Stuck at home and wondering what to do next during COVID-19? Why not take in some of Australia’s favourite films, podcasts or music to pass your time. Here are the Top 10 films to watch during COVID-19 together with the top music and podcasts for you to enjoy.
Not only are these films entertaining, but they also capture Australia’s iconic vistas and landscapes which are guaranteed to have you dreaming and planning your next holiday. It’s not just about the show-stopping landscapes either, each capture the larrikin spirit that Australians are known and loved for, leaving you feeling as though you’ve just caught up with your Aussie mates.
Phillipa Harrison, Managing Director for Tourism Australia said “Storytelling is embedded in Australian culture. Thanks to our brilliant creative industry, there are many different means of soaking up our rich culture – even from the comfort of your couch. Whether you decide to pick up a book, get settled in for a film or tune in to a podcast, you’ll be sure to be transported somewhere worth travelling to, when the time is right”.
1. The Adventures of Priscilla Queen of the Desert (Film, 1994)
A film as colourful as the misconceptions surrounding Australians keeping kangaroos as pets, ‘The Adventures of Priscilla Queen of the Desert’ follows the story of two drag-queens and a transgendered woman as they road trip from Sydney’s historical Imperial Hotel to Australia’s Red Centre to perform a drag show. With didgeridoo solos and ABBA singalongs, this movie will not only have you dancing in the living room, but will also leave you wanting to plan a bucket-list trip to the Simpson Desert and Kings Canyon in Australia’s Northern Territory. Highlighting lesser-known regional towns such as Alice Springs, Coober Pedy, and Broken Hill, travellers wanting to retrace Priscilla’s steps can stop in at Lasseters Casino in Alice Springs, drive along the red Ernst Giles Road and climb to the top of Kings Canyon in Watarrka National Park.
2. Crocodile Dundee (Film, 1986)
Mick Dundee, played by Aussie legend Paul Hogan, is synonymous with Australia. Filmed in the Northern Territory’s World Heritage-listed Kakadu National Park, ‘Crocodile Dundee’ introduced the country’s “no worries” attitude to the world. Released in 1986 it was the highest grossing film ever released in Australia (A$47.7m) and the biggest grossing foreign film ever released in America (US$174.6m). To feel like you’re in your very own scene from this classic Australian film, travellers can visit Ubirr and Gunlom Falls in Kakadu National Park once it’s safe to travel again.
3. The Castle (Film, 1997)
Centred on a working-class Australian family fighting to keep their beloved Melbourne home from being demolished, this movie is all about “the vibe”. From the Australiana wardrobe (Michael Caton’s iconic ugg boots are on display at The Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences), thick Aussie accents, and the mundane (yet timely and relatable) day-to-day activities of the family, ‘The Castle’ has continuously been commended as a homegrown masterpiece. You can watch the original version to try and decipher all the Aussie colloquialisms, or there is a more recent version that’s dubbed over in more common American lingo (not, fair dinkum!).
4. The Man from Snowy River (Film, 1982)
‘The Man from Snowy River’ is not just about sweeping plains and rugged mountain scenery – it also brings famous Australian literature from Australian bush poet, Banjo Paterson, to the big screen. Based on the poem of the same name, the film was a box office success. Tapping into Australia’s national pride, it was also recreated into a popular musical theatre production, ‘The Man from Snowy River: Arena Spectacula’, which toured Australian capital cities twice during 2002. As the story unfolds and you watch the sunrise and sunset across the beautiful terrain of the Victoria’s Snowy Mountains, you’ll too be longing for your very own horseback experiences in Australia. If watching the film gives you a hunger for a historical excursion, you can start planning a trip to The Man From Snowy River Museum, in Corryong, Victoria.
5. Red Dog (Film, 2011)
In the Pilbara region of Western Australia, in the town of Dampier there’s a statue of a dog: a very real and special dog. ‘Red Dog’ was regarded as a universally loved figure amongst locals. Known simply as Red Dog, the red kelpie was known for stopping cars on the road and then he would hop in and travel to wherever the car’s driver was going. This film is based on the legendary true story of a red dog uniting a local community like no other whilst roaming the Australian Outback. If you want to plan a trip to Australia’s North West, once it’s safe to do so, you can book a flight from Perth or Broome airports and road trip through the Kimberley and Pilbara region. Be sure to take a selfie with the Red Dog statue, at the entrance to the town of Dampier, before taking part in the Red Dog Trail.
