AUSTRALIA - NEW SOUTH WALES

Sydney

We start our exploration through Sydney close to one of Australia’s best known landmarks: the Sydney Harbour Bridge. We do not start on or under the bridge, but in its surroundings, on the corner of Argyle Road and Harrington Street. Here we are supposed to meet Janice of Sydney MOVIE Tours. A couple of weeks before we travelled down under, we booked a half day coach tour, over the internet.

At exactly 9 am, as agreed, a silver SUV pulls up. We are today’s two only guests on the tour. We get acquainted with Janice and our driver. It looks like, being today’s VIPs, we will get more than just spoilt! To get warmed up, we get our VIP names. I will be Hugh Jackman and Ilse will play Cate Blanchett for the day. Our movie tour through the city centre and suburbs is added lustre to by an audio CD that gives historical and architectural background information. We cannot give away all the secrets of this tour, but we’ll take you with us to some very recognizable filming locations.

Not to far from our starting point, in Argyle Place, we find our first two locations. We start with the Sydney Observatory. Today, we are not interested in the observatory itself, but all the more in the stairs leading to it.

In MI:2 we see Tom Cruise running up these steps. This leads us right to the next location: the church at the bottom of the stairs. This building features as the background of the Sevilla scene, as the Christian pilgrims burn their Saints. This church is actually the oldest (stone) church in Australia.

From here we can make our way into the financial centre of Sydney on foot. You can also take the subway to our next location. Almost every CityRail Line come through Wynyard Station. At Wynyard Park we come across multiple scenes from several blockbuster movies. We start with the station itself, or in fact the office block on top of it. This building and the park in front of it, feature as the children’s hospital in Superman Returns.

Next to the station, you cannot miss the AWA Tower. This 15 story high communication building dates from the 1930s. It can be seen clearly, twice in The Matrix, during the helicopter scene, when Neo en Trinity rescue Morpheus.

On the northern corner of Margaret Street and Carrington Street stands an eye-catching office block (see photo). It also featured in The Matrix as Metacortex, the office of Tomas  Anderson (Neo).

It’s black tinted blinds are very recognizable from the movie. You can image why Neo took his changes with Agent Smith, instead of climbing onto the scaffold.

Not far from Wynyard, in Hunter Street, you can find the spot where Neo makes his phone call and does the “Superman-thing” at the very end of the movie.

If you walk down from this location in Pitt Street, you come by a very familiar site. On the corner with Martin Place there is a fountain. "Were you listening to me, or were you looking for the woman in the red dress?". That’s right. This is the spot where Neo first learns about the Agents in The Matrix.

On the corner of Martin Place and Castlereagh Street, stands the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (the former Colonial State Bank), which features in The Matrix as the military compound where the Agents hold Morpheus imprisoned.

Walk on into Martin Place. On your left you'll see the buildings of Channel 7. Through the giant windows, you can actually look into the news studios. At the end of Martin Place you walk up to the Sydney Hospital. The hospital featured in Babe, Pig in the City. When you walk around the main building you come into the courtyard. In the movie you can see one of the main characters ride her bike around the fountain.

Also in the financial centre in Bent Street, you find a skyscraper with a very distinctive rooftop. Even from the ground, its outline is very recognizable from MI:2. This office block, that actually houses the ministry of agriculture, is the head office of BioCyte in the movie.

Not only the exteriors, but also the lobby can be seen briefly in the movie when Brendan Gleeson's character, Mr. McCloy, steps into his limo.

Across the street from this skyscraper, stands a strange round building on the corner of O'Connell Street. It can be seen in the Australian comedy The Man Who Sued God.

Another two locations from The Matrix Trilogy can be found in St James Station on the corner of Hyde Park and near Central Station.                                                                                                                                                                                 St James Station hosts two scenes. The first can be found at the entrance. In the movie The Matrix Revolutions you see our heroes jump over the electronic checkpoints here. The second scene was shot on the platforms.                                                The Location at Central Station can be found under the overpass on the crossroads of Eddy Avenue and Elizabeth Street. Here Neo is picked up in a black car by Trinity, Switch and Apoc in the first Matrix movie.

Just about every movie of which the story takes place in Australia, shows a shot of the Sydney Opera House and the Harbour Bridge. These two landmarks are probably the best known of all Australia. It would be impossible to name all films in which these touristic attractions feature. We just stick with MI:2.

If you stand in The Royal Botanic Gardens, you can make a matching shot of both the bridge and the opera house through the threes.

It is here that Thandy Newton's character, Nyah, and Tom Cruise's character, Ethan Hunt, meet at the end of the movie. In the scene you see lots of people in the park enjoying a picnic or children playing. On an average day, there are not many people here, apart from the couches with tourists who make a photo stop here.

Another touristic highlight, not far from here, is Lady Macquarie's Chair at Mrs Macquaries Point. It is actually a stone bench, cut out in the rocks by Governor Lachlan in the early 1800s for his wife, who came here to look over the harbour bay, which must have looked completely different at the time. At the shore at the opposite side, lies yet another location of MI:2. But more on that, later on.

