Time Out Melbourne

The most compelling character in any Melbourne TV series over the decades is the capricious city itself

Read how writers, producers and actors immortalised Melbourne’s landmarks, reputation and foibles – then explore the locations yourself.


Homicide, 1964–1975

Locations: Citywide

Of the many drama series shot and set in Melbourne, Homicide was the first to feature extensive location filming, and holding a televisual mirror up to everyday Australian life was integral to the program’s appeal. This gritty cop drama made such good use of Melbourne’s streetscapes that the city was almost a character in its own right.

The Secret Life of Us, 2001-2005

Location: St Kilda

It launched the acting careers of Deborah Mailman, Abi Tucker and Joel Edgerton, and made Melbourne as vital a character as any other.

Neighbours, 1985-present day

Location: Nunawading

For nearly three decades, Neighbours has depicted a benign suburban utopia. Long-term cast members Alan Fletcher and Ryan Moloney analyse the soap’s portrayal of our most cultural city.

Underbelly: The Black Prince, 2008

Locations: Carlton, CBD,
Essendon, North Melbourne

At its peak, the original Underbelly pulled in a million viewers in Victoria alone, and spawned four subsequent series and three telemovies. Vince Colosimo, who portrayed the Black Prince of Lygon Street, found it to be a subject very close to home.

Prisoner Cell Block H, 1979-1986

Locations: Spotswood, Box Hill

Over 692 episodes, Prisoner became cult viewing the world over. Louise Silversen – who played the ferocious Lou Kelly – dissects its ultra-violent charm.


The Sullivans, 1976-1983

The vicinity of Canterbury’s Maling Road is where the stoic Sullivan family called home in long-running series set in the World War II era. Though their humble abode has since been torn down, at 35 Matlock Street you can find Willy’s Store, which has since renamed itself Sullivan House and now operates as a museum of sorts. Across town is the Retreat Hotel at 226 Nicholson Street in Abbotsford, where Dave and Uncle Harry bent their elbows, and you can still order a pint surrounded by décor straight out of the 1930s.

The Slap, 2011

Novelist Christos Tsiolkas is no stranger to Melbourne’s northern suburbs and when The Slap was adapted into a TV series, it was the author himself who persuaded locals to open up their homes as the backdrop to the barbeque-stopping drama. Northcote’s Beaconsfield Parade and Fairfield’s Rathmines Street are where you’ll find the homes of Tsiolkas’s ill-fated characters. The St George Greek Orthodox Church lies further afield at 66 St David St in Thornbury and it was the actual priest of this church who appeared as an extra in the funeral scenes just before Manolis starts to lose it.

Satisfaction, 2007-2010

You may need to line-up for hours, air kiss the nice dor lady and pay a cover charge, but it could be worth it to see the filming location for the first season of Showcase series Satisfaction, starring Alison Whyte and Madeleine West. Not since Pretty Women have normal girls wanted to become prostitutes so badly, and here’s why. Southbank’s swankiest nightclub Eve Bar, at 334-342 City Road, is where the high-class brothel action happens in the now-axed TV series, before it moved to a specially built set for seasons two and three.

Rush, 2008-present day

Filmed in Footscray, for its tough, urban feel, cop drama Rush utilises a loose and informal way of shooting. Says writer Christopher Lee, “It was always going to be a Melbourne show. Partly because Melbourne actually had a real-life Rush squad [a Tactical Response Unit]. They were once pretty rare; now they’re everywhere. Having decided on Melbourne we did our best to make the city an integral part of the culture of the show. We put our colours up the flagpole early by shooting the first sequence of the first episode right in the recognisable heart of the city.”

Tangle, 2009-present day

"We wanted to use the river as a motif, as a Melbourne lifeline,” explains creator John Edwards of the leafy locale of this tense Showcase drama about familial relationships, starring Justine Clarke and Kat Stewart. “We explored the Kew and Hawthorn side of the river for middle-class life.” Keep your eyes peeled for cameos from Studley Park Boathouse, Fed Square, The Windsor Hotel (excellent for dangerous liaisons apparently), Parliament House and Abbotsford Convent. Yes, Melbourne’s beauty spots and glitzy epicentres have been well milked.

Round the Twist, 1989-2001

While the Twist family lived in Split Point Lighthouse in Aireys Inlet down the Great Ocean Road, Cameron Nugent, who played Tiger Geeson, recalls, “We shot the bedroom scenes and lighthouse interior at a studio in Rouse Street, Port Melbourne. A cooler location to visit would be Williamstown Primary School. It’s very recognisable, being made of bluestone and being on a relatively main street. All school exterior stuff and many of the events, such as the frog race, were shot there and in the surrounding streets.”

The Henderson Kids, 1985-1987

Series two of the children’s TV series saw our protagonists settled in Westport. No effort, says producer Alan Hardy, was taken to particularly disguise the fact that this was filmed in the south-west seaside suburb of Williamstown. In fact, the opening credits ran over footage of the naval dockyards along Nelson Place (and the strains of a saxophone). Much use was made of Williamstown High School – named Westport High School here – and let’s not forget the gripping BMX bike chase by the Brown Street Boys past the Terminus Hotel on Hanmer Street.

Summer Heights High, 2007

The principal of Firbank Girls Grammar in Brighton’s Outer Crescent, where the scenes of Ja’mie King’s elite girls school were filmed, denounced creator Chris Lilley for delivering “every awful, stereotypical prejudice” about private and public schools there is. The principal of Brighton Secondary College in Marriage Road, East Brighton – where bad boy Jonah attends Summer Heights High – shrugged off the comment saying she thought her students all found it pretty damn funny. Lilley himself would ride trams past elite private schools to eavesdrop on conversations while developing his Ja’mie prototype.

Cop Shop, 1977-1984

The old Melbourne Custody Centre on Russell Street was the façade where scenes of Cop Shop’s fictional Riverside Station were filmed. At 1 Southampton Crescet in Abbotsford there’s also an old fabric factory where a scene with guest star Mel Gibson was filmed and which was, at the time, the Crawford Productions office. Spooky trivia: the cast of Cops had to attend the real-life funeral of cast member Bill Stalker who died in a tragic motorcycle accident only a week or so before they had to film scenes of fictional character Claire Benjamin’s funeral at St Peter’s Church at 585 Toorak Road, with many struggling not to break down in tears on set.

Kath & Kim, 2002-2007

You too can crack open the c-ardonnay and have your own Fountain Lakes “wine time” with a visit to the home of Kath Daynight at 4 Lagoon Place, out in the south-east suburb Patterson Lakes. It’s owned by the ABC and rented out between filming. When Kim uttered the line “Brett and I have decided we want solid monogamy… I want to go to Knobs & Knockers," she was referring to a real store you can find at 732-742 Hampton Street in Brighton. And you can’t go past Westfield Southland in Cheltenham or Fountain Gate Shopping Centre for a bit of retail therapy in the vein of Kel’s Choice Cuts or Pru and Trude’s “grayshsh” homeware store. Watch out for the Kath & Kim film – or “filum” – out later this year.

Updated on 7 Mar 2012.

By Jenny Valentish, Chris Keating, Martyn Pedler   |  

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