Visiting the church where Scott and Charlene got married in ‘Neighbours‘ the day before had really got me in the mood for doing some more iconic Aussie filming locations albeit ones from a rival soap. When I first booked a short trip to Sydney, the idea of returning to Palm Beach never even entered my head as it really is quite far north of Sydney and I was on very limited time.
However, once I discovered my friend Ruth and her family were living up that way I thought I’d combine the two as I kind of wanted to get some proper digital quality photos rather than the scanned pictures which appeared in my ‘TF Flashback – Summer Bay & Meeting A Soapstar! (2002)‘ post. After 17 years away I guess I was also due a return visit!
My plane from Melbourne landed in Sydney at 9:30 am and after a short train journey to Wynard Station I took the L90 bus (from Stand C on Carrington Street) for about 90 minutes to Governor Phillip Park. Just a short walk from there is the North Sydney beach which provides the regular backdrop for the fictional Summer Bay in the long running Australian soap ‘Home & Away‘.
As I made my way over to the main area it become apparent that filming was actually taking place. Disappointingly I only caught the tail-end of filming before they took a lunch break but it was maybe a blessing in disguise. It actually enabled far more freedom for me to capture the pictures that I wanted to get of the area surrounding the Summer Bay Surf Club such as the path leading down to the beach which is often used during filming.
The Surf Club is not only a centre for sea rescues but also a place for the young people of the Bay to hang out at and usually just help themselves to a drink which we rarely see them pay for! Furthermore, it is the place where easy shots are done on the pool table at the start of a scene. The exterior has a sign with the words ‘Club Official: A Stewart’ written on it referring to the legendary character Alf Stewart (Ray Meagher) who is the only remaining original cast member.
There were also a couple of Summer Bay Surf Rescue vehicles on hand too which may have only been because filming was taking place.
Of course you can appreciate the beauty of the place even if you’ve never seen ‘Home & Away‘ but it certainly adds to it’s appeal for many.
Wanting to be back for the resumption of filming I cut across the golf course to the Pittwater side of the Palm Beach peninsula where some more locales can be found. From it’s inception I watched ‘Home & Away‘ religiously up until about 1995 (and very sparingly on and off after that for a few years) so have to be honest that I’m not too familiar with the present incarnation of the diner which has been used since 2008. I remember the original Bayside Diner (located half an hour away in Collaroy) so I guess it’s far more convenient for the production crew to film most exterior shots all in the same area.
In a way this is two locations for the price of one as Alf’s Bait Shop can be found beneath the balcony of the same building. In reality the restaurant is called The Boathouse Palm Beach and Alf’s shop is known as Barrenjoey Boating Services. The former sells breakfast and seafood lunches whilst the latter rents out boats and also offers the chance for people to see Sydney by seaplane.
‘Home & Away’ souvenirs are on sale in the store with the majority of them featuring Alf’s no nonsense Australianisms such as Strewth, You flamin’ galah and Stone the flamin’ crows!
The Pier Diner and Alf’s Bait Shop are on Station Beach which is known as Flat Beach in the show.
The Barrenjoey Headland and lighthouse is equally iconic often appearing in the background of scenes.
As filming resumed I returned to the other side of the Peninsula to catch a bit of it before I had to take the bus back down south. It was pretty cool to see it being filmed but unless it featured Alf Stewart I was never really going to know who anyone was.
Luckily, the internet is there to help me out and subsequent research tells me that the girl in the red top is Sarah Roberts who plays Willow Harris.
Many, many scenes have of course been filmed at Palm Beach since the series began in 1988 but maybe the most memorable for me was the emotional farewell scene between Blake Dean (Les Hill) and Meg Bowman (Cathy Godbold) with the latter dying in her boyfriend’s arms having just witnessed sunrise. This particular scene was brought back to my attention last year when I heard that Godbold had herself died of cancer at the age of 43.
Click here to read ‘TF Flashback – Summer Bay & Meeting A Soapstar! (2002)’
Click here to read ‘Australia 2019 Pt IX: The “Tokyo” Temple In The Wolverine Movie’