Near Moore Park, behind the Sydney Cricket Ground lie the Fox Studios Australia. There used to be a guided tour and a souvenir shop on the grounds. We never got a reply on our e-mails to the booking office, and unfortunately the Fox shop is now a boutique for children’s clothes. You can still go onto the Old Sydney Showground. When you walk around the ground, you can find several production offices and a sound stage.

                                    

Quite some smash hit movies were shot in the different stages surrounding the ground. Big names as Star Wars Episodes II & III, the Matrix Trilogy, Moulin Rouge! and Holy Smoke were filmed here. Future project that are being produced here are Wonder Woman and X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Also different tv-shows as Popstars, Australian Idol and the Australian edition of Big Brother were hosted here.

The professional entrance of the Fox Studios lies in Driver Avenue. It is not open to the public and there are security guards at the gate. Nevertheless, we managed to get onto the grounds for a very brief moment to make several photos.

Before we go over the Harbour Bridge to the Northern Shore and beaches, we first go 16 km south east of the Sydney central business district. At the Botany Bay Reef you find Bare Island. Bare Island is connected to the mainland by a footbridge. The historical military fort can only be visited by guided tour. This trip is worth the stretch, if you know that Bare Island featured as the BioCyte production plant from the thrilling finale of M:I-2. The Fort is open to the public. There are 3 guided tours on Sundays only at 1.30pm, 2.30pm and 3.30pm. Tickets need to be purchased   in the Laperouse Museum in the park in front of the fort.

It is now time to make our way back north, way north over the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Don’t forget that the Harbour Bridge is a toll bridge and that you will need to pay 3 Australian Dollar on your way back, going southbound. There is no toll charges going northbound. If you cross the bridge on foot, you also do not have to pay.

While you drive over the bridge, you might reflect on Paul Hogan, the Australian actor who gave figure to Crocodile Dundee, and started his first job working on the bridge. The Sydney Harbour Bridge used to be under a regime of continuous maintenance painting with lead-based paint. Paul Hogan used to be one of the painter working on the bridge.

At the northern shore you can make a beautiful, almost aerial shot, from the Sydney Opera house. Do NOT just pull over the car for your photo. You will need to come back here on foot for your picture.

From the bridge we continue our way in the direction of the Toranga Zoo. In Ashton Park on Bradley’s Head, you find HMAS Sydney Mast.

Just next to the car park you see a small open field with a pier. You are now standing on the exact place of Sean Ambrose’s villa in MI:2. The complete villa was a set piece and was constructed here, just for the filming of the movie.

The house was completely torn down after the shooting was completed. You can actually walk onto the pier and stand where Thandy Newton and Dougray Scott kiss. ‘Now that’s a proper welcome !’ <<Billy in MI:2>>

We end off with a chapter on our favourite Australian television show Home and Away. Here at the North Shore, we find numerous filming locations around the beaches.

We start with the most northern location and work our way back south. The first location is The Maitland Goal in East Maitland. It was here that Dani Sutherland served some time, after she was convicted for attempted murder on Kane. The Maitland Goal was actually a prison and was taken out of use in 1998 and is now open to the public.

One of the most beautiful beaches here is Palm Beach. It is very understandable that the producers chose this peninsula as the heart of Summer Bay. Completely on top of Palm Beach stands The Barrenjoey Lighthouse. The lighthouse can be frequently seen in a montage sequence. The sandy beach here, is where most of the waterside action in the series is shot. The benches alongside and the footpaths leading up to the beach are very recognizable from the show.

The second most identifiable location here is the North Palm Beach Surf Life Saving Club. This building, with its very distinctive windows and rooftop, houses the Summer Bay Surf Club. At the waterfront you can actually see the nameplate from the series.

At the opposite side of this tongue of land lies another bay: Station Beach. On  the very southern end of this beach you can find the storm water drain, which can be seen in several episodes.

Another important location here is the Seaplane Wharf. It actually featured in the show as the seaplane wharf and also as the pier leading up to the Blaxland.

On our way south, in Etival Street, we come across the location of the old Bayside Diner, which burned down on the show. Not far from here, on Whale Beach Road we find the houses of the Hunter and the Holden families. Now, both locations lie on private property. Please, do NOT go onto the grounds for your photos.

Further south on Queens Parade we find the Newport Mirage Hotel. It featured as the Sands Resort in different episodes.

Just across the bay from the hotel lies a pier. The Roland Reserve in Pittwater Road is the old wharf and home of the Blaxland.

At the other side of the bay, at McCarr's Creek Reserve lies the new wharf. Since 2004, this spot is used as the new docking pier for the boat.

It would be impossible to sum up all Home and Away filming locations. Neither did we cover the locations of the Australian films shot around Sydney. For more movie set locations we refer to the walking and coach tours of Sydney MOVIE Tours.

 

 


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movie-set-locations is copyright Niek Verniers 2007
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