6. The Sapphires (Film, 2012)
The Sapphires were Australia’s answer to the Supremes. The film, ‘The Sapphires’, is based on the true story of the first popular Aboriginal all-female group (from the same family) who travelled from Australia to sing soul music for US troops during the Vietnam war. An all-Aboriginal cast was found to represent the singers in the film, including Australian household names Jessica Mauboy and Deborah Mailman. Filmed in various regional locations in New South Wales including Albury, Corowa, Culcairn and Howlong, the film soundtrack is perfect for your next road trip in regional New South Wales.
7. Finding Nemo (Film, 2003)
Home to diverse marine life of the most vivid colours, Australia’s Great Barrier Reef was the real-life location that inspired this classic family friendly film, ‘Finding Nemo’. Set within the Reef of the coast of Queensland, the film follows the story of a clown fish named Marlin who loses his son, Nemo, all the way to Sydney Harbour. No matter your age, this film with leave you wanting to plan your next trip to the world’s largest coral reef system where you can try and spot (don’t touch) all of the films other characters including Dory (Regal or Blue Tang Fish), Gill (Moorish Idol Fish), Bloat (Pufferfish), Peach (Starfish) and Crush (Sea turtle).
8. Muriel’s Wedding (Film, 1994)
This 90’s classic comedy centres around an Australian misfit with matrimonial ambition. The film, ‘Muriel’s Wedding’, put Australian actress Toni Collette on the map. Muriel’s love for ABBA tunes, her desperation to be accepted by her in-group of ‘friends’ and her desire to escape her dreary family situation present both comedic and serious themes. You’ll see lots of picturesque shots from the Whitsunday Islands, Coolangatta, the Gold Coast, Surfer’s Paradise and Sydney.
9. The Dish (Film, 2000)
Based on a true story, this film takes an almost comical look at the differing cultural attitudes between Australians and Americans, whilst revisiting the iconic Apollo moon landing and the unsung heroes in the middle of an Australian sheep farm. Despite being set in Parkes, New South Wales (approximately four and a half hours drive west of Sydney, New South Wales), ‘The Dish’, was actually filmed in the neighbouring town of Forbes. You’ll be inspired to start planning a trip through rural New South Wales, with Parkes not only being home to the Parkes Observatory, which houses the 64-metre Parkes radio telescope (that has been operational for more than 50 years), but also Wiradjuri Amphitheatre and HARS Parkes Aviation Museum.
10. Mad Max (Film, 1979)
Set in the Broken Hill area of New South Wales, the town of Silverton was once a thriving mining centre before becoming a ghost town destined to be reclaimed by desert. Rustic, dilapidated and virtually abandoned, Silvertown was discovered by director George Miller, becoming the backdrop to his post-apocalyptic vision for the ‘Mad Max’ franchise. The town’s biggest drawcard is the Silverton Hotel, which has been featured in a variety of movies and the locals are more than open to recounting stories about the town’s brushes with fame. Also in town, the Mad Max Museum pays tribute to ‘Mad Max 2’, showcasing a huge display of props, life size characters and photographs from the film.
Let Aussie music transport you from your living room
1. Triple J Hottest 100, Like A Version and Unearthed
Each year, Australian radio station Triple J hosts Australia’s most anticipated annual poll – the Triple J Hottest 100, which determines the ‘hottest’ tunes of the previous year. Online you can listen to each year’s top 100 and indulge in nostalgia from the last three decades. Or, tune into the recently announced ‘Hottest 100 of the Decade’ that features Aussie icons Tame Impala, RÜFÜS DU SOL, Gotye and many more. While you’re in Triple J heaven, treat your ears to “Like A Version” playlists featuring iconic Aussie bands such as Gang of Youths performing renditions of their favourite songs. Check out the DMA’s covering Cher’s “Believe”, or Tash Sultana’s phenomenal loop cover of MGMT’s “Electric Feel” – then watch the rest on Spotify and Apple Music and YouTube.
