OPINION | Film-makers love Macarthur

HOLLYWOOD LINKS: Hugh Jackman in Picton (clockwise from top), The Sapphires performing at Brownlow Hill, an old "Smithy" poster, and Robert Penfold and Lisa Wilkinson on the red carpet at the Academy Awards.
HOLLYWOOD LINKS: Hugh Jackman in Picton (clockwise from top), The Sapphires performing at Brownlow Hill, an old "Smithy" poster, and Robert Penfold and Lisa Wilkinson on the red carpet at the Academy Awards.

There he was on the big screen – Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) – walking through the snow-dusted streets of a small township in Canada’s Yukon mountains.

Except he wasn’t.

Locals know it is clearly the Picton Hotel intersection of Argyle Street (with a giant mountain digitally added in the background).

That was a fun day in the shire, in 2013, when a film crew took over Picton, including the old hardware shop and old shire hall, with “snow” trucked in, and Jackman signing autographs.

It wasn’t the only movie shot locally, of course.

So, with the Academy Awards about to hit us – and with several Aussies in contention – it’s a reminder of Macarthur’s potential.

When pollies or planners talk about our local potential as a science hub, or a tourism hub, or a jobs hub, some of us feel a bit cynical. Really?


As a film-making hub, some of us are convinced we’ve barely tapped the true potential of Macarthur – an area of so many different backgrounds, all so close to the largest city in Australia.

I’ve had a very small taste of that thanks to my passion of portrait photography. Our area is so rich in backgrounds – whether it’s a rocker posing with a guitar in an urban alleyway, an artist posing near historic architecture, a country singer with rows of rural hills, or an elegant model standing up to her waist in a river – I reckon we’ve got it all here.

We’ve barely tapped our true potential as a film location.

Remember when Simmo’s Beach became the location for the thriller, Killing Ground (2016) – about a horror camping trip.

The producers drove all over NSW looking for an appropriate outback bush river spot – until they found it at Macquarie Fields an hour’s drive from Sydney. Perfect.

Camden, in particular, has become a favourite – from Camden Showground turning up in Angelina Jolie’s Unbroken (2013), to Camelot, with its turrets and gables, being a star of the TV drama, A Place to Call Home.

One of my favourite Aussie films, The Sapphires (2012) – about four young Aboriginal sisters who tour army bases in 1968 – had most of its Vietnam War scenes shot at Brownlow Hill. (An English-style farm estate near Camden doubling as a south-east Asian warzone has got to show our local versatility.) And let’s not forget Hacksaw Ridge (2016) was shot in Bringelly, 

Films have been shot locally for a century – from Smithy (1946), about aviator Charles Kingsford-Smith and shot at what is now Club Menangle, to Rats of Tobruk (1944), shot on rural hills where suburbia now stands in Narellan Vale.

Even as a young bloke in the 1970s and 1980s, I recall my local pride in knowing a Flake chocolate commercial was shot at Eschol Park House, and a famous Minties ad was shot at the old Couridjah Railway Station.

camdenhistorynotes.wordpress.com has an excellent article about locally-shot films and says Camden Council has a film contact officer to encourage greater use of the area for films. Bravo.

We’ve even had local ambassadors at the Oscars.

A few years ago, Nine News’ Robert Penfold (a proud local boy who began his career on the Advertiser) emailed me this photo, above, of him and Lisa Wilkinson on the Oscars red carpet. “Not bad for two kids from Campbelltown High,” he laughed.

But back to my original point – we could shoot anything here.

 In fact, our ability to create backdrops for disaster, horror and comedy scenes it might be the perfect backdrop for a future movie – The Barnaby Joyce Story.

This story OPINION | Film-makers love Macarthur first appeared on Camden-Narellan Advertiser.