FLIGHTS, camera, action: The movie and TV locations that are the top destinations for fans to tour

Megan French
The Nightly
From action blockbusters to heart-racing horrors, to sitcoms and rom-coms, Megan French reveals the must-see real-world film sets around the globe.
From action blockbusters to heart-racing horrors, to sitcoms and rom-coms, Megan French reveals the must-see real-world film sets around the globe. Credit: Netflix

Filmmakers are critiqued - among other things - for their ability to transport us into another world.

Some of them are so good at it that we never consider the earthly locations that were once sets for our favourite movies.

Some scenic hotspots have become so well-known their entire tourist industry is based around them - like the beloved Hobbiton - while others have been neglected.

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To help bring these back into the limelight, we’ve created the ultimate list of destinations for you to visit on your next holiday.

Hawaii — Jurassic Park

The Kualoa or Ka’a’awa valley near Kaneohe on Oahu was used in Jurassic Park films
The Kualoa or Ka’a’awa valley near Kaneohe on Oahu was used in Jurassic Park films Credit: Adobe Stock/steheap - stock.adobe.com

Right from the franchise’s start in 1993 to the latest rendition released in 2022, all six of the Jurassic Park films were shot on the Hawaiian Islands of Kauai, Maui and Oahu.

Kauai is the US island state’s largest island and became the fictitious location of Isla Nublar in the series. Organised tours include trips to Kualoa Ranch, Hakipu’u and Ka’a’awa Valleys, Kipu Kai beach and Allerton Garden.

Croatia — Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones was filmed throughout several Dubrovnik locations in Croatia
Game of Thrones was filmed throughout several Dubrovnik locations in Croatia Credit: Adobe Stock/Viliam - stock.adobe.com

Croatia has no shortage of picturesque locations prime for film crews to shoot cinematic masterpieces in. Fans of American fantasy drama television series Game of Thrones can travel to the north-western part of the Balkan Peninsula to quench their medieval thirst by visiting the Dubrovnik locations of Minceta Tower, Bokar Fortress, Trsteno Arboretum, Lovrijenac Fortress, Pile Gate and St Dominika Street, and hotspots in Split such as Diocletian’s Palace, Klis Fortress and Zrnovnica.

New Zealand — Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit

Hobbiton movie set in the Waikato town of Matamata in New Zealand
Hobbiton movie set in the Waikato town of Matamata in New Zealand Credit: Adobe Stock/PRILL Mediendesign - stock.adobe.com

New Zealand’s towering mountain ranges and grand landscapes in both the North and South Island are the backdrop to the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies.

Popular set-jetting locations include; The Shire and Hobbiton movie set in the Waikato town of Matamata, the ‘Forbidden Pool’ of Tawhai Falls in Tongariro National Park, Mount Victoria in Wellington and Nelson Lakes National Park.

New York City — Sex and the City, Gossip Girl, Seinfeld

Tom's Restaurant.
There are many iconic filming spots in New York, including Tom’s Restaurant, from Seinfeld. Credit: Stephen Scourfield/The West Australian

The Big Apple is the holy trinity of cityscape entertainment film locations, it’s almost dizzying to list them all. From the apartment buildings of Friends, Gossip Girl or Sex and The City, to action movies The Avengers, the Spider-Man trilogy and The Godfather.

Not to mention cult-favourites such as Home Alone, Law & Order, When Harry Met Sally and Seinfeld. Join a walking tour or a bus tour to get the most out of the overflowing set-jetting melting pot.

United Kingdom — Downton Abbey, Pride and Prejudice, Jane Eyre

Highclere Castle, the country seat of the Earl of Carnarvon was the location for Downton Abbey.
Highclere Castle, the country seat of the Earl of Carnarvon was the location for Downton Abbey. Credit: David Goddard/Getty Images

Possibly the European equivalent to New York, the UK is brimming with countryside landscapes, regal stately homes and historical landmarks perfect for the cinema.

Legendary flicks and series’ such as Harry Potter, Doctor Who, Peaky Blinders, The Crown, Downton Abbey, Bridgerton, Wonka, Sherlock and Broadchurch were shot there.

For those travelling to London, be sure to check out set-jetting hotspots for The King’s Speech, Paddington, Notting Hill, Bodyguard and James Bond.

Thailand — The White Lotus (Season 3)

Anantara Mai Khao Villas will be featured in season three of The White Lotus
Anantara Mai Khao Villas will be featured in season three of The White Lotus Credit: Adobe Stock/kowitstockphoto - stock.adobe.com

The Hawaiian Four Seasons Resort in Maui and Sicily’s San Domenico Palace Hotel in Taormina experienced a 300 per cent increase in bookings as a result of the triumphant success of seasons one and two of The White Lotus.

The film crew are shooting season three in Thailand at the Four Seasons Koh Samui and Anantara Mai Khao Villas in Phuket and if history is anything to go by, these resorts should start preparing themselves for the set-jetting floodgates to open.

Expedia searches for Thailand have already spiked by 50 per cent.

Abu Dhabi and Jordan — Dune: Part Two

Wadi Rum desert, Jordan, is used as the backdrop for many science fiction movies including, most recently, Dune: Part Two
Wadi Rum desert, Jordan, is used as the backdrop for many science fiction movies including, most recently, Dune: Part Two Credit: Adobe Stock/Lubo Ivanko - stock.adobe.com

UNESCO World Heritage Site Wadi Rum (Jordan) and the Liwa Oasis in Abu Dhabi (UAE) were featured in Denis Villeneuve’s Dune: Part Two science fiction film released in February.

Breathtaking desert scenes picturing acting heavyweights Timothee Chalamet (playing Paul Atreides) and Zendaya (playing Chani) in the multi-planetary universe whereby Atreides unites the Fremen people of the desert planet Arrakis to fight a war against House Harkonnen.

England — Bridgerton

Osterley Park and House in Hounslow is a new location to Bridgerton in season three
Osterley Park and House in Hounslow is a new location to Bridgerton in season three Credit: Adobe Stock/Marina Marr - stock.adobe.com

It’s barely been a month since the first part of Bridgerton season three premiered and the show has already broken its own streaming record. The opening weekend racked up 165.2 million viewing hours and 45.1 million individual views. The best part? It’s only part one of the two-part season.

The English television show’s eager fan base can scope out several of the set-jetting locations open to the public.

Bath’s Royal Crescent provides the exterior views of Mayfair in the series, as well as the town’s Holburne Museum starring as Lady Danbury’s estate.

Claydon House in Buckingham will soon feature in part two of season three, set for release on June 13, along with additional new locations of Grimsthorpe Castle (Lincolnshire), Osterley Park and House (Hounslow) and Kingston Bagpuize House (Oxfordshire).

London and Edinburgh — Baby Reindeer

Baby Reindeer
Baby Reindeer featured many pubs across the UK. Credit: Netflix

Psychological thriller series Baby Reindeer swept the globe last month as millions of Netflix viewers became fascinated with stand-up comedian Donny Gadd’s stalker experience.

The near-autobiographical series featured locations across the UK including; The Hoppy in Meadowbank (Edinburgh), Army & Navy pub in Stoke Newington, F.Cooke and The Stag’s Head in Hoxton and The Regent’s Canal in Haggerston.

AUSTRALIAN HOTSPOTS

Western Australia

Scrublands (NEW)

Scrublands: Silver is filming now in Augusta.
Scrublands: Silver is filming now in Augusta. Credit: David Dare Parker/Photograph by David Dare Parker

The second season of Stan’s acclaimed drama Scrublands is now filming in WA’s South West town of Augusta. The series features Luke Arnold and Bella Heathcote and is based on Chris Hammer’s best-selling follow-up novel Silver. The season is being directed by WA-raised Hounds of Love director Ben Young.

Population 11

Population 11
Population 11 Credit: David Dare Parker/Photograph by David Dare Parker

Thanks to the Western Australian Regional Screen Fund, Stan filmed yet another drama in WA, in Derby, about three hours north of Broome. The series showcases the raw beauty of the Kimberly Region — a part of the country only locals typically get to see is now on the world map.

Jasper Jones

Jasper Jones. Levi Miller as Charlie Bucktin and Angourie Rice as Eliza Wishart in the film. Picture: David Dare Parker
Pemberton was the backdrop for the 2017 thriller. Credit: Supplied/David Dare Parker

Pemberton was the backdrop of the 2017 mystery thriller film Jasper Jones, chosen for its authentic old buildings and idyllic natural environment for the storyline set in the 1960s. Set-jetting locations include; Pemberton Mill Hall, Pemberton Community Resource Centre and Pemberton RSL Memorial Library.