Triple J Unearthed is also a hive for incredible Indigenous Australian music, having uncovered famous Aborginal artists such as Baker Boy from Arnhem Land, Northern Territory. Check out their list of the five new Indigenous artists you need to hear, including acoustic folk musician Emily Wurramara who comes from Groote Eyelandt in the Northern Territory.
2. Sounds Australia
Sounds Australia supports Australian artists on the international stage, sharing their tunes with the world. In partnership with Guardian Australia, the “Australian music for isolated times” playlist was created to soundtrack your physical distancing – and, most importantly, help artists get paid. Each week, 15 new songs are added to the playlist making it easy for you to discover new artists and songs. Also worth subscribing to is their “Sounds Australia Selects”, which is updated every Friday and available on Apple Music, Soundcloud, Spotify and YouTube.
3. Missed out on tickets to the Fire Fight Australia Concert?
The Fire Fight Australia Concert saw 75,000 people come together to raise much needed funds for bushfire relief earlier this year. International and local music icons from Michael Buble and Ronan Keating to John Farnham and Olivia Newton John — united on stage for an amazing day of performances. You can basically pretend you’re right there in the crowd chanting “We Will Rock You” while from the comfort of your couch! You can also purchase the album online with all proceeds from the sale of the album donated to Sony Foundation Australia.
4. Aussie’s Princess of Pop
Pop-lovers rejoice: Kylie Minogue is currently working on a new original album. While we wait for the magic to be released, tune into the “This Is: Kylie Minogue” playlist on Spotify to relish in all her hits from the 80s through to the 2000s. Even better, you can now listen to her recent hit “Dancing” for 1-hour straight on repeat, cleverly created on YouTube by an avid fan.
5. Love a throw-back?
For a solid playlist of hits from Australian bands, check out Australian Classics on Spotify — starting off strong with Daryl Braithwaite’s “The Horses”, the playlist then moves into the best of Jimmy Barnes, Powderfinger, Crowded House and of course, John Farnham. Legendary Australian DJ Hot Dub Time Machine has also released his biggest podcast yet, an 80-minute journey from 1990 to 2015 called ‘Rave’. The entire show and individual tracklist can be streamed online.
6. Create your own living room dance party
Australian DJ Hayden James has revealed he will be streaming a live DJ set each Saturday from 12pm AEDT from his backyard instead – a virtual house party, from his actual house! After having shows cancelled, Nai Palm and Swooping Duck of Hiatus Kaiyot, announced a Patreon page where they will host a series of live-streaming sessions. For $5 a month, fans will get access to “music made by us that you won’t hear anywhere else”, 1-on-1 chats, a breakdown of songs, sleepover parties, jams, backstage passes and live streamed concerts. Friday night plans sorted!
7. Transport yourself into nature
Natural sounds have been found to lower stress levels, increase productivity and help you sleep. Need an escape from the indoor craziness? Check out Australian Nature Sounds’ playlists on Spotify where you can doze off to “Sunrise At Douglas Hot Springs”, or concentrate to “Wind Chimes and the Ocean”.
8. For lovers of classical music
The Melbourne Symphony Orchestra is hosting live streams of their scheduled performances so you can enjoy the works of Beethoven, Bach and Mendelsson live from the comfort of your own living room. Sydney Symphony Orchestra has a huge catalogue of live concert videos to explore. West Australian Symphony Orchestra has some fantastic webcast concerts for the entire family to enjoy, from classical to jazz and pop as well as Maximus Musicus Visits the Orchestra.
9. Keep an eye out for upcoming live streams
The Sydney Opera House has launched an online platform – From Our House To Yours, which will see full-length performances, talks, long-form articles, podcasts and behind-the-scenes content brought to your screens. New weekly schedules will be announced on Tuesdays and will include performances by Aussie icon Missy Higgins as well as The Sydney Symphony Orchestra.
10. Reminisce on “So Fresh” albums
Anyone who grew up in the 90s / 00s in Australia would know the exhilarating feeling of getting their hands on a “So Fresh” CD, which consisted of the Top 40 hit songs of the season. If you don’t have the original CDs, don’t worry because you can listen to each edition on Spotify. Enjoy some of Delta Goodrem, Jessica Mauboy and The Veronicas’ biggest hits and of course, Shannon Noll’s unforgettable hit song from 2001, “What About Me”.
