I don’t watch a lot of television, but even I can’t avoid the regular advertisements for the Australian soap opera, Home & Away.
Little did I know as I strolled around the far northern-Sydney suburb of Palm Beach that I was actually walking into Summer Bay and onto the set of Home & Away.
The things you see on an early morning walk…
Home & Away launched onto Australian television screens in 1988 and it has to be one of our longest running soap operas. That doesn’t make it good, just resilient or perhaps, downright stubborn.
I thought I was just going for a simple early morning walk until I started seeing large film-related trucks and catering vans, and men lugging camera equipment, tripods and telescopic lights. This is not your normal early morning beach foot traffic. It was a hive of activity as they set up for the day, laying out chairs and tables for the cast and crew to dine as their schedule allowed and assistants busily signing on extras (I am guessing) for the inevitable crowd shots.
I was waiting for a tap on the shoulder. Surely I, or the even more gorgeous Cavoodle dog I was taking for a walk, would be ideal TV-talent? But, No. Today was not our 30 seconds of fame and we were left to enjoy our walk undisturbed.
Peering around I tried to recognise the stars of the show, but it was so early in the morning I only spotted Lynne McGranger (Yes, I had to Google that) playing with her phone in her car. She was obviously not that enthusiastic to start her day or perhaps she was just completing her daily life admin.
Putting my hand up here, I admit to have never watched the show. I have attempted to, but it lost me after about five minutes. Who needs to watch the whole episode anyway? You can understand the entire plot simply by watching the endless TV ads. It is interesting to see how the show’s culture has changed over the years from a relatively innocent storyline, to now a consistent stream of murder and mayhem, love triangles, adultery, kidnappings and questionable paternity suits.
It would be a real challenge for script writers to keep the plot fresh and interesting when every character has married everyone else, had a child, or an affair with each other. They have resorted to introducing bad boy Kiwi characters (as if Australia doesn’t have enough bad boys of our own), blowing up weddings, burning down houses, crashing cars and murder. All in sleepy Summer Bay and in prime time viewing.
And Summer Bay, aka Palm Beach, is really gorgeous despite all its drama. Filming focuses on the pristine stretch of beach and sand around the Summer Bay Surf Club or over on the Pittwater side, at various wharfs and piers. I can see why this soap opera has become so popular in places like the United Kingdom where the weather is predictably wet and the beaches are surprisingly rocky and/or full of hard, round pebbles. In Summer Bay, every day is a blue-sky day, the beach is clean and white, and the sea-green waves endlessly break and roll.
But what would I know? Home & Away is the most successful programme in the history of the Logies (Australia’s equivalent to the Emmy’s and Bafta’s) and has earned around 38 Logie Awards since premiering in 1988, including Most Popular Australian Drama. Varying cast members have earned several awards including Gold Logie Award for Most Popular Personality on Australian Television, Silver Logie for Most Popular Actor, and Most Popular Actress.
For the diehard fans out there, you can even book a guided tour of Summer Bay. The bus tour takes you from the Sydney CBD, up through the Northern Beaches and then around all the Summer Bay highlights including the Summer Bay Surf Club, Pier Diner and Alf’s Bait Shop. Whatever floats your boat…or surfboard.
I guess the upside is that filming has started again now that Covid19 has loosened its grip on our country. Over the past 10 months the whole film and television industry ground to a halt so it is a good thing that actors, and TV/film workers generally, can get back to work.
My apologies to the fans out there if this post seems overly critical of your favourite TV fodder. I can understand its addictive qualities similar to every other soap opera, but in my book life is too short to waste on something that is consistently sad and continually filled with heartache and drama. I have better things to do with my time and if they can’t spot star material (Me!) when they see it, then that is their loss.
Palm Beach, on the other hand, is a slice of heaven and definitely worth some of your time.
Have you ever had a mini-brush with fame?
What: Home & Away is one of the most popular and long-standing soap operas in Australia along with the equally popular Melbourne-based Neighbours.
Where: Summer Bay is actually Palm Beach, an exclusive and expensive northern Sydney suburb about 40km from the Sydney CBD.
When: To watch the show, tune in on Monday-Thursdays at 7pm on Channel 7 for the hourly episodes. Or binge it all here.
Why: Watch it for a little melodrama, escapism or for an opportunity to switch off your brain for a while.
How: Drive to Palm Beach and park your car near the obvious film locations in the various designated carparks (metered). To get there by bus, catch the L190X from Wynyard Station or bus 199 from Manly. You would need to check the bus schedules to coincide with the ‘best’ of the filming.
Who: The list of stars is long and includes Ray Meagher as Alf Stewart, Georgie Parker as Roo Stewart and Emily Symonds as Marilyn Chambers, plus a whole host of other less enduring characters.
Related Posts: If you have a bit of penchant for visiting places that have been featured in movies, then make sure you include a visit to Silverton on your itinerary. It is a little out of the way, but so worth a visit. Read about it here.
Related Blogs: Still can’t get enough of Home & Away? Then revel in the minutiae at Fandom.
Read About It: And what book could I possibly recommend here? None other than, Days of Our Lives: A Complete History of the Long-running Soap Opera. Home & Away has a little while to go to match the sheer staying-power of Days of Our Lives. Grab a copy from Book Depository.
Wishing you all a safe and happy Festive season. The blog will be having a little holiday now for a month and I look forward to chatting with you in February 2021. Fingers crossed we will all be able to travel happily and healthily again soon. Take care, Mel
#homeandaway #travelinspo #soapoperas #mindlesstv #summerbay #sunandsand #palmbeach #melodrama