So add this to your Aussie travel list: A retrospective tour of “Sydneywood’s” big-budget makeovers:
1. Colonial State Bank: ‘The Matrix’
For fans on a “Matrix” pilgrimage, start at Martin Place. Keanu sees his woman in red at its fountain.
But it’s half-way up the adjacent Colonial Building where all the action happens. Agent Smith holds Morpheus captive before the daring, diving rescue by Neo – involving a Gatling Gun – to grab Morpheus in mid-air while leaning out of a helicopter.
But be warned, suited bankers and businessman give the place a less adventurous vibe.
Colonial Centre, 52 Martin Place, Sydney, with entrances from Phillip and Elizabeth streets
2. Martin Place: ‘Superman Returns’
In “Superman Returns,” Kitty Kowalski nearly hits pedestrians as she drives a beaten-up Mercury down Martin Place to distract Superman – who stops the car and sets it down in front of a fountain.
This is so Lex Luther (Kevin Spacey) can break into the museum (The Australian Museum, on the other side of Hyde Park) to steal the dreaded, safely locked away kryptonite.
He would use this in his master plan to create a new continent in the Atlantic, making rising flood waters kill billions.
Martin Place fountain, Pitt Street, accessible from Martin Place Railway Station
3. Bare Island: ‘Mission Impossible 2’
Unlike “Superman Returns” and “The Matrix” set in make-believe places, John Woo’s “Mission Impossible 2” was both shot and set in Sydney, with the Harbour Bridge, Opera House and Mrs Macquarie’s chair all featuring.
However, it’s Botany Bay’s Bare Island that takes center stage: its rugged coastline and ex-military base is Baddy’s heavily fortified secret lair.
It’s also where the final and famous motorcycle duel plays out – where Tom and Baddy tackle each other in mid-air as their bikes collide – classic Woo action.
Bare Island, near Botland Bay, accessible from a footbridge in La Perouse
4. Fox Studios: ‘Star Wars: Attack of the Clones’ and ‘Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith’
How could we not mention Fox? The final two chapters of “Star Wars: Attack of the Clones” and “Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith” were concluded at Sydney’s Fox Studios.
The Fox site is always a trek for film buffs – it was also transformed into Jazz Age New York for “The Great Gatsby” (2013) and fin de siecle Paris for “Moulin Rouge!” (2001).
Fox Studios, 38 Driver Avenue, Moore Park, Sydney; tel. +61 (0)2 9383 4200
5. Strickland House: ‘Australia’
Filming of Baz Luhrmann’s epic “Australia” was split between Queensland, the Northern Territory and Sydney. Set on the foreshores of Sydney Harbour, Strickland House in Vaucluse featured as Darwin’s colonial Government House.
Exterior shots of the ball sequence see Drover (Hugh Jackman) reluctantly don the white suit for Lady Sarah Ashley (Nicole Kidman) who mixes with the gentry.
True to stereotype, a kangaroo even hops cornily up the green lawn. You can approach the house via the Sydney Harbour National Park.
Strickland House, 52 Vaucluse Road, Vaucluse, Sydney; tel. +61 (0)2 9337 5999
Colin Delaney is a Sydney-based freelance travel and arts journalist.
Editor’s note: This article was previously published in 2011. It was reformatted and republished in 2017.