There’s unrivalled beauty in the natural landscapes, architecture, forests and rural streetscapes of the Central Highlands.

That draw thousands of visitors to our picturesque part of the world year-round. For all those reasons, local and international movie and television location scouts keep coming back to our region searching for the perfect location to create movie magic.

And the picturesque town of Clunes is clearly a firm favourite.

Ask any Clunes local and they all have a story about when Mad Max, starring Mel Gibson, was shot in the main street, the railway station and a private residence 42 years ago. The remarkable Australian rural setting enhanced the sense of dystopian world including a vengeful cop and a wayward bikie gang. In reality, that’s a far cry from the picturesque little township that was Mel’s home for the 10-day shoot.

It was a case of who’s who among homegrown actors with the filming of Ned Kelly in 2003. Naomi Watts, Geoffrey Rush, Rachel Griffiths, the late Heath Ledger and English actor Orlando Bloom moved across the shires – from Clunes to Hepburn Springs, Bacchus Marsh to Broadford – capturing the life of the country’s most famous outlaw.

Then there was True History of the Kelly Gang, released last year, and Picnic at Hanging Rock, the original movie and the most recent television series (it goes without saying the original movie and mini-series were of course shot on location at Hanging Rock). Once again, Clunes was the chosen location for a number of scenes for both dramas.

Three years ago the little town came alive once again with the filming of Bloom, an Australian mini-series featuring fabulous local actors including the legendary Jackie Weaver and Bryan Brown.

Childhood favourite Charlotte’s Web, released in 2006, which is set in Maine, USA, was actually filmed on the Morrocdong Sheep farm, near the old mining town of Greendale with its rolling hills and old world beauty that stole the show.

Gordon, nestled among the undulating foothills of the Paddock Creek valley was the perfect setting for the remake of Bonanza but the excitement of a film crew in town wasn’t new for the residents. The original television series The Man from Snowy River was partly filmed in the forested location in the early 80’s and again in subsequent remakes.

Nicolas Cage is practically considered a local given the time he has spent on numerous films across the region. In 2007, he was in Bacchus Marsh to film the famous ‘deal with the devil’ scene in Ghost Rider and was back again two years later filming Knowing. This time he was joined by Rose Byrne with filming set in various locations across the Macedon Ranges.

Kate Winslet, Liam Hemsworth and Hugo Weaving all graced our region during the filming of 2015 movie, The Dressmaker. While filming took place across the Central Highlands and Western District, it was the Muckleford Railway Station that stole the show.

The 2015 television series Glitch features six people who return from the dead in the fictional town of Yoorana. But in reality, it was filmed in and around the historic gold rush town of Castlemaine. The former police station and the iconic Midland Hotel were used for a number of scenes along with Riddells Creek Cemetery and the heritage listed Monegeetta property.

Liam Neeson often remarks how he loves Australia and late last year the action icon travelled to Macedon to shoot scenes from Blacklight where a local swimming hole metamorphosed into an American trailer park.

And then there was the Netflix docuseries Down to Earth starring Zac Efron who was spotted in Mt Macedon in March with his younger brother and co-host Dylan and a film crew. The town was abuzz after the local sightings. The series features locations across the globe highlighting sustainable living, cultures and customs.

NBC’s La Brea, an action-packed mini-series set in Los Angeles and 10,000 BC, filmed in the state earlier this year. Spoiler alert…filming took place in the Macedon Ranges, among other Victorian locations.

It’s safe to say we love being showcased, sharing our remarkable landscape, natural beauty and historic architecture with the rest of the world.

The injection into the local economy and the opportunity to spot a star – or even be an extra – is quite fabulous as well.

About the author

Narelle Groenhout
Narelle Groenhout

Narelle is a proud tree-changer who only a year or so ago, with her family, swapped suburban Melbourne life and a corporate communications role to fulfil her dream to raise her children in the country and live in a connected and compassionate community. Narelle feels like she has found her community in Daylesford and the surrounding region. Moving from a quarter-acre block on a busy road to an old farmhouse on a two and half acre piece of paradise, bordered on one side by a spring fed creek and the other by majestic eucalypt forest, Narelle has found the life she was looking for, spending her days gardening, entertaining friends and family and writing stories about the remarkable people she has met in her new community, along with trawling the local op-shops, markets, second-hand and tip shops for new treasures.