Sure, many Australians celebrate Australia Day with a BBQ, a game of cricket, or listening to Triple J’s Hottest 100, but if you’re stumped for ideas for how to commemorate being an Aussie, why not settle in and watch some beloved home-grown television, which showcases the cities and landscapes we call home?
Here’s a dozen times Australian locations became their own pivotal characters in television:
Love My Way (Sydney)
The eastern suburbs became the backdrop for Foxtel’s critically acclaimed drama starring Claudia Karvan, Asher Keddie, Brendan Cowell and Dan Wylie. Karvan, who played central character Frankie, actually found the location for her character’s home herself, spotting it during a drive around Dover Heights. Sydney-siders watching the series created by John Edwards will also be able to spot Bondi, Malabar, Darlinghurst and a pivotal, heart-breaking moment from season one in Centennial Park.
Find Love My Way on DVD.
Another one from television producer John Edwards, hit series Offspring was something of a love letter to Melbourne’s inner north, particularly Fitzroy. It starred Asher Keddie as anxiety-ridden obstetrician Nina Proudman as she tries to balance her career, love life and chaotic demanding family. The popularity of Offspring is so high, Victoria tourism has even made it easy for fans, compiling a list of locations to visit and even a walking tour starting in Brunswick Street. With season six announced by Network Ten to air this year, expect to see more spots added to that list.
House of Hancock (Perth, the Pilbara)
Much of Perth was recreated in Sydney locations for this mini-series about Gina Rinehart, except for scenes at iconic Kings Park. However nothing could stand in for the Pilbara, with filming taking place in 40-plus degree heat in the region where the Hancock family discovered the world’s largest deposit of iron ore. Some reviews spoke of the Pilbara’s sweeping landscapes as a highlight of the popular two-part series, which starred Sam Neill as Lang Hancock, Mandy McElhinney as his daughter Gina and Peta Sergeant as his Filipina housekeeper-turned-wife.
House of Hancock is available on DVD.
Secrets and Lies (Brisbane)
Brisbane took centre stage in Channel Ten’s six-part drama series, whose story was so intriguing it caught the eye of the US and led them to create their own successful version of the show. Viewers could spot Brisbane River and the inner suburb of Ashgrove in the series, about a father who becomes the no. 1 suspect in the murder of a boy who lives in his street after discovering his body. Producer Leigh McGrath told The Courier Mail how despite the fact that Brisbane is rarely seen on screens, it was hugely important to their story. “The river, the unique houses and the tropical surrounds – as well as the heat and humidity of Brisbane in summer – are an integral part of the story,” he said.
Secrets and Lies is available on iTunes.
8MMM (Alice Springs)
A “bold… ground-breaking” comedy series from the ABC, 8MMM follows an unfunded Aboriginal radio station in Alice Springs, happily ignoring the political correctness that often dogs this kind of subject matter. Proof? The “M’s” in the title refer to the three kinds of whitefellas that work for Aboriginal organisations – missionaries, mercenaries and misfits. Created by actor and writer Trisha Morton-Thomas with Brindle Films, it’s filmed in and around Alice Springs, creating an authenticity alongside the humour.
8MMM is available on DVD.
The Code (Canberra)
Shelley Birse’s tense ABC political thriller The Code was given access to the inside (and outside) of Parliament House – something of a coup given the story centres around media manipulation and cover-ups from the upper echelons of government. The Canberra locations add a layer of authenticity to this story of two brothers – one a journalist and the other a hacker – who post a leaked video online and find their lives in danger. The drama unravels between the burbs of Canberra, with characters strolling along Parliament’s corridors and getting into struggles near Lake Burley Griffin, and Broken Hill, where the supposed conspiracy occurred. A gripping watch, the acclaimed thriller has already finished filming Season Two, so expect more of those Canberra landscapes in the future.
Find The Code on DVD.
McLeod’s Daughters (western edge of the Barossa)
The eight seasons of this hit TV show (which ran from 2001 to 2008) were largely set at Drovers Run – the fictional family farm Tess and Claire McLeod became determined to run. Although it’s a fictional farm, the location itself is a real sheep/cattle property known as Kingsford. Built in 1856 and about 45 minutes from Adelaide, it had many other lives before being bought by Channel 9 under Kerry Packer and run like a working farm for filming of McLeod’s Daughters, with “100 cattle, 250 sheep, 15 horses, working dogs and a team of stockmen”. Scenes indoors were actually filmed inside the house and the set was closed off to the public during production. Fans can now dine and even stay at the Kingsford Homestead, which has been converted to a five-star retreat.
Redfern Now (Sydney)
It’s not that hard to guess the location of this acclaimed drama, which has won a dozen awards including the Silver Logie for Most Outstanding Drama Series in 2013 and 2014, and the 2014 AACTA Award for Best Television Drama Series. It tells the contemporary stories of Indigenous Australians living in the inner west suburb of Redfern, with a cast including Wayne Blair and Leah Purcell (who also direct episodes).
Upper Middle Bogan (Melbourne)
This ABC comedy series created by Gristmill’s Robyn Butler and Wayne Hope looked at the culture clash of two families living on either side of Melbourne’s freeway. Anxious middle-class doctor Bess (Annie Maynard) finds out by accident that she was adopted, and discovers her birth parents (Glenn Robbins and Robyn Malcolm) and their children run a drag racing team in Melbourne’s outer suburbs. Creating the posh side of town was a Brighton East townhouse, which doubles as the home of Bess’s mother (played by Robyn Nevin). It went under the hammer back in 2014, selling for $1.7 million, while Calder Park Raceway was another important location for the series.
Kath & Kim (Melbourne)
This ‘noice, different and unusual’ satirical series ran for four seasons, first on ABC and then Seven Network, starring Jane Turner and Gina Riley as mother-daughter duo Kath and Kim. Set in the fictional Melbourne suburb of Fountain Lakes, it was mainly filmed in Patterson Lakes, at a townhouse in Lagoon Street, which doubled as the Kath and Kel Knight’s home. Other locations in the series included Westfield’s Fountain Gate shopping centre, Southland shopping centre and Flemington Racecourse.
Find Kath & Kim on DVD.
A Place to Call Home (Sydney)
A suburb just outside Camden, in south-west Sydney, has been getting a tourism boost in the last couple of years thanks to the series A Place to Call Home. It’s because Kirkham is the home to a heritage-listed mansion called Camelot – a primary location for the ensemble television series starring Noni Hazelhurst and Marta Dusseldorp. It’s the home of the wealthy pastoralist Bligh family in the 1950s rural drama, which was picked up by Foxtel to air on its SoHo channel after Seven Network passed on a third season.
And coming up…
It hasn’t shone just yet, but Tasmania’s stunning atmospheric landscapes will be on display in not one, but two upcoming drama series. Foxtel’s The Kettering Incident was filmed around in Kettering (about 30 kilometres south of Hobart) and spots such as Bruny Island, the Huon Valley and the Norske Skog paper mill at Boyer. They provided the perfect backdrop for the series, described as a “gripping mystery”, which stars Offspring’s Matt Le Nevez, Elizabeth Debicki from The Great Gatsby, and The Dressmaker’s Sascha Horler. Meanwhile, with a far lighter tone is ABC’s Rosehaven, by Utopia’s Celia Pacquola and Luke McGregor. Described by Pacquola to The Screen Blog as “a buddy comedy” it’s expected to film this year. “It’s us as total best mates, being rad in Tasmania… It’s art imitating life, except in Tasmania, because I live in Melbourne,” Pacquola said.