Friday 13 November 2009

South Australia: Ready for its Close-up, Mr DeMille

A few weeks ago when I was at the cinema waiting for arthouse flick An Education to start, I caught the trailer for the new Scott Hicks/Clive Owen drama The Boys are Back.

It was one of those annoying trailers that feel like the five minute "marketer's cut", showing you a linear summary of the entire movie, but it did look good from a cinematographic point of view.

Turns out that despite its British star, the The Boys are Back was filmed in South Australia. Locations are mostly along the attractive Fleurieu Peninsula south of Adelaide, with scenes shot at places such as Aldinga Beach and Myponga Beach.

There are also scenes at Hahndorf in the Adelaide Hills, and at Dog Ridge Wines in the McLaren Vale wine region. City scenes take place in Adelaide, shot in the offices of The Advertiser newspaper, the Majestic Roof Garden Hotel, and at Gouger Street bar Sangria.

Interestingly, the South Australian Tourism Commission is one of the partners backing the film, and is using it as the basis of an international tourism promotion. It's not that long since Tourism Australia bankrolled a similar campaign in conjunction with Baz Luhrmann's Australia, producing mixed results, so it'll be interesting to see how well this one does in drawing visitors to SA.

Although I've been to South Australia a few times, I've never visited or written about any movie locations there. However, there have been stacks of films shot in South Australia over the years, sometimes standing in for other places.

Here are five of the more prominent:

Picnic at Hanging Rock
(1975): Though most of the movie was filmed at the actual rock, the girls' school, Appleyard Hall, is in fact Martindale Hall in South Australia.

Storm Boy (1976): A popular family film when I was a kid, this movie featured a boy and his pelican in the coastal Coorong region.

Breaker Morant (1980): An array of South Australian locations stood in convincingly for South Africa in this courtroom drama taking place during the Boer War.

Rabbit-Proof Fence (2002): A movie with a Western Australian location which was mostly shot in SA, in diverse places from Lake Torrens to the Gibson Desert.

Wolf Creek (2005): Successful horror flick almost entirely filmed in the South Australian outback, though it includes some aerial shots of the actual Wolfe Creek crater in WA.

It's a bit too early to predict how The Boys are Back will fare in cinemas, as it's only just opened in Australia, but so far the reaction at IMDb seems good. And if it turns out to not be your cup of tea, you can at least soothe yourself by watching the pretty locations. Or if you're from South Australia, by playing the "Now where is that?" game.

COMPETITION: Courtesy of film distributor Hopscotch Films, I have ten double passes to give away to the Australian season of The Boys are Back. To score a double pass, send an email to with the following info:

- Your full name and town/suburb;
- Your postal address for me to mail the pass to;
- A short paragraph about a movie location you've visited anywhere in the world and what it was like; or a movie location you'd like to visit and why.

The first ten complete entries will gain a double pass. Only entries with the above info will be eligible, and by entering you grant me the right to use the material for free, perpetually and non-exclusively, in a future blog post about travel to movie locations (but you will be credited!).

Unfortunately entry is only open to Australian residents - sorry about that. But if you'd like to send in a paragraph about your movie location experiences to be used in a future post anyway, please do.

That's it! The competition ends at midnight on Sunday 22 November, so enter now!


  1. I loved being at Petra in Jordan, where parts of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade were filmed. I think I was a bit more excited about the fact Harrison Ford had been there than the fact it was an ancient Roman-era city that had been hidden for centuries.

  2. Handorf is not in the Barossa Valley it's in the Adelaide Hills.

  3. Thanks for the correction! I've fixed it now.