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Summer Bay Stalking & humiliation – visiting Home & Away filming location in Sydney

Visiting Palm Beach, Sydney or Summer Bay home of Home and Away

If I had to associate one thing with Australia it would be Home and Away.

Long before I ever set foot in Australia, Home and Away (the Australian soap opera that’s aired on Irish tv since 1988) shaped my idea of what life was like down under. As far as I could see, it was all caravan parks, eternal sunshine, gorgeous people, amazing school uniforms, and a world where freak accidents, natural disasters and fires happened on a regular basis.

Even after living in Adelaide (and making the shocking discovery that winter does exist there), Home and Away will always be Australia to me.

(For anyone who’s never seen Home and Away, you will probably be familiar with some of its former stars, like Chris Hemsworth, Heath Ledger, Isla Fisher, Naomi Watts, Tammin Sursok – the list goes on!)

 

So when A and I decided to visit Australia for the first time, we had one mission : Visit the Sydney beach where Home and Away is filmed for some serious stalking!

We were so excited at the thought of seeing the familiar beach and diner, and the possibility that we could be lucky enough to spot a cast member.

What we never expected was to find ourselves in the middle of a scene, meeting multiple cast members and being treated like one of the gang by the crew. 

We also never expected that a moment of toe-curling embarrassment would be the reason we had such an amazing time. 

Let me tell you the tale of our humiliating — and eventually successful — Summer Bay Stalking mission.

For those of you who are here looking for actual information on how to successfully stalk, sorry, sorry, visit Summer Bay, fear not, tips are at the bottom of this post!



Summer Bay Stalkers

We set off from Sydney airport in a bright yellow little Getz, the cheapest rental car on offer. After getting lost in Sydney’s city centre for a while, we were on the road to Palm Beach.

We arrived as dusk crept in and soon found ourselves outside the Summer Bay surf club, the home of oh, so much teenage drama in Home and Away. The surf club is a real place, but has the signage of the fictional Summer Bay lifesaving club outside.

We excitedly explored the beach, the jetty, the bait shop and the infamous diner before it got dark.After grabbing some food, we settled into our bed for the night, the Getz.

Visiting summer bay home and away location Palm Beach Sydney

 

Coming straight from backpacking South East Asia, a night in one of Sydney’s expensive hostels was too much for our dwindling budgets. It was cold in the car, so we covered ourselves in random layers of clothing and eventually fell asleep.

A very rude awakening

Anyone who has slept in a car will know how blindingly bright it gets once the sun is up. But it wasn’t the sun that woke us early that morning, it was some sort of commotion outside.

We opened our sleepy eyes to find our car was completely surrounded by people, some of them carrying cameras and equipment. They were all staring at us and laughing. And some were pointing.

The worst, and most surreal part, was that two Home and Away characters, John Palmer and Xavier Austin — or the real people who play them — were standing right in front of the windshield, peering in at us and belly laughing.

We were frozen in the harsh, unforgiving and blinding Australian morning sun, our half-asleep minds trying to process the fact that two of the people we had come to catch a look of were the ones watching us, for who knows how long.

There was nowhere to hide, we were like zoo animals, completely exposed.

visting summer bay home and away

Our excitement from the night before gave way to utter panic

 

A, who was in the driver’s seat, appeared to be gripped by some sort of paralysis. I can’t say I blame her. After what seemed like an eternity, but was probably just a minute, she managed to start the engine and we got the hell out of there, random layers of clothes falling from our bodies in the panic.

As soon as we were a safe distance away, we pulled over and allowed the humiliation to wash over us. We pulled down the sun shades and surveyed just how bad we looked. Our faces were an attractive combination of puffy, sweaty and bright red, with streaks of mascara smeared under our eyes. We had Balinese sarongs wrapped around our necks and heads, and thick jumpers and hippie trousers draped over us. It wasn’t a good look.

Eventually, after some coffee and more hysterical laughing, our red cheeks faded. We knew we had to pull ourselves together. We had come this far, driven for hours, slept in the car, and suffered utter mortification. We couldn’t quit now.

We spruced ourselves up, as much as one can spruce in a car, took a deep breath and inconspicuously crept closer to the action, terrified of being spotted by the army of people who had been laughing at us.

Visiting summer bay home and away location Palm Beach Sydney watching filming

From our vantage point behind some bush, we watched Xavier film a scene. Not wanting to get any closer, we wandered around to get a photo of the iconic lighthouse. We spotted Xavier’s car from the show and posed in front of it.

When we were distracted, two of the crew approached us, and had a good laugh at our earlier humiliation. We were red-raced again, but the guys were extremely nice.

In a bizarre twist of fate, our rude awakening led to us being well and truly taken in by the Home and Away crew. Perhaps they felt bad for us, or maybe they were grateful for the early morning laugh we had afforded them. Either way, we had two new buddies and our surreal day continued.

Visiting summer bay home and away location Palm Beach Sydney prop fun

First up, they told us to jump right in the car so we could get some better photos. Then, we were introduced to the catering staff who invited us to hang out in the food truck.

