Long before I got into tracking down movie locations on a regular basis I very much enjoyed visiting some of the principle shooting scenes for a couple of Australian soaps which were hugely popular back in Britain in the late 80’s and early 90’s….and still continue to this day.
On my arrival in Australia on a years working holiday in 2001 I first visited the street in Melbourne where ‘Neighbours‘ is filmed which I returned to last year for my fourth visit. Returning to Sydney at the very end of the Australian leg of my journey I finally went to the beach used as the fictional seaside town of Summer Bay in ‘Home & Away‘.
Palm Beach is a northern beachside suburb about 40 kilometres north of Sydney and has been used as the exterior shots in ‘Home & Away‘ since it first aired in 1988. Together with friends Kevin and Robbie, the three of us left our base in Manly for a day trip to what was (and still is) an amazing beach. You don’t have to have even seen the soap opera to recognise and appreciate the beauty of the place but the ‘Home & Away‘ connection certainly played a huge role in us going there.
The first place to see was not the beach but the Summer Bay Surf Lifesaving Club more commonly referred to as the Surf Club which is not only a centre for sea rescues but also a place for the young people of the Bay to hang out in and usually just help themselves to a drink which we rarely see them pay for! Furthermore, it is the place where easy pool shots are done at the start of a scene or where town meetings are held. Presumably, they are all done in the Channel 7 studios but the exterior does have a sign with the words ‘Club Official: A Stewart’ written on it referring to the legendary character Alf Stewart who is the only remaining original cast member.
Getting to walk in the footsteps of some ‘Home & Away‘ greats was fantastic but even more awesome was meeting actress Rebekah Elmaloglou a few days before. Now, this “accidental” meeting was borderline stalking as my friend Lisa had informed me many months before that she was working in a clothing shop just off Oxford Street in the Surry Hills area of Sydney. Richard Richard and I ventured on up the hill fully expecting it to be a wild goose chase but when I approached the shop I suddenly saw her and to my surprise I was star-struck and went all shy like a young boy meeting a girl he fancies. Oh thats right I actually was meeting a girl I had a teenage crush on over ten years earlier!!
No such problems for Richard Richard who just marched in and started talking nonsense to her. I think he even enquired about a job in the place first and then asked her if she was who he thought she was. I then finally plucked up the courage to come in to the store and blurted out that we had been tipped off to her presence here thus blowing Richard Richard’s laid-back story out of the water completely!
We got our photos taken with her and she was very nice and we chatted complete inane rubbish with her before walking cooly away. As soon as we got round the corner we let it all out and gave each other a high-five or something like that! Since our “chance encounter”, Rebekah has returned for a few guest appearances as her character Sophie Simpson but I guess that’s very unlikely to happen anytime soon since she joined rival soap ‘Neighbours‘ back in February of this year as regular character Terese Willis.
How To Get To Palm Beach: Just hop on the L90 bus from Wynyard Station and it takes just over an hour from there. ‘Home & Away‘ filming is done in the mornings on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays but of course there’s no guarantee that it’ll take place when you’re in town!