A is for Albany
Welcome to Albany in the Great Southern Region of Western Australia. The area offers some of the most stunning scenery in Australia set in a colour palette that can seem other-worldly, as if every tint and hue in existence have been mixed and then sprinkled on the land. Throw in a generous scattering of small town friendliness, history and stunning architecture and you have just some of the delights of Albany.
“I would say Albany is a really significant character in the story and, for want of a better term, the innocence and the charm of the place is a character in the story,” (Richard Roxburgh - Dad).
Welcome to Albany
Natural wonders abound in this historical coastal city. Albany’s dramatic coastline is dotted with white sandy coves and clear blue waters perfect for swimming, surfing, diving and whale watching. With granite hills, limestone cliffs and rolling green paddocks making up the landscape of the city and its surrounds.
As the final departure point for the first ANZAC troops, Albany offers visitors a deeply personal connection to the ANZAC story at the National Anzac Centre.
In 1826 Major Edmund Lockyer arrived abroad the Brig Amity to establish the first settlement in Western Australia. On the 27th of January 1827 a ceremony was held celebrating the founding of the settlement. In 1832 the Governor of the Swan River Colony, Sir James Stirling visited the settlement. With the possibility of moving the Western Australian Capital to King George Sound he renamed the town Albany after the Duke of York and Albany. Albany became an important port for ships travelling from Europe to the Eastern States and for people travelling to the West Australian gold rush. By 1898 500 passengers a week were disembarking in Albany form the Eastern States.
“We are so thrilled with the inimitable cast and creative crew set to bring this vibrant world to life. Coupled with the unique vision of our talented director John Sheedy, and the beautiful locations in Albany WA, we know we’re making something special for family audiences and anyone who enjoys a uplifting film experience.” (Producer Julie Ryan).
Finding the Locations- an interview with Location Manager Crystal Munitich
The original location scout for this film, Mike Montague searched a number of places in this part of Western Australia and came back with the vision of Albany. He believed the magic it held worked perfectly with John's (Director) vision of an enchanted world full of colour and vibrancy along with the stylised look of the city itself.
What is special for you about Albany and the locations? What is your favourite?
For me personally, Albany has such beautiful clear water and the beaches are just amazing. The locations themselves have a character about them along with a quirkiness like white picket fences from the 1950's. My favourite place has to be the Phee house I guess because it just suits her character so perfectly. When we walked in there for the first time we knew it had the right bones. An established mystical garden, big trees, wooden floors, beautiful furnishings. It is just a magical place. We could picture her on her bicycle riding through the gardens, down the path, around the trees.
When we first arrived we noticed the chooks would sometimes fly over from the next door property. It was so funny. The Art Department decided to add some themselves just in case they came from next door during filming. It just created a touch of rural to it even though the house is in the city.
What memory will you personally take away from being part of this film?
Complete happiness. It has been such a happy hardworking crew and everybody at every location that I have worked with are just so thrilled that we are showing off Albany. The community support has been phenomenal for our industry and the town has such a diverse group of artists here that so many people are so enthusiastic about the film and what it means for Albany.
Over four days in late 2018 Stirling Terrace, York Street and Grey Street were all closed at various times to allow filming to take place in downtown Albany. A major star of the film is the Argyle Buildings on Stirling Terrace and whilst the music store and the cafe were temporarily transformed they are now back in their former glory. Kates Place allows you to sit a while and enjoy coffee and food in the actual film location. Whether it be a piece of their award winning carrot cake or famous vanilla slice make sure you visit and spend some time either outside watching the world pass by or inside on their comfortable couches.
The film wouldn’t have happened without the local Albany people. From the vendors supplying the crew with equipment, through to our locations, to the support we’re getting from the council and the development commission, and the chamber of commerce, and through to you our interns, our local crew that we have working on the film, and of course the local cast and extras. (Producer Tenille Kennedy)
The area here was originally a vegetable garden for the old state school and the gardens are named after a long-serving teacher at Albany State School, Alison Edith Hartman (1906-1978). Situated towards the rear of the park is a very large Common Oak (Quercus robur) that dates back to the 1890's. It was this tree that was chosen for Candice and Douglas first kiss.
Mike found all these places and when he showed the director this tree and John just said – I love it and we can use it perfectly. We were looking for a tree that gives a little magic to showcase this classic little romantic kiss that happens there, its absolutely gorgeous. (Crystal Munitich)
Vancouver Arts Centre
Two other locations were used in Albany. The Phee Family home is private property and not available to visit. Nearby, however is the fine Vancouver Arts Centre. Based in a historic building (the original Hospital) the venue features touring, private and curated exhibitions and is an active community arts centre and home to many local arts and crafts groups. It is well worth a visit.