South Australia

The Tourist

Jamie Dornan in The Tourist.
Jamie Dornan in The Tourist. Credit: ian routledge/TheWest

Port Augusta, Peterborough and the Flinders Ranges were recognisable filming locations in the debut season of critically acclaimed BBC thriller series, The Tourist. Hollywood star Jamie Dornan, best known for his role in Fifty Shades of Grey, is the star of the six-episode show in which his character survives a life-altering car crash in the outback and suffers severe amnesia.

Wolf Creek

Wolf Creek - John Jarratt
Wolf Creek - John Jarratt Credit: Ian Routledge/Ian Routledge

Despite being set in Western Australia, the original Australian horror film Wolf Creek (2005) was exclusively filmed throughout South Australia in locations including Adelaide, Barossa Valley and Glenelg. Same goes for the Stan series consisting of 12 episodes.

Tasmania

Deadloch

Madeleine Sami as Eddie Redcliffe and Kate Box as Dulcie Collins in Deadloch.
Deadlock was filmed in southern Tasmania. Credit: Supplied/TheWest

The murder mystery comedy series filmed in the southern Tasmanian locations of Cygnet (Huon Valley) and Kingston Beach. It follows the journey of Sen. Sgt Dulcie Collins (played by Kate Box) and detective Eddie Redcliffe (played by Madeleine Sami) as they work on an investigation when a local man is found dead on the beach.

Rosehaven

TOD TV Rosehaven season three - Luke McGregor and Celia Pacquola
Rose-haven was mostly shot in locations around Hobart, in southern Tasmania. Credit: Supplied/Supplied

Tassie-set comedy Rosehaven, starring Celia Pacquola and Luke McGregor, was shot mostly in Geeveston, (Huon Valley) as well as New Norfolk — which is home to one of Australia’s oldest pubs and Australia’s oldest Anglican church, St Matthews — Oatlands, Longley, Richmond, Seven Mile Beach, Mountain River, Brighton and Chigwell.

The Kettering Incident

Foxtel drama series The Kettering Incident was filmed entirely in Tasmania. The show producers selected the Huon and Derwent Valleys for their “haunting beauty” to suit the modern gothic genre of the entertainment production.

Bay of Fires

Marta Dusseldorp stars in and produces Bay of Fires for ABC.
The west coast of Tasmania is the backdrop for ABC’s Bay of Fires. Credit: Supplied./TheWest

Tasmania’s West Coast was the filming hub for ABC series Bay of Fires, starring Marta Dusseldorp and Toby Leonard Moore. Scenes were shot in Zeehan, a small town south-west of Burnie, Strahan and Queenstown.

The Nightingale

The Nightingale film review - Set in 1825, Clare, a young Irish convict woman, chases a British officer through the rugged Tasmanian wilderness, bent on revenge for a terrible act of violence he committed against her family. On the way she enlists the services of an Aboriginal tracker named Billy, who is also marked by trauma from his own violence-filled past.
Picture Matt Nettheim
Tasmania’s Southern Midlands provide the wild backdrop of The Nightingale. Credit: Matt Nettheim/Matt Nettheim

The Southern Midlands of Tasmania, specifically the High Street in the historic town of Oatlands, played host to the film crew of feature film The Nightingale. Scenic Derwent Valley was also pictured in the flick, which follows the journey of young Irish convict woman Clare as she chases a British officer through the Tasmanian wilderness.

New South Wales

Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga

Anya Taylor-Joy as Furiosa in Warner Bros. Pictures' action adventure "FURIOSA: A MAD MAX SAGA," a Warner Bros. Pictures release.
The team behind latest instalment of the Mad Max franchise Furiosa spent time filming in regional and rural NSW Credit: Jasin Boland/Jasin Boland

Star-studded action adventure flick Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga was filmed in several locations throughout New South Wales. Set-jetting locations of the new movie, released May 23, include Broken Hill, Hay, Kurnell, Terrey Hills, Disney Studios Sydney and Melrose Park. Renowned actors including Chris Hemsworth and Anya Taylor-Joy played key roles.

