The majority of Australian television programs have been filmed in Sydney and Melbourne. In Sydney, the major output was by the Seven Network, whose studios were for many years located in Epping, on Sydney s North Shore. Initially, most of the dramatic TV programs that came out of Melbourne either originated with the ABC (their studios were at Ripponlea TV studios in Elsternwick), or Crawford Productions, a production house set up in 1945 by Hector Crawford and his sister, Dorothy, to produce radio programs. Crawfords would go on to pioneer television drama in Australia.
(1966-1968) - Skippy the Bush Kangaroo is an Australian television series for children, telling the adventures of a young boy and his intelligent pet kangaroo, in the (fictional) Waratah National Park, near Sydney, New South Wales. Ninety-one 30-minute episodes were made over the three seasons of production, and starred Ed Devereaux, Garry Pankhurst, Ken James, Tony Bonner and Liza Goddard. The real star of the show, of course, was Skippy, a wild female Eastern Grey Kangaroo, befriended by Sonny Hammond, the younger son of the Head Ranger of Waratah National Park. Between nine and fifteen kangaroos were actually used for each show. The TV series was widely screened overseas on some 80 countries, except Sweden where it was banned as psychologists there believed that the show would mislead children into believing animals could do things that they couldn't. The series was revived in 1992 as the short-lived The Adventures of Skippy using an entirely new cast including Andrew Clarke, plot and location with several children, including Craig Tommy Lee Di Topp, as the stars.
The series was shot in northern Sydney's Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park on the fringes of the suburb of Belrose. A wildlife park was created here and named Waratah Park after the park in the TV show. Pride of place was given to the Ranger Headquarters, the inside set was retained for posterity. The site still has much of the original film set including the Ranger Headquarters and until the close of the Waratah Park Earth Sanctuary in 2006. Waratah Park remains closed. Attempts to save the park from redevelopment and return it to its former state are underway by Waratah Park Nature Reserve Foundation Inc.
Number 96 (1972-1977)
This was the leading TV soap in Australia during the 1970s, no doubt because it reflected the changing society of the time, especially when it came to relationships. When the series premiered on Channel 10 in March 1972, viewers were presented with a level of titillation and taboo subjects that had never been seen on Australian television before, and the event came to be known as the night Australian television lost its virginity . No 96 will stand the test of time if for no other reason than because gave viewers the first full frontal seen (of Abigail) on Australian TV.
Leading cast members included Johnny Lockwood, Philippa Baker, Gordon McDougall, Sheila Kennelly, Pat McDonald Ron Shand and Bunney Brooke. Long-running characters Dorrie and Herb Evans, Flo Patterson, Don Finlayson, Arnold Feather, and Reg and Edie MacDonald, all continued in the series to the end. 83 Moncur Street, in the Sydney suburb of Woollahra is the apartment block used for the exterior shots of the TV soap, No. 96. All internals were filmed in a studio.
Chopper Squad (1977-1978)
Network Ten's Australian variation on the American TV show Baywatch, only a helicopter is used for rescues instead of boats. Starring Dennis Grosvenor, Robert Coleby, Eric Oldfield Rebecca Gilling and Tony Bonner, the first series had the team based at Dee Why Surf Club on Sydney's northern beaches, but in the second series the location was shifted to North Palm Beach. Most external shots were filmed along Sydney's northern beaches such as Mona Vale, Collaroy, Dee Why, Newport, Avalon and Palm Beach. Water sequences in Sydney always pose a potential problem with sharks - some scenes near Palm Beach were filmed in an area which local fishermen referred to as shark alley. A stuntman in scuba gear, often Rangi Nicholls, would usually be sent down to look out for sharks during water filming.
The real-life Wales Rescue helicopter, a Bell Jet Ranger 2, was used in filming. It was sponsored by the then Bank of New South Wales (now Westpac), and was used for filming Chopper Squad during the week. On weekends the helicopter was engaged in actual rescue work based at Long Reef, near Collaroy. When the series was completed the aircraft was used full time as a rescue helicopter, transferring for tourist flights around Ayers Rock in 1995.
