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Visit Australia through these movies

If only that Tourism Australia ad that fooled the world was actually a movie right? Wouldn’t that be great entertainment to distract us from the current world situation on COVID-19 pandemic.

While it is just a pipedream still, there are still some other you beaut ripper Australian movies that can fill the boredom while in lockdown and have you travel around Australia from the comfort of your living room.

Not only are these films entertaining, but they also capture Australia’s iconic vistas and landscapes which are guaranteed to have you dreaming and planning your next holiday.

From show stopping landscapes to the essence of the larrikin spirit that Australians are known and loved for, these top 10 films will help satisfy your wanderlust and keep you entertained with a feeling like you have just caught up with your Aussie mates.

1. The Adventures of Priscilla Queen of the Desert (Film, 1994)

A film as colourful as the misconceptions surrounding Australians keeping kangaroos as pets, ‘The Adventures of Priscilla Queen of the Desert’ follows the story of two drag-queens and a transgendered woman as they road trip from Sydney’s historical Imperial Hotel to Australia’s Red Centre to perform a drag show. With didgeridoo solos and ABBA singalongs, this movie will not only have you dancing in the living room, but will also leave you wanting to plan a bucket-list trip to the Simpson Desert and Kings Canyon in Australia’s Northern Territory. Highlighting lesser-known regional towns such as Alice Springs, Coober Pedy, and Broken Hill, travellers wanting to retrace Priscilla’s steps can stop in at Lasseters Casino in Alice Springs, drive along the red Ernst Giles Road and climb to the top of Kings Canyon in Watarrka National Park.

2.  Crocodile Dundee (Film, 1986)

Mick Dundee, played by Aussie legend Paul Hogan, is synonymous with Australia. Filmed in the Northern Territory’s World Heritage-listed Kakadu National Park, ‘Crocodile Dundee’ introduced the country’s “no worries” attitude to the world. Released in 1986 it was the highest grossing film ever released in Australia (A$47.7m) and the biggest grossing foreign film ever released in America (US$174.6m). To feel like you’re in your very own scene from this classic Australian film, travellers can visit Ubirr and Gunlom Falls in Kakadu National Park once it’s safe to travel again.

3. The Castle (Film, 1997)

Centred on a working-class Australian family fighting to keep their beloved Melbourne home from being demolished, this movie is all about “the vibe”. From the Australiana wardrobe (Michael Caton’s iconic ugg boots are on display at The Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences), thick Aussie accents, and the mundane (yet timely and relatable) day-to-day activities of the family, ‘The Castle’ has continuously been commended as a homegrown masterpiece. You can watch the original version to try and decipher all the Aussie colloquialisms, or there is a more recent version that’s dubbed over in more common American lingo (not, fair dinkum!).

4. The Man from Snowy River (Film, 1982)

‘The Man from Snowy River’ is not just about sweeping plains and rugged mountain scenery – it also brings famous Australian literature from Australian bush poet, Banjo Paterson, to the big screen. Based on the poem of the same name, the film was a box office success. Tapping into Australia’s national pride, it was also recreated into a popular musical theatre production, ‘The Man from Snowy River: Arena Spectacula’, which toured Australian capital cities twice during 2002. As the story unfolds and you watch the sunrise and sunset across the beautiful terrain of the Victoria’s Snowy Mountains, you’ll too be longing for your very own horseback experiences in Australia. If watching the film gives you a hunger for a historical excursion, you can start planning a trip to The Man From Snowy River Museum, in Corryong, Victoria.

5. Red Dog  (Film, 2011)

Koko the dog plays the notorious kelpie in the Red Dog movie. Picture: David Darcy.