Albany Senior High School
The grand buildings of Albany Senior High appear in the film as Candice's School. Established in 1918 and relocated to the current site in 1924, the buildings were designed by the principal architect of Western Australia, William Hardwick.
The Pines Lake Park
It's at Pines Lake Park where the biggest tallest tree in town can be found and also where the mysterious white horse lives. The location is close to the main South Coast Highway and provides the opportunity to walk through the large stands of radiata pines as well as a great place for a picnic beside a small lake. There are even barbecues and table provided!
Situated a short drive (or brisk walk) from Albany, the Middleton Lookout is part of a board walk that was used in the film as part of a montage sequence which marks Candice’s transition to teenage-hood. The Middleton Beach Board Walk will take you from the port of Albany around the coast to Middleton Beach. In addition to the stunning views of the harbour you will also see signs of the deep historical aspects of the region and its direct links to the rest of Australia, New Zealand and further afield to the beaches of Gallipoli and the trenches of the Somme.
Albany and World War I Heritage
It was from Albany that the first convoy, carrying 30,000 young Australian and New Zealand troops, horses and supplies to the First World War, left on 1 November 1914. Albany was the last Australian port of call for Australian servicemen sailing from the eastern states to join the Allied forces in Europe and Africa. Sadly, it would be the last sight of home that many would ever see. The ANZAC legend wasn’t even born as the 38 ships steamed out of the whaling port bound for Alexandria in Egypt, but just six months later on April 25, 1915 that legend would be forged on the beaches and rocky hillsides of the Turkish coast at a place called Gallipoli.
Mt Clarence, home of the Desert Mounted Corps memorial, is part of the 260-hectare Albany Heritage Park in the heart of Albany, offering a unique blend of natural, cultural and historical attractions.
It was also in Albany that the first ANZAC Day service in Australia took place at St Johns. After the service the padre and some members of the congregation climbed to the summit of Mount Clarence as it was from this viewpoint that the people of Albany had gathered in 1914 to look at the great convoy of ships that had gathered in the Sound. It has been reported that as Padre White looked over Princess Royal Harbour, he said we should commemorate them this way every Anzac Day.
The Desert Mounted Corps Memorial
The Desert Mounted Corps Memorial stands at the summit of Mt Clarence. It is a recast of the original statue erected at Suez in 1932. The granite blocks are the originals from Suez and bullet marks can still be seen on them. The statue is a copy of one originally forming part of a memorial which was erected at Port Said, Egypt and unveiled on 23 November 1932 by the rt. Hon. William Morris Hughes. It was irreparably damaged during the Suez Crisis in 1956. The masonry was salvaged and brought to australia for re-erection on this site which, for many troops who sailed from King George Sound in 1914, was their last glimpse of Australian soil. It was unveiled by rt. Hon. Sir Robert Menzies, Prime Minister of Australia on 11 October 1964.
The National ANZAC Centre
Opened on the 1st of November 2014 by the Prime Ministers of Australia and New Zealand, The National Anzac Centre is an award-winning facility that uses multimedia, interactive technology and historical artefacts to create a deeply personal connection with the past, as well as pay tribute to those who served.
The interpretive content that forms part of the interactive experience was developed by the Western Australian Museum and the Australian War Memorial and is delivered via a series of interactive visual and audible displays. The experience delivered at the NAC is known for commemorating the war through the stories of the Anzacs as opposed to telling its own story via pro-war or anti-war sentiments.
The symbolic location of the centre, selected for its strong sense of place as it looks out across King George Sound, forms an important part of the interpretation. The dramatic architecture, featuring spectacular vistas of the Sound, purposefully enhances the narrative and creates a contemplative space. The building design lends itself to a telescopic view overlooking the location from where the convoys gathered and then left.
The Convoy Walk connects the parade ground of Princess Royal Fortress to the Convoy Lookout at the summit of Mt Adelaide. Both the Walk and Lookout feature interpretive markers bearing detailed information about the ships of the first and second Anzac convoys.
Maitraya has played host to many A-listers, including international superstar Lady Gaga.
Lady Gaga is rumoured to have composed music while relaxing at Maitraya. She left a glowing tribute in the visitor's book and it's now framed above the very piano she is rumoured to have used whilst composing two songs.
Situated close to Maitraya, Nanarup Beach is approximately 4.2 km in length and a feature are the beautiful old trees at the western end where the Taylor Inlet discharges into the ocean. There are barbecues and shaded picnic areas. For those with correctly equipped 4WD vehicles it is possible to drive from here to my award-winning beach.
