Going on vacation on location

Why book a holiday from a brochure when you can journey through scenes from the silver screen? As Baz Luhrmann's Australia lures visitors Down Under, Tim Walker follows the stars

Across Western Australia, tour operators are pouring coals on barbecues, chilling lagers in cold stores and hanging corks from their wide-brimmed hats in preparation for an influx of visitors, following the international roll-out of writer-director Baz Luhrmann's new outback epic, Australia, which is due to be released in the UK on Boxing Day.

The movie, which was shot in the Kimberley region of Western Australia, comes complete with a Luhrmann-made suite of television advertisements to promote the country's tourism industry. "Australia offers vast spaces full of natural beauty, and Baz has used that to its fullest. It's very moving," says Rodney Harrex, Tourism Australia's UK general manager. "And the name of this movie is Australia, so we don't even have to explain what it's about."

The blokes and sheilas at Tourism Australia are hoping the film, which stars two of the nation's biggest names, Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman, can do the same for them as the Lord of the Rings trilogy did for New Zealand. "I came out of Lord of the Rings with tears in my eyes, because it really showcased New Zealand," says Gregg Anderson, Harrex's opposite number over at Tourism New Zealand. "There was a huge increase of visitor numbers following its release, and research showed that 93 per cent of our visitors knew that Lord of the Rings was shot in New Zealand."

A guidebook to New Zealand's Lord of the Rings locations swiftly became the country's biggest bestseller, and nowadays visitors can see many of its most spectacular sights through the prism of a Lord of the Rings tour, but a sightseeing expedition to Middle Earth is far from the world's only fantasy film location holiday on offer.

The Tunisian desert and the conical rock fromations of Turkey's Cappadocia region still trade off their appearances in the original Star Wars trilogy, when they provided homes for a menagerie of space creatures. Considerably more far-fetched than either Star Wars or Lord of the Rings was The Da Vinci Code. Fans of the preposterous book and/or movie can visit Paris and/or London on a conducted tour of its locations. Luckily for first-time visitors to the French capital, the tour does, at least, take in the Louvre. The ancient Nabatean city of Petra in Jordan gained a hell of a boost in visitor numbers after doubling as the final resting place of the Holy Grail in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade in 1989 (and is a stone's throw from the crucial spots on any Lawrence of Arabia tour). Local hotels still screen scratchy VHS copies of the Spielberg movie for their guests.

The same goes for the hostelries of Udaipur in Rajasthan, India, which play the James Bond movie Octopussy on an ever-repeating loop. The town's stunning Lake Palace Hotel featured at its climax. No doubt the European Organisation for Astronomical Research in the Southern Hemisphere's hotel in Chile's Atacama Desert will have a rush of bookings following its appearance in the latest Bond movie, Quantum of Solace. And for the bargain price of £190, visitors to London can take a taxi tour of former Bond locations.

Last month, London mayor Boris Johnson announced a loosening of the legislation on moviemaking in the capital, in the hope of encouraging the city's film industry and, in turn, its international image. Londoners frequently complain of their city's saccharine, picture-postcard portrayal in the films of Richard Curtis or, more recently, Woody Allen, yet statistics suggest that one in five visitors to London came after seeing its most famous locations on film. Little surprise, then, that are plenty of London walking tours taking in locations from Four Weddings and a Funeral, Harry Potter, The Bourne Ultimatum, 28 Days Later, Bridget Jones's Diary, Mission: Impossible and more. Committed Harry Potter fans can hire private guides from a number of different operators, who'll drive them out of London to more magical locations in Oxford and Gloucester.

Woody Allen's earlier work has no doubt attracted many a film buff to Manhattan. Nowadays, New York visitors might prefer to take the Sex and the City tour, or cross the bridge to New Jersey for a visit to the small-screen spots featured in The Sopranos. No, a picture needn't be pretty for fans to make the pilgrimage. Even the mean streets of Baltimore now boast a tour of ghetto locations from the famously gritty television drama The Wire. And next year, if the credit crunch eases, expect the slums of Mumbai to enjoy a tourism boom courtesy of Danny Boyle's colourful Indian drama, Slumdog Millionaire.

The early word on Australia is decidedly mixed, though the scenery, say critics, is predictably impressive. However hackneyed its script, Tourism Australia must be hoping that audience members planning holidays for post-crunch 2010 will remember one thing: the camera never lies.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Guru Careers: Front of House Receptionist / Receptionist

    £21K: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Front of House Receptionist to provide th...

    Recruitment Genius: Bid / Tender Writing Executive

    £24000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: With offices in Manchester, Lon...

    Guru Careers: Marketing Executives / Marketing Communications Consultants

    Competitive (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a number of Marketi...

    Recruitment Genius: Marketing Executive

    £20000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This well established business ...

    Day In a Page

    Revealed: Why Mohammed Emwazi chose the 'safe option' of fighting for Isis, rather than following his friends to al-Shabaab in Somalia

    Why Mohammed Emwazi chose Isis

    His friends were betrayed and killed by al-Shabaab
    'The solution can never be to impassively watch on while desperate people drown'
An open letter to David Cameron: Building fortress Europe has had deadly results

    Open letter to David Cameron

    Building the walls of fortress Europe has had deadly results
    Tory candidates' tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they seem - you don't say!

    You don't say!

    Tory candidates' election tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they appear
    Mubi: Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash

    So what is Mubi?

    Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash all the time
    The impossible job: how to follow Kevin Spacey?

    The hardest job in theatre?

    How to follow Kevin Spacey
    Armenian genocide: To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie

    Armenian genocide and the 'good Turks'

    To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie
    Lou Reed: The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths

    'Lou needed care, but what he got was ECT'

    The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond
    Migrant boat disaster: This human tragedy has been brewing for four years and EU states can't say they were not warned

    This human tragedy has been brewing for years

    EU states can't say they were not warned
    Women's sportswear: From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help

    Women's sportswear

    From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help
    Hillary Clinton's outfits will be as important as her policies in her presidential bid

    Clinton's clothes

    Like it or not, her outfits will be as important as her policies
    NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

    Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

    A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
    Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

    Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

    The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
    How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

    How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

    Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
    From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

    The wars that come back to haunt us

    David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
    Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

    Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

    A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders