Our Guide to Filming Locations in Australia
Published on: September 19th, 2019
Last modified: July 28th, 2023
With cosmopolitan cities, outback adventure and idyllic beaches, Australia has been the location of choice for many of the world’s favourite films.
From Crocodile Dundee to Baz Luhrmann’s Australia, the landscapes in the land down under have helped to produce some of the world’s classics.
Read on for our guide to the most impressive filming locations in Australia.
A couple of the world’s greatest films were shot in Sydney, and with world-class beaches and iconic landmarks, it’s not hard to see why. As the largest city in Australia, Sydney’s markets, fountains, skyscrapers and parks make the perfect backdrop for classic sci-fi films like The Matrix (1999) and more recent flicks like Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby (2013).
In The Matrix, Sydney’s central business district hotspots of Miller’s Point, Martin Place and Sydney Harbour Bridge all play their parts as the phone box at ‘Wells and Lake’ and the spot where Morpheus explains what the matrix is respectively. For Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby, Sydney’s sprawling Centennial Park is used to portray the decadent Gatsby’s estate. The movie’s legacy lives on here, with the park drawing cinephiles from near and far for Moonlight Cinema – evening screenings of classic films – held from mid-December to late March each year.
New South Wales
With a diverse environment of incredible beaches, coral reefs, dramatic mountains and the sun-baked dunes of the outback, it’s no surprise that the state of New South Wales is the location of choice for many a cult film. An iconic film for the LGBTQ+ community, The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (1994) sees a trio of drag queens venture from Sydney’s Imperial Hotel across the outback to the remote town of Alice Springs.
Although the setting is commonly mistaken for rural English countryside, the family-friendly film Babe (1995) was actually shot in director George Noonan’s and producer George Millers’ native Australia. The main setting, ‘Hogett’s Farm,’ was created in the rolling green countryside town of Robertson, around 80 miles south of Sydney.
A truly Australian outfit, the small-town film Jindabyne (2006) does what it says on the tin and centres around the New South Wales town of Jindabyne. This film is beautifully shot, and the barren landscapes of the town add to the darkness of this murder mystery. It’s not one for the faint-hearted!
Melbourne and Victoria
The cosmopolitan city of Melbourne is the birthplace of the world’s first feature length film, The Story of the Kelly Gang (1906). A bushranger film, this Australian original traces the exploits of 19th-century bushranger and outlaw Ned Kelly and his gang. Directed by Charles Tait and shot in and around Melbourne, this classic does a great job of showcasing the Australia of the yesteryears.
Further afield, at 70 kilometres drive northwest of Melbourne, the ancient volcanic boulders of Hanging Rock provide the haunting setting for Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975). Based on one of the most revered Australian novels, Picnic at Hanging Rock traces the mysterious disappearance of schoolgirls and their teacher amongst the Victoria wilderness.
With its 12,000 kilometres of epic coastline, it’s no surprise that Western Australia is the setting of an incredible arthouse surfing drama. Breath (2017) is actor Simon Baker’s directorial debut, and revolves around the story of two teenage boys on their coming of age journey as they navigate grief, thrill-seeking and surfing. Based on a melancholic novel, Breath (2017) showcases Western Australia’s scenery like never before.
Moving away from horror and into epic journeys across far away lands, the Outback & Northern Territory have produced global classics such as Crocodile Dundee (1986).Parts of global box office hit Crocodile Dundee were shot in the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Kakadu National Park, no doubt contributing to its success. With 10,000 resident crocodiles here, it makes sense that this was chosen as the prime filming spot.
Although Baz Luhrmann’s homage to the land down under Australia (2008) was shot across four different locations in the country, the majority of filming took place in and around north Queensland. Two months of filming took place in the north Queensland town of Bowen, doubling as the Darwin waterfront. As romantic drama Australia is set whilst the globe is on the brink of WWII, the sets in this north Queensland town also provided the backdrop for the bombing raids of 1942.
The great open plains of the island of Tasmania have been sought after by filmmakers for years, and a particularly poignant film to recently come out of the island is Lion (2016). Telling the story of a young Indian boy adopted by an Australian couple, Lion (2016) follows protagonist Saroo as he sets out from Australia to retrace his roots in India. The main Australian filming locations include Mount Wellington, Cape Hauy and Bruny Island, and this Oscar-nominated flick does a great job of showcasing Tasmania to the masses.