Lifestyle

The hills are alive with the sound of tourist buses

By Shepparton News

In her weekly column, Sandy Lloyd is on location.

I once posed for a photo sitting in the Jamaican bobsled from the movie, Cool Runnings, at the Calgary Winter Olympics stadium.

Why?

Because I am a sucker for a bit of film or television tourism.

I don’t travel to countries deliberately to visit the sets of movies or TV shows, but I have been known to include them in my itinerary if I can. Or sometimes it happens by happy accident.

Hence the Cool Runnings bobsled. Travelling in Canada in 1994, just a year after the movie was released, we visited the city of Calgary. And one of the big tourist destinations in Calgary at that time was the 1988 Olympics venue.

And sitting there was the famous bobsled. There was no way I wasn’t climbing into that. I probably also quoted the movie line: “Feel the rhythm! Feel the rhyme! Get on up, it’s bobsled time!” (I have no shame.)

Movie and TV tourism has boomed in recent years. We have The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies, as well as Game of Thrones, to thank for that.

New Zealand would probably plunge into a new GFC (Gollum Financial Crisis) if LOTR tourism suddenly dried up. And GoT tourists have descended on Northern Ireland, Croatia, Iceland and Spain in their droves.

There are entire websites and holiday tours devoted to the locations for these entertainment behemoths and their legions of obsessed fans.

But movie and TV tourism didn’t start with Middle Earth and Westeros.

Sound of Music fans have been flocking to Salzburg in Austria for decades (yep, I’ve sung and danced through the Mirabell Gardens and around the Pegasus Fountain, as carefree as any von Trapp child).

Closer to home, you can still enjoy a tour of Neighbours’ ‘Ramsay St’ in Melbourne, although the bus may not be as full of crazed British fans as it was in the show’s heyday in the 1980s when Charlene and Scott reigned supreme.

And of course there is Barwon Heads near Geelong, the sleepy little seaside village from my childhood summers that became Pearl Bay in the original three seasons of SeaChange (with a bit of help from St Leonards nearby).

The new series of SeaChange has hit our small screens – but it is filmed 1700km north of the chilly southern Victorian coastline, at warm and sunny Brunswick Heads near Byron Bay.

I’ve read that the NSW Government lobbied the show’s creators to make the move north, hoping to cash in on the sort of tourist attention Barwon Heads enjoyed from the original series.

But for me, part of the charm of SeaChange was its setting, and the way the physical surroundings were like another character. I’m sorry, but a northern NSW beach is just not Pearl Bay.

So where else have I enjoyed some TV and film tourism?

On the same three-month adventure across North America that took me to Calgary:

But my most deliberate act of movie tourism came four years earlier on a trip to the United Kingdom.

An obsession with an utterly delightful little film called Local Hero (made in 1983 and with a famous soundtrack by Mark Knopfler) meant before leaving Australia, we paused the end of the video (remember them?) to find out where it was filmed.

That took us off the beaten tourist track to northern Scotland and the tiny, remote fishing village of Pennan – and one of my most memorable holiday experiences.

Proof that what may seem like a bit of silly film fandom, can actually be an amazing adventure.

I AM LISTENING TO...

Abbey Road by the Beatles. On Spotify these days, but I’m proud to say I own it on vinyl. It’s one of my favourite Beatles albums (just behind The White Album and Sgt Pepper’s) and it was great to have an excuse to dust it off again. What was the excuse? Seeing hundreds of people gathering at the world’s most famous zebra crossing to mark the 50th anniversary of the day the Beatles were photographed on it, creating one of the best-known album covers in music history. Sadly, I’ve never strode over the crossing like the fab four did in 1969, or the countless fans ever since.

I AM NOT EATING...

Hot cross buns in August. I was shocked – but not completely surprised – to hear Coles was now selling its traditional hot cross buns year-round. Not content to have them on the shelves on Boxing Day, this previously Easter-only treat will now be wafting cinnamon and nutmeg through supermarkets every day. Coles says it’s just responding to customer demand. But religious arguments aside, surely the thrill of hot cross buns is that they are only available for a short time each year, making the enjoyment that much sweeter?

I AM SMELLING...

The jonquils blooming in my front garden. I can smell them the moment I open the front door, which means I start sneezing the moment I open the front door. I love jonquils, but they don’t love me back. So why do I have them in my garden? Regular Word Girl readers will know I am not a gardener, so it wasn’t me who planted them. It was either my mum, who despairs of my lack of gardening interest and plants things for me, or – more embarrassing – they were there when I moved in 25 years ago. That’s the thing about bulbs – you forget they’re there until they pop up each year.

I AM WATCHING...

Dogs Behaving (Very) Badly. No, it’s not a viral YouTube video. It’s a TV show where the ‘Dogfather’ (aka master dog trainer Graeme Hall) tries to fix the ‘untrainable’ pet dogs of Britain. From chronic escape artists to Labradors that ‘pull like a train’ on walks to food thieves, the Dogfather is on the job. It’s like watching Dr Harry Cooper visit Aussie homes to sort out problem pets, but on steroids. What I like is it’s not usually the dog’s fault – it’s the owners who are letting down their pooches. Once the humans are trained properly, the dogs are just fine.