enough to be in a blockbuster, they’re totally worth checking out.
About The Author:
Ben is a traveller first and a writer second. He first caught the travel bug in his childhood, where once a year his family would travel to a new place so they could get closer together and explore the world. Since then he has dedicated the small budget he has to adventuring to new places. His goal in life is to visit every country there is, or at least as many as he can.