Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Movies and TV Shows Shot in Melbourne - Part 1

Melbourne has a rich artistic tradition.

When you live here, you feel it all around you. The inner city streets are dotted with art gallery's and the laneways between them are vibrant with street art. And every pub seems to have a live band on Friday, if not every, night.

So it's no surprise that the city has served as backdrop for a number of iconic local TV shows and movies. What follows is a short list of some of these productions, highlighting whereabouts in our city they were filmed.


Was there ever a bigger production in Melbourne? Or a bigger celebrity frenzy? Four of Hollywood's biggest stars spent one very hot summer in Melbourne filming an adaptation of Nevil Shute's bleak science fiction drama; 'The Biggest Story of Our Time... !' The ups and downs of that shoot have been well documented (check out this wonderful essay on the ACMI website for a taste of it) but it's worth noting that Ava Gardner's famous quote about Melbourne - 'On the Beach is a story about the end of the world and they sure picked the right place to film it' - was actually made up by a young journalist, annoyed that he wasn't able to get an interview with her.

The city features prominently in the production, most notably Frankston Beach and various parts of the CBD.

Anthony Perkins and Donna Holmes on Frankston Beach.

A similar spot on the same beach today

Flinders Street station, as Ava Gardner runs towards it. Note
the large advertising sign on the front.

Same spot, no sign.

Bourke Street, looking up towards the State
Parliament, in the closing montage sequence.

Similar spot on the same street today.

The State Library on Swanston Street, as part
of the same montage.

The same spot looking a little cheerier.


Perhaps the definitive Australian cult film, this ultra low budget effort from 1979 made the names of both director George Miller and star Mel Gibson. It spawned two, soon to be three, sequels and kicked off a whole new sub genre; dystopian future wasteland warriors run amuck. It was filmed in various spots around the city, with the car chase scenes and climax in rural locations.

Main Force Patrol's (MFP's) headquarters in the movie...

... was actually Spotswood water pumping station.

Goose does a burnout on his way to patrol...

... in this backstreet; Claremont Street, South Yarra.

MFP's underground parking garage...

... was the Southern Carpark at Melbourne Uni.


Dogs in Space is about music, share housing, drugs and grunge (in no particular order). The late Michael Hutchence stars as the front man for the eponymous band, who all live together in a sprawling house in Richmond.

Relaxing at the Dogs in Space house.
The same house today, looking expensive,
on Berry Street, Richmond.


One of the most controversial local films I can remember, Romper Stomper depicts life among a small cabal of Melbourne neo-Nazi's and made a star out of Russell Crowe, who has an eye catching turn as their leader, Hando. Shot on location in and around Melbourne's inner suburbs, the closing scene was filmed at Point Addis, on Victoria's south coast.

The opening scene of the film shows the gang bashing a couple of Asian
kids. Onscreen, this is listed as taking place at 'Footscray Station,' but was
actually filmed at Richmond Station.
The same tunnel at Richmond train station.

The gang clash with a large group of Asians in one of the films defining sequences.

This was filmed at the Railway Hotel, Ireland Street, West Melbourne.

The dramatic final scene: skinheads on the beach

Filmed at Point Addis, near Torquay.


This wildly successful and heavily quoted low budget comedy gave us the Kerrigan family, whose mild mannered patriarch Darryl (Michael Caton) is on a mission to save the castle of the title, his house, from demolition. The film was shot mostly in the inner suburbs of Melbourne, with a few memorable scenes at the Kerrigan's 'holiday house' in the country.

The cast from the film in front of The Castle.

The real house: 3 Dagonet Street, Strathmore

The Kerrigans relax at their holiday house.

The real property: 3491 Maintongoon Road Bonnie Doon.


Set in St Kilda, The Secret Life of Us showed us the lives of hip Melbourne twenty somethings as they grappled with work, relationships and the other elements of classic soap. The show was filmed on location in the beachside suburb, with two different buildings used to depict the characters apartment block.

Samuel Johnson enters his apartment block on the show.

The real building: 14a Acland Street

A regular feature of the show was the character's drinking
and barbecuing on the roof of their building.

These scenes were shot on the roof of this building: 22a The Esplanade.

Coming up in Part 2: Malcolm, Alvin Purple, Death in Brunswick, Chopper, Stingers and maybe a few others...


  1. One of my teachers was an extra in On The Beach. He remembered Ava Gardner as looking a lot more attractive once she'd been made up for filming. :-)

  2. The essay moved:

    I assume this is the one?