With its unique and dramatic landscape, Australia has set the backdrop for a number of iconic films throughout history. Check out these real-life filming locations around Australia and discover some incredible scenery – and fascinating Australian film trivia – while you’re at it.
Southern Highlands, NSW: Babe
Perhaps the world’s most beloved pig, Babe stole our hearts with his dreams of becoming a sheep-pig in the 1995 film of the name same. Although set in rural England, this movie was actually shot in the village of Robertson, in the Southern Highlands of New South Wales. But if you assumed that Babe was filmed in the UK, you’re not alone; in fact, this unexpected setting for the green pastures and rolling hills of Hoggett Farm made many cinema-goers realise that Australia isn’t just about the Outback. Although you might not be able to explore Hoggett Farm yourself (the set was constructed and removed after filming), you can still visit the equally impressive Fountaindale Grand Manor, which is located on the same street as the fictional farm from the movie.
Bare Island, NSW: Mission: Impossible II
Not only did John Woo’s Mission: Impossible II add another notch to Tom Cruise’s arsenal of action blockbusters, but it was also the highest grossing film of 2000. Set in and shot in Sydney, the film features a number of the city’s most recognisable locations, such as the Sydney Opera House, Mrs Macquarie’s Chair, and the Harbour Bridge. However, perhaps the most significant Sydney location to feature in Mission: Impossible II is Bare Island, located just off La Perouse in Botany Bay. The small island’s rugged coastline and former military base served as the secretive and heavily fortified lair of rogue agent Sean Ambrose, played by Dougray Scott. Imagine how the thrilling sequence in which Cruise and Scott race around Bare Island on motorbikes played out… but it goes without saying that this is one reenactment you shouldn’t try at home.
Hunter Valley, NSW: Tomorrow, When the War Began
Released in 2010, Tomorrow, When the War Began is the film adaptation of the best-selling novel by John Marsden. The plot follows a small group of teenagers who are forced to defend their fictional hometown of Wirrawee from a mysterious invasion. Although the Blue Mountains, Maitland, and the Luskintyre bridge all make appearances, most scenes in this movie were shot in the Hunter Valley. The town of Raymond Terrace was a principal filming location, with its quiet King Street transformed into the perilous Main Street of Wirrawee. The film’s two climactic explosions (of a house and, later, of a bridge) however, were both filmed at Terrey Hills in Sydney.
McKinlay, QLD and Kakadu National Park, NT: Crocodile Dundee
Many people would argue that Crocodile Dundee is about as Australian as a film can get. This 1986 classic was filmed in both New York City and Australia, with the remote Queensland town of McKinlay lending its pub, Walkabout Creek Hotel, as a primary location. However, the film’s iconic Outback scenes (for instance, when Mick subdues a water buffalo and kills a snake with his bare hands) were filmed in the Northern Territory’s beautiful Kakadu National Park. Dundee fanatics will note that two key scenes were filmed at Ubirr and Gunlom. Film credentials aside, both of these locations are well worth a visit in their own right: Ubirr for its sweeping views and gallery of Indigenous Australian art; and Gunlom for its idyllic waterfall and swimming hole.
Daintree Rainforest, QLD: The Thin Red Line
This epic war film boasts a star-studded cast, which includes the likes of Sean Penn, George Clooney, John Cusack, Jared Leto, Adrien Brody and John Travolta. Director Terrence Malick has originally planned to shoot the film on the historic battlefields of Guadalcanal (in the Solomon Islands), but malaria concerns and logistical issues meant that most scenes were actually filmed in the Daintree Rainforest and Bramston Beach, in north Queensland. Even if you haven’t seen this award-winning movie, there’s a good chance that these breathtaking locations will make you want to.
Broken Hill, NSW: Mad Max 2
Exploding onto the big screen in 1981, Mad Max 2 (also know as The Road Warrior) has been hailed as one of the greatest action movies – and movie sequels – of all time. Filmed around Broken Hill, in rural New South Wales, this post-apocalyptic thriller showcases plenty of Australia’s stunning desert scenery. The compound scenes were filmed in a movie set constructed at The Pinnacles (a series of three hills outside Broken Hill), while Max’s infamous Pursuit Special is shown rolling over and exploding on Menindee Road. In the nearby town of Silverton, home to only a few dozen residents, you’ll also find a pub which houses memorabilia, photos and information about all the movies filmed in this area. The town also boasts an incredible Mad Max museum, complete with original cars and props used in the cult-classic sequel. (Fun fact: the nearby Mundi Mundi Plains were also used as a filming location for Priscilla, Queen of the Desert – another iconic Australian film.)