A Country Practice (1981-1993)
One of the longest-running Australian television dramas, it ran on the Seven Network for 1,058 episodes. The show followed a medical practice in the small fictional New South Wales country town of Wandin Valley. The show s stories focused on the staff of the practice and the hospital and their families, and through weekly guest characters frequently patients served by the practice various social and medical problems were explored. A Country Practice has also become well-known for its number of guest stars appearances, including Baz Luhrmann, Smokey Dawson, John Meillon, Sir Robert Helpmann and even the Australian Prime Minister Bob Hawke made a cameo appearance in 1986. Nicole Kidman, Toni Collette and Simon Baker also had guest roles in the series before going on to international fame.
Most of the outdoors scenes of Wandin Valley were actually filmed in and around the Windsor area towns of Pitt Town and Ebenezer. Scot s Church (1862), Pitt Town, was Wandin Valley church. The heritage house opposite Pitt Town Public School, on the corner of Buckingham and Chatham Streets, appeared in the opening credits and was used as the home of characters Frank and Shirley Gilroy. Muldoon Store is now a garage with petrol pumps, in the main intersection of Pitt Town (Church and Bathurst). Wandin Valley Store is now the Bird in Hand Pub in the main intersection of Eldon and Bathurst. The Clinic is located at the corner of Arndell and North Court (a private home).
Molly's Farm is located on St John's Road on the right hand side just up from the intersection with Cattai Ridge Road. Wandin Valley Bush Hospital is located at 29 Clare Crescent off Wolseley Road (a private home). Doctor Terence Elliot's home after he moved from upstairs of the clinic is at 695 Sackville Road, Camelot (private home). Indoor scenes were filmed at Channel Seven's studios in Epping, Sydney. Filming of A Country Practice in the fictional town of Wandin Valley was moved to Emerald in the Dandenong Ranges near Melbourne when the show moved to Network Ten (30 episodes screen from April to November 1994).
All Saints (1998-2009)
All Saints has featured popular Australian actors such as Georgie Parker, Erik Thomson, Libby Tanner, Tammy MacIntosh, Judith McGrath, John Howard, John Waters, Chris Vance and Natasha Beaumont. Judith McGrath was the only original cast member to continue the show's entire run.
The series was set in a fictional Sydney suburban hospital called All Saints Western General Hospital. The external shots, including sweeping views of the skyline and hospital, were filmed at the Concord Repatriation General Hospital, Sydney. Hornsby Ku-ring-gai Hospital in Sydney was also used for external filming and for some interior locations such as the operating theatres.
Mother and Son (1984-1994)
Loosely based on the cult Carl Reiner comedy feature Where s Poppa?, Mother and Son starred veteran actress Ruth Cracknell played the ageing Maggie Beare; an independent and determined woman gradually becoming senile but who has, nevertheless, retained a difficult stubbornness and shrewd manipulative streak. This was most evident in her relationship with her sons (Garry MacDonald and Henri Szeps) , whom she manipulated in order to get away with more than she was entitled to. The storylines addressed the problem of ageing and caring for somebody with Alzheimer's disease with an often sharp-edged humour which carried with it a tinge of sadness.
Despite its unlikely subject-matter for a comedy, the show was a popular favourite with audiences. Maggie and Arthur's relationship was presented with a fascinating complexity Maggie's cruel attacks on and emotional manipulation of Arthur disguised her deep dependence on and need of him, and Arthur's dutiful love of Maggie was constantly in conflict with his guilty frustration at the huge limitations for his own life which looking after his mother entailed. The set of the Beare family home was at the ABC Studios at Gore Hill, Sydney. Externals of the house and street were at No.16 Rickard Street, Rodd Point, NSW.
Water Rats (1996-2001)
Balmain has been home to more than any suburb s fair share of soapy television, including E Street and Water Rats. This series was based around the men and women of the Sydney Water Police who fight crime across Sydney Harbour and surrounding locales. The main actors included Colin Friels, Catherine McClements, Steve Bisley, Aaron Pedersen and Dee Smart.
The show was set on and around Goat Island in Sydney Harbour. The real Sydney Water Police headquarters was located at Pyrmont, the TV version of the Sydney Water Police headquarters was located on Goat Island, though the fictional address was 48/50 Harbour Drive, Sydney 2000.
In the episode Epiphany , Matt Barnes took Rachel Goldstein and climbed the Sydney Harbour Bridge for a negotiators exercise. The Rocks was used for external shots of Frank s house. During the season two final, Rachel and Frank search for killer Brian Atkins in the underground tunnels of the Australian Army Artillery Museum at North Head. White Bay Power Station was used a number of times, most notably, Catherine McClements last episode A Day at the Office . Early in the series, real morgues were used to film in. Eventually a set was built on Goat Island. Internal scenes were shot at Channel 9 Studios, Willoughby, Sydney.
Home And Away (from 1988)
Home and Away is a long running soap that chronicles the lives, loves, happiness, and heart-breaks of the residents of Summer Bay, a small coastal town in New South Wales. The beach and most outdoor shots surrounding the town are filmed at Palm Beach, Barrenjoey Peninsula on Sydney s northern beaches. The most recognisable feature of Palm Beach from the TV series is the Surf Club. It is the North Palm Beach Surf Life Saving Club at Governor Phillip Park, Palm Beach.
Bushland around Pittwater is used for bush scenes. Caravan Park scenes were shot between 2007 and 2009 at Duffys Forest at Waratah Park Earth Sanctuary, where Skippy The Bush Kangaroo was filmed. Martha s Farm is at Windsor. The Bayside Diner was an iconic location in the show for 11 years before Colleen burnt it down in 2000, forcing Alf and Ailsa to move to the Beachside Diner. The building used as the original diner stands at the end of Etival Street, overlooking Careel Bay at the southern end of the suburb of Palm Beach.
The Beachside Diner is at Fishermans Beach in Collaroy, half an hour south of Palm Beach off Anzac Avenue. It houses a Surf Rescue base and also the Long Reef Visitor s Room, which opens on a regular basis to provide information and guided walks around the Long Reef reserve. The 2008 season marked the last time that the building was seen on screen. The Beachside Diner was deemed unsafe for use following an earth tremor, forcing the Diner to move to its new location at Palm Beach.
The shopping precinct in Darley Street, Forestville has been used since 2004 for the location of Yabbie Creek. Summer Bay House, the only house to still be seen on screen since the Pilot episode, was destroyed in December 2002 when bushfires ripped through the Jackeroo Ranch estate in Kenthurst. By the end of 2009, almost an exact reproduction of Summer Bay House had been rebuilt in its original location with the exception of a grey roof instead of a red one.
Internals were shot at Channel 7's studios in Mobbs Lane, Epping, NSW from 1989 to 2009. The are now filmed at ATN-7 current studios at Eveleigh, Redfern, NSW.
White Collar Blue (2002-2003)
A 44-episode Australian police drama series made for Network Ten. Peter O Brien stars as Joe Hill, a streetwise cop used to getting his own way, and his new partner Harriet Walker, played by Freya Stafford, who is about to change all that. Joe has an ex-wife Nicole Brown who wants to become a police officer at the Kingsway Station. The series is set in Kingsway, which is the frontline in the war against crime. Locations include many easily identifiable places in and around Sydney. These include the Miami-like streets of Sylvania Waters, the towering cranes on the Container Wharves of Botany Bay, the white beaches and blue water of Botany Bay between Monterey and Hungry Point, and Cronulla further south.