/News 30.05.24

Blue Mountains and Beyond: A Journey Through Film Locations

New South Wales is one of the leading states in Australia for screen production, with world class facilities, highly skilled crews, and breathtaking locations for any story imaginable, along with competitive NSW Government incentives and funding available.

Recently, NSW capital city Sydney was showcased on the big screen in box office hits Anyone But You, directed by Will Gluck, and Ryan Gosling led The Fall Guy, but across the state there are locations available for any story imaginable. NSW is home to pristine beaches, ancient rainforests, mountain ranges, desertscapes, and charming country towns.

The Blue Mountains, located just outside Sydney, and the Central West region of NSW, have long been a treasure trove for filmmakers, offering diverse and breathtaking backdrops that can bring stories to life. Filmmakers, including Baz Luhrmann, have been drawn to the area for its unique landscapes to help bring their stories to life on screen.

Below is a snapshot of some of the most iconic filming locations in the region and the productions that captured their beauty.

Blue Mountains

Dryridge Estate. Credit Chris Reynolds

The Blue Mountains, located just under a two-hour drive west of Sydney, is home to dramatic cliffs, lush forests, and serene valleys, as well as many historic towns and villages.

Filmmaker Baz Luhrmann used the grand gardens and estates found in Mount Wilson to transport audiences to the decadent world of the The Great Gatsby. Location Manager Phillip Roope described finding the home used in the film like coming up with a gem.

Mount Wilson. Supplied by Lisa Scope

“Because it’s [Mount Wilson] 1500 metres up and an old volcano, it’s got a completely different type of flora and volcanic soil. So, that was perfect for Leonardo DiCaprio as Gatsby driving his big car through Long Island in the 1920s. It’s fantastic to find something new like that.”

Mount Wilson. Supplied by Lisa Scope

Meanwhile, mini-series Wakefield, which was set at a psychiatric facility in the Blue Mountains, had the unsettling environment mirror the internal struggles of the characters. Lambs Of God captured the ethereal qualities of the ranges to add an otherworldly setting for the award-winning mini-series.

Omar (Richard Miller) and Nik (Rudi Dharmalingam) in Wakefield. Photo by Lisa Tomasetti
Still from Lambs of God. Supplied by Lingo Pictures
Still from Lambs of God. Supplied by Lingo Pictures

Beyond the Blue Mountains

Over the Blue Mountain ranges, is the Central West region of NSW. Home to beautiful countryside and several historical sites and towns, the region offers many cinematic settings.

Atmospheric landscapes of the Central West have been used many times on screens, with the town of Rylestone the perfect setting for 2020 horror film Children of the Corn. The town’s quiet, almost ghostly environment amplified the film’s tension and fear, making it a memorable setting for the chilling tale.

The towns of Milthorpe and Orange were the backdrops for drama series While The Men Are Away, which saw the rich historical locations in the town transport viewers to World War II era Australia, while long-running series Doctor Doctor called Mudgee and the surrounding areas home for five seasons, with the warm community spirit of the town providing a perfect backdrop for the show’s heartfelt storylines.

While The Men Are Away. Credit Lisa Tomasetti
While The Men Are Away. Credit Lisa Tomasetti
While The Men Are Away. Credit Lisa Tomasetti

The British-Australian co-production Ten Pound Poms shot around both the Blue Mountains and Carcoar, a historic town in the Central West, for season one of the series. Carcoar provided a rich visual and cultural backdrop for the series, bringing to life the post-war immigration experience with authenticity and emotion.

Netflix series Pieces of Her, starring Toni Collette, filmed in the towns of Oberon and Hartley, with Oberon also providing the backdrop for the 2015 psychological thriller Backtrack, starring Adrien Brody and Sam Neill.

Hartley Gas Station. Credit: Chris Reynolds
Oberon Forest. Credit: Chris Reynolds
Road in Oberon. Credit: Chris Reynolds
Still from Pieces of Her. Supplied by Netflix

Australian series The Messenger also filmed in and around the town of Lithgow. The production showcased many of the valleys found throughout the Central Tablelands of NSW.

The town of Lithgow. Credit: Ryan Cearns

An untapped location in the Central West region is Lake Lyell, a scenic dam located just outside of Lithgow. The lake mirrors the change of seasons throughout the year, providing an excitingly adaptable location, depending on what time of year you visit.

Lake Lyell. Supplied by Lisa Scope
Lake Lyell. Supplied by Lisa Scope

The Blue Mountains and Central West are waiting for you

From the cinematic and diverse landscapes found in the Blue Mountains to the charming towns and lush vineyards of the Central West, these locations have played a vital role in bringing numerous productions to life and are ready to welcome new ones at any time of year. Each place, with its unique beauty and character, contributed to the storytelling magic, making the region a beloved choice for filmmakers and audiences alike.

Mermaids Cave. Credit: Chris Reynolds

Foliage changes throughout the year that can represent a variety of international landscapes, and big sky country that captures the vastness of the region, provide productions the opportunity to transport audiences to regional areas in any part of the world. Many towns across the Blue Mountains and Central West teem with historical charm.  They capture the essence of regional Australian life and can stand in for rural US settlements or villages on the European continent.  

A film friendly state, it is the NSW Government’s policy to streamline processes and provide the highest possible level of co-operation with filmmakers to encourage screen production and maintain NSW’s position as a premier destination for screen production in Australia. This is particularly on show in the Blue Mountain and Central West regions.

For additional information on filming in NSW, the team at Screen NSW can assist you with information on locations, technical and creative talent, studio space, postproduction, and visual effects facilities and on all aspects of filming.

The Screen NSW Film Scout App has recently been revised and is a must-have for location scouts and filmmakers looking for exceptional locations across NSW. The app allows you to search for locations across the state and find out about the local filming protocol where you plan to shoot, along with location contact information for local councils, government authorities and regional offices across NSW. Screen NSW also offers bespoke location packages through its Reel Scout location library. Your next filming location is in the palm of your hand.