Voted in the top five of Australia's top secret spots and best beach in Western Australia, Little Beach is part of Two Peoples Bay Nature Reserve. The reserve is perhaps most important for being home to the critically endangered Gilbert’s potoroo and the endangered noisy scrub-bird, both of which were presumed extinct until being rediscovered at Two Peoples Bay. An excellent visitor centre at Two Peoples Bay has lots of information about local history, wildlife and important recovery programs for threatened species.
With a combination of white sand, azure water, granite headlands & greenery, Little Beach easily surpasses some of the famous beaches around the world.
Filming was undertaken over a three day period in early December with all of the jetty's scenes being filmed as well as Candice's attempt to bring her family back together and the restaurant scene for Mum's birthday.
The Gap and Natural Bridge
Here the mighty force of the Southern Ocean crashes on to massive granite outcrops and the result is simply astounding. Constant erosion has created The Gap, where the waves rush in and out with tremendous ferocity whilst at the nearby Natural Bridge this same force has created an arch that spans over the surging torrent below. Spectacular at all times, the peak flow in the face of a southerly storm is the true evidence of the sheer power of nature.
Frenchman Bay Road
There are a number of places to visit along this road, with good roads leading into the National Park to both sea viewpoints and trails leading through the heathlands amongst the granite rocks.
At the end of Frenchman Bay Road is Albany’s Historic Whaling Station which was the last operating station in Australia and provides a fascinating insight into Albany’s colourful past. Recognised as a heritage site, the whaling station is an engaging and educational tourism attraction for all ages to enjoy.
The wind farm is open to the general public every day of the year and you are free to visit when you wish. There is a large car-parking area, extensive network of boardwalks, artwork and information panels, plus a connection walk to the Bibbulmum track.
The location of the actual place where filming was undertaken is at Wind Mill 10. There is an unsealed road that will take you to this point. Google map directions from the main carpark are here. Once you have parked at this location there is also a short walk to a coastal viewpoint with stunning views of the sea as it relentlessly pounds the shore.
West Cape Howe National Park
Jutting boldly into the Southern Ocean, West Cape Howe is the most southern promontory of Western Australia.
The park’s exceptionally scenic landscape includes dramatic cliffs of granite and black dolerite, isolated golden beaches, rock islands, rugged limestone outcrops and complex patterns of vegetation including patches of karri forest, peppermint thickets and windswept heathlands. Nearly 500 species of plants are found in the park including banksias, trigger plants and more than 50 species of orchids.
Camping is permitted at the beach and the area is presided over a very cheerful chap who takes his vacation here every year to oversee the basic facilities. Unsurprisingly, he has no plans of retiring!
Time moves slowly here, only the clouds and the sea provide motion.
Denmark is a charming town, located on the banks of the beautiful Denmark River. With its rugged coastline and towering forests, the town offers visitors unforgettable scenery, quality wineries and plenty of activities.
Denmark has a number of places to both eat and stay and few hours can easily be spent wandering the town centre. Make sure you take a walk down to the riverside for views of the Denmark River and verdant landscape that surrounds it.
On this day tour we will travel out to Ocean Beach and its surrounding bays to take in the stunning views as well as taking in some lunch at The Lake House, located amidst the stunning Karri Trees that are a highlight.
The Lake House
When you visit The Lake House, it's all about slowing down, taking time out, laid-back lunches, long conversation, fine wines, homemade and handmade, wholesome food, picnics, friends old and new, delicious cakes, great stories, coffee, fond memories and warm hospitality.
The Lake House Denmark produces a range of premium, award winning cool climate wines from the Great Southern region. With superb fruit flavours that capture the character and richness of the region, attention to detail and exemplary wine making The Lake House Denmark has crafted four ranges — the quirky lifestyle label ‘He Said She Said’, The Postcard Series, the Premium Reserve Range and a Museum Range.
The producers would like to thank the City of Albany and the Great Southern Region for their support.
H is for Happiness was produced with the assistance of Screen Australia, Screenwest and the West Australian Regional Film Fund, Melbourne International Film Festival Premiere Fund, Film Victoria and Universal Pictures. It was financed with the assistance of Bonsai Films, Cyan Films, LM Hoppe, Marshalls+Dent+Wilmoth, Soundfirm, Sandbox and The Koop
The H is for Happiness Film Location Guide was developed for Screenwest by Ian Brodie. Images courtesy of Happiness Film Productions Pty Ltd & Ian Brodie.