The Great Gatsby

Leonardo DiCaprio in The Great Gatsby (2013).
Leonardo DiCaprio in The Great Gatsby (2013). Credit: UNKNOWN/SUPPLIED

From St Patrick’s College in Manly (now the International College of Management) to The King’s School in Paramatta, Australian director Baz Luhrmann selected locations for the classic film wisely and on home soil. The 2013 production starred Carey Mulligan, Leonardo DiCaprio, Elizabeth Debicki, Isla Fisher and Tobey Maguire. Other locations include the former White Bay Power Station, Centennial Park, Waverley Cemetery, Richmond Polo Club, Rivendell health facility in Concord and Breenhold Gardens in the Blue Mountains.

Anyone But You

Sydney Sweeney and Glen Powell in 'Anyone But You'. BROOK RUSHTON/SONY PICTURES
It’s a game of ‘spot the Sydney landmark’ when watching Anyone But You Credit: Brook Rushton/Sony Pictures

The fairly recent rom-com Anyone But You had no shortage of legendary locations to shoot in. Director Will Gluck opted for the most iconic of them all, Circular Quay, for a memorable scene in the water with the two stars Sydney Sweeney and Glen Powell, along with the Sydney Opera House, Marks Park (Bondi), Palm Beach, Jones Bay Wharf and the Queen Victoria Building.

Northern Territory

Crocodile Dundee

Paul Hogan carrying dead crocodile in bar in a scene from the film 'Crocodile Dundee', 1986. (Photo by Paramount/Getty Images)
Crocodile Dundee, when he wasn’t in the pub, was was shot in the picturesque Kakadu National Park Credit: Archive Photos/Getty Images

The highest-grossing Australian film of all time, and arguably most iconic, was shot in the rugged landscapes of Kakadu National Park. From deadly snakes, buffalo encounters, Indigenous ceremonies and of course, crocodiles, the Northern Territory flexed its exotic muscles in the legendary 1988 movie.

The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert

A trans-Australian trek undertaken by drag queens Mitzi Del Bra and Felicia Jollygoodfellow across the Australian outback to Alice Springs. The movie begins and ends in Sydney, with scenes also shot at The Imperial Hotel in Erskineville, Broken Hill and the historic Palace Hotel.

Top End Wedding

Miranda Tapsall in Top End Wedding. Picture: John Platt Photography
Top End Wedding is a veritable smorgasborg of NT beauty: featuring Darwin, the Tiwi Islands, Kakadu, Arnhem Land, and Nitmiluk/Katherine Gorge in Katherine. Credit: John Platt

The feature film was co-written, produced, and stars Darwin native Miranda Tapsell, with locations including Darwin, the Tiwi Islands, Kakadu, Arnhem Land, and Nitmiluk/Katherine Gorge in Katherine.

Victoria

The Dressmaker

Kate Winslet in The Dressmaker
Kate Winslet in The Dressmaker Credit: The Dressmaker

The production team of 2015 Western film The Dressmaker travelled far and wide to produce the movie, which boasted a budget of $US11.9 million. From a small country town in You Yangs range, to Horsham in Central North Victoria and back to Melbourne’s Southbank to shoot in Docklands Studios. A house set was also erected at the Mount Rothwell Conservation and Research Centre, located one hour west of the Melbourne CBD.

Foe

Victoria’s Winton Wetlands served as the picturesque backdrop to 2023 film Foe, starring Irish actor heartthrob Paul Mescal and Little Women star Saoirse Ronan. Director, co-writer and producer Garth Davis told ABC he needed a “distressed environment” for the sci-fi drama, and looked towards the 8750ha site home to a rich variety of flora and fauna.

The Pod Well Travelled with Penny Thomas and Megan French.
The Pod Well Travelled with Penny Thomas and Megan French. Credit: The West

On The Pod Well Travelled, PENNY THOMAS and MEGAN FRENCH chat to TV Editor CLARE RIGDEN about the concept of set-jetting, where to go and the perks and pitfalls of the phenomenon.

+ Subscribe to The Pod Well Travelled where you get your podcasts — and share it to your family and friends.

+ Follow us on our TikTok @thepodwelltravelled and Instagram @thepod_welltravelled accounts for more content from the Travel team.

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