The system of caverns and sinkholes of Kangaroo Island were stumbled upon (literally) in 1881. Today they remain one of the biggest draws of the large island off South Australia’s coastline. In addition to the coves and caves, Kangaroo Island hosts a bizarre combination of roaming wildlife generally seen behind bars. Amongst the kangaroos (naturally), live koalas, seals, echidnas, platypi, goannas, penguins, wallabies and bees. Yes, bees. Those highly allergic might be warned to keep away or prepare as the island serves as a sanctuary for the tiny insects.
At Flinders Chase National Park one can find the Remarkable Rocks and Admirals Arch (nature-made rock formations), while amidst the bushland at the center of the island, you can visit the Sahara without traveling to another continent. Australia’s “Little Sahara” is called such because of the sand dunes that periodically rise from the otherwise green surroundings.
Not many movies have had the chance to film in this exotic section of Southern Australia, but that’s probably not for any reason aside from the fact that they probably didn’t know about it. Exposing the hidden gem is this month’s December Boys, starring a very un-Harry Potter-like Daniel Radcliffe. As part of a group of young orphaned men–all born in December–that have lived their lives together at an Australian convent, Radcliffe travels to the seaside for holiday. There, the group meets a young couple looking to adopt and the boys find themselves competing for attention. Realizing their chances of adoption shrink with each year they grow older, the boys resort to cutthroat competition and loosen their bond in the process.
Director Ron Hardy had previously visited the island and had it in the back of his mind when he saw the script called for the young men to escape to a secreted retreat. “The script called for a cove where the film is set that was beautiful, but also desolate,” he explains. “Coves aren’t that easy to find but the one at Kangaroo Island was perfect. It sits directly west so the sun sets between the headlands and gives it a magical feeling.”
An easy trip from the mainland city of Adelaide, Kangaroo Island is accessible for daily shoots or long-term productions. For the crew of December Boys, this “meant we could work out of Adelaide and film there, but then not have too far to travel to Kangaroo Island.” So stumble on down before all the good stories are taken.
For more information on filming on Kangaroo Island, contact the South Australian Film Commission by visiting www.safilm.com.au.
Admiral’s Arch photo courtesy of Naia Johns.