Then, the guys called Zac Drayson over, an actor who played Will for years on the show and who was back for a guest role. We were so happy to get a picture with one of the cast so early in the day.

Our pals brought us closer to the filming, filling us in on all the goings on and the daily schedule of the cast and crew.

We met a couple more actors before the highlight of the day, meeting Ray Meagher, who has played Alf Stewart since the very first episode in 1988.

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As if that wasn’t enough excitement, we were then told to help ourselves to the buffet spread set out for the cast and crew. Although we were embarrassed that the weird backpacker girls who slept in a car were now eating the food meant for the actors, we were also absolutely delighted to be living it up like we were part of the Summer Bay family!

 

Summer Bay stalking visiting Palm Beach Home and Away

We spent the rest of the day watching filming and getting as much gossip out of the crew as we could.

We left Summer Bay, oh sorry, I mean Palm Beach, high as a kite, our earlier humiliation only adding to the adventure of the day that was in it.

 

How to successfully stalk Summer Bay and its helpless residents

Visiting summer bay home and away location Palm Beach Sydney meeting cast

From Sydney, you can get the L90 bus to Palm Beach, which is in northern Sydney. You can get it from Wynyard Station on Carrington Street. It takes about 90 minutes and costs about $4.60 one way.

The best days to spot the cast filming are Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday. I believe there are a couple of weeks in June or July where they don’t film at all. No matter what day you go, you can still see the beach, surf club, diner and jetty, though.

If you have a car, there are lots of filming locations scattered around, like characters’ homes and the high school.

(Stalker tip: Back to the Bay is an excellent website which conveniently lists lots of Home and Away film locations so you can hunt them out yourself!)

Visiting summer bay home and away location Palm Beach Sydney watching filming

There’s also an official Home and Away tour and the original Home and Away tour that you can do. I did a Neighbours tour in Melbourne and it was good.

However, they cost about $80-$105. If you’re on a budget, you might be better off following my lead (not entirely!) and make your own way to Palm Beach via bus, or car. If you go on the days when they usually film, you have a good chance of seeing cast members.

From reading other people’s experience of the tours, what you would miss out on by doing it yourself are some spoilers from the tour guide and getting to see a couple of other filming locations, like different characters’ houses. (But, if you have a car, you can find the locations of some of the houses and make your own way there!)

Looking back on it now, I’m really glad we didn’t spend that much of our backpacking budget on the tour. Plus, if we had, we would never have had this story to tell!

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10 Comments

  • Reply
    Elaine
    September 16, 2017 at 8:39 pm

    That is a funny story. I have never seen Home and Away, but will now have to check Netflix. Some day I hope to visit Australia for a long tour.

  • Reply
    Trevor
    September 16, 2017 at 9:47 pm

    Moral of the story: if you have an embarrassing moment, own it and then they’ll be laughing with you instead of at you!

  • Reply
    Jennifer
    September 17, 2017 at 2:48 am

    That’s the kind of thing that only happens on tv! Pretty fabulous memory after the embarrassment wore of. I will have to check out the show now.
    Jennifer recently posted…The Best of Tofino Without Breaking the BankMy Profile

  • Reply
    Corinne
    September 19, 2017 at 7:22 am

    Now, this is a once in a lifetime experience. You’ll never forget it, and it sounds like so much fun. I would love to watch them filming as well!

  • Reply
    Laura @ Sometime Traveller
    September 19, 2017 at 9:50 pm

    Haha, I love this! I’m a Neighbours girl myself, so of course had to do the tour while I was in Melbourne (incredibly cheesy but I loved every second)!

  • Reply
    Miranda
    September 20, 2017 at 9:14 pm

    I don’t blame you for being embarassed; I would’ve been mortified!! I can’t imagine anyone staring in at me in a car, though I’ve never slept in one. Nobody does that in the US, unless they’re not “all there.” That’s so creepy!

  • Reply
    melody pittman
    September 20, 2017 at 9:53 pm

    I’m so glad you went on to explain that it was a TV show because I was scratching my head from the title. How fun! We should totally hang together. My daughter and I are major stalkers. 😉 My last conquest was Jennifer Lawrence (an American across) that I stumbled upon in Budapest. 😉

  • Reply
    Nathan Aguilera
    September 21, 2017 at 5:31 pm

    I’ve never seen Home & Away but the cast sounds amazing! I will have to check it out. And it might have been embarrassing but it makes for a good story!

  • Reply
    Carmen Edelson
    September 22, 2017 at 10:17 am

    What a fun trip! I’ll have to watch Home & Away. Thanks for sharing 🙂
    Carmen Edelson recently posted…Introducing The William Vale, Brooklyn’s All-Balcony Boutique HotelMy Profile

  • Reply
    Monochrome memories - Black & white travel photography collection
    September 26, 2017 at 10:37 am

    […] READ MORE: SUMMER BAY STALKING – VISITING PALM BEACH WHERE HOME AND AWAY IS FILMED […]

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