Tune into these 10 podcasts to satisfy your wanderlust and inspire your next trip
Podcasts not only bring listeners entertainment, but also a wealth of knowledge to take on their next journey. We’ve outlined some of Australia’s best to transport listeners from their dining room to the Australian desert and provide inspiration for a future getaway.
1. Off Track, by Ann Jones
Off Track doesn’t sound distinctly Australian solely due to the Australian accents: the podcast focuses on the distinctive sounds of the Australian Outback, featuring native bird calls, crickets and the rustle of gum trees. Transport yourself into the Australian wilderness by listening to the Earworms from planet earth XI episode, where you can hear the sounds of Australia as recorded by listeners across the country.
2. Talking Australia, by Australian Geographic
Talking Australia shares the stories of Australia’s most inspiring explorers, conservationists and adventurers. Listen as they take you on a journey around the magnificent country and discuss their extremely important preservation efforts. Each week the podcast features intimate conversations with extraordinary Australians. Favourites include Australian icon Costa Georgiadis on building connections with the earth and the adventure of paddling the Murray River!
3. The Pass, by Sam Kennedy, Magdalena Roze, and Jeanine Bribosia
One of Australia’s favourite food podcasts, The Pass is an insider’s guide to the best food, restaurants and eating experiences, locally and around the world, chosen by the experts themselves. Foodies can hear from chef and restaurateur Kylie Kwong as she shares her spiritual approach towards life and cooking, as well as one of Australia’s most renowned chefs Matt Moran shares his favourite local in Sydney’s Eastern Beaches in his episode. While you’re listening, if you are in the area of any of the restaurants featured on the podcast make sure you check them out online to see if they are offering takeaway options – an order with these loved restaurants will help to ensure they keep afloat.
4. All the Best, by FBi Radio
All The Best started in 2010, and is a show where “regular” Australians take centre stage and practice Australia’s pastime: storytelling. Episodes cover everything from how the Australian Wallabies (Australia’s national rugby union team) used theatre workshops to improve their game, to what it’s like living on Goat Island amongst the crocodile-infested Adelaide River in the Northern Territory!
5. AWAYE!, by Daniel Browning
AWAYE! presents the diverse and vibrant Aboriginal arts and culture from across Australia, and the best from Indigenous radio broadcasters around the world. Tune in with the whole family to learn about modern Indigenous Australian writing, art and media — brimming with imaginative vitality and political earnestness.
6. Travelling Across Australia by Train, by Phoebe Smith
Australia’s Red Centre hosts some of the most charismatic wildernesses in the world. The Ghan is one of Australia’s most historic railways and unquestionably the most comfortable way to see this magical part of the country. Created for the sleep and meditation app Calm, Phoebe recreates the experience of cosying up on The Ghan and taking in the breathtaking scenery of the Australian desert for listeners (without them ever having to leave their beds). Pair your listening with a cup of tea and thank us later.
7. An Australian Adventure, by Phoebe Smith
Another addition to ‘extreme sleeper’ Phoebe Smith’s ‘Sleep Stories’ is the non-fiction tale An Australian Adventure. The podcast lets narrator Bindi Irwin from Australia Zoo take listeners on an enchanting adventure, from rainforest to reef, exploring the wildlife of Australia. This might be parents’ answer to wide-awake children way past their bedtime!
8. Australian Hiker, by Tim and Gill Savage
With a focus on Australian trails, this podcast shares practical instructional guides and honest hiking experiences. Listeners will be inspired to test out the tips to keep engaged with the outdoors and start planning their next adventure. Some favourites include The Overland Track: Expectations vs Reality, and Kangaroo Island Wilderness trail; Interviews from the Trail.
9. Flight of Fancy, by Ben Groundwater
Hosted by homegrown travel journalist Ben Groundwater, Flight of Fancy consists of 30-minute episodes on everything from destinations to travel insurance. Each week Ben interviews travel professionals to talk about all things travel and share their thirst for seeing the world. Favourites include; Australia’s amazing, undiscovered outback, The things that shock first-time visitors to Australia, and Australia – is it the perfect travel destination?.
10. Lunchtime Conversation Series, by The Australian Museum
The Australian Museum Lunchtime Conversation Series features a selection of distinguished Australians sharing insights into the inspiration behind their ground-breaking contributions, which have helped define the nation across science, politics, sport and the arts.
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