In the Pilbara region of Western Australia, in the town of Dampier there’s a statue of a dog: a very real and special dog. ‘Red Dog’ was regarded as a universally loved figure amongst locals. Known simply as Red Dog, the red kelpie was known for stopping cars on the road and then he would hop in and travel to wherever the car’s driver was going. This film is based on the legendary true story of a red dog uniting a local community like no other whilst roaming the Australian Outback. If you want to plan a trip to Australia’s North West, once it’s safe to do so, you can book a flight from Perth or Broome airports and road trip through the Kimberley and Pilbara region. Be sure to take a selfie with the Red Dog statue, at the entrance to the town of Dampier, before taking part in the Red Dog Trail. 

6. The Sapphires  (Film, 2012)

The Sapphires were Australia’s answer to the Supremes. The film, ‘The Sapphires’, is based on the true story of the first popular Aboriginal all-female group (from the same family) who travelled from Australia to sing soul music for US troops during the Vietnam war. An all-Aboriginal cast was found to represent the singers in the film, including Australian household names Jessica Mauboy and Deborah Mailman. Filmed in various regional locations in New South Wales including Albury, Corowa, Culcairn and Howlong, the film soundtrack is perfect for your next road trip in regional New South Wales. 

7. Finding Nemo (Film, 2003)

Home to diverse marine life of the most vivid colours, Australia’s Great Barrier Reef was the real-life location that inspired this classic family friendly film, ‘Finding Nemo’. Set within the Reef of the coast of Queensland, the film follows the story of a clown fish named Marlin who loses his son, Nemo, all the way to Sydney Harbour. No matter your age, this film with leave you wanting to plan your next trip to the world’s largest coral reef system where you can try and spot (don’t touch) all of the films other characters including Dory (Regal or Blue Tang Fish), Gill (Moorish Idol Fish), Bloat (Pufferfish), Peach (Starfish) and Crush (Sea turtle). 

8. Muriel’s Wedding (Film, 1994)

This 90’s classic comedy centres around an Australian misfit with matrimonial ambition. The film, ‘Muriel’s Wedding’, put Australian actress Toni Collette on the map. Muriel’s love for ABBA tunes, her desperation to be accepted by her in-group of ‘friends’ and her desire to escape her dreary family situation present both comedic and serious themes. You’ll see lots of picturesque shots from the Whitsunday Islands, Coolangatta, the Gold Coast, Surfer’s Paradise and Sydney.

9. The Dish (Film, 2000)

Based on a true story, this film takes an almost comical look at the differing cultural attitudes between Australians and Americans, whilst revisiting the iconic Apollo moon landing and the unsung heroes in the middle of an Australian sheep farm. Despite being set in Parkes, New South Wales (approximately four and a half hours drive west of Sydney, New South Wales), ‘The Dish’, was actually filmed in the neighbouring town of Forbes. You’ll be inspired to start planning a trip through rural New South Wales, with Parkes not only being home to the Parkes Observatory, which houses the 64-metre Parkes radio telescope (that has been operational for more than 50 years), but also Wiradjuri Amphitheatre and HARS Parkes Aviation Museum.

10. Mad Max (Film, 1979)

Set in the Broken Hill area of New South Wales, the town of Silverton was once a thriving mining centre before becoming a ghost town destined to be reclaimed by desert. Rustic, dilapidated and virtually abandoned, Silvertown was discovered by director George Miller, becoming the backdrop to his post-apocalyptic vision for the ‘Mad Max’ franchise. The town’s biggest drawcard is the Silverton Hotel, which has been featured in a variety of movies and the locals are more than open to recounting stories about the town’s brushes with fame. Also in town, the Mad Max Museum pays tribute to ‘Mad Max 2’, showcasing a huge display of props, life size characters and photographs from the film.

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About Kate Webster

Kate Webster is the founder and owner of Captured Travel Media. She is a world traveller, ocean lover and conservation warrior who is determined to make every moment count for not only herself, but the world around her. An editor and travel journalist, Kate travels the globe in search of vivid imagery and compelling stories that capture the essence of the people and places she visits. She is a passionate conservation advocate, sustainable traveller and always travels with reason and cause.