After a table read of the first episode script (Sonnigsburg: Day One) on July 6th, 2014, production officially began with a two-day trip to Walhalla the following weekend.
Walhalla is a picturesque town in country Victoria, with fewer than twenty permanent residents. It’s a perfect setting for Sonnigsburg because it’s so visually interesting; nestled in the hills, trees all around, one road winding all the way through. All the buildings look authentically old-fashioned, even if they’ve recently been built.
|Warrandyte State Park, thanks to Parks Victoria|
It’s not so convenient to shoot in, though. It’s a two-hour drive from Melbourne and there is no mobile phone coverage up there, which makes it difficult to co-ordinate a film crew.
Much of our other outdoor filming happened in Warrandyte State Park. We spent a lot of time there, along with nearby Cresco Park scout camp filming in bushland and old mine tunnels. Fiona knew where a lot of these locations were from a childhood playing in those tunnels, several of which are now less accessible because of concerns about safety.
We weren’t permanently outdoors, though. Much of our story takes place in Mount Sunshine’s pub, the Miners’ Arms – which we shot at Station 59 in Richmond. The Mount Sunshine Bed & Breakfast interiors were filmed at Victoria House Motor Inn in Croydon; its exteriors played by SacreCouer, where Fiona went to high school. Our town library was filmed at BoundWords in Hampton. The Mount Sunshine police station was filmed at the Eltham District Historical Society.
And a lot of friends and acquaintances helped us out with houses and apartments for our characters to live in; the most impressive being Frank’s (Ian Stenlake) house that features in episode one. Later in the season there will be glimpses of places outside Mount Sunshine, which we filmed in Melbourne and St Kilda. But I might discuss those things in more detail as the series airs.
|Victoria House Motor Inn, Croydon|
We are so grateful to the people of Walhalla, in particular the owner/operators of Walhalla’s Star Hotel – which is the exterior of the Miners’ Arms. But we owe a lot of thanks to local businesses who allowed us to come in early mornings or after hours to make our show; it wouldn’t feel like our Mount Sunshine without their help.
|Bound Words, Hampton|
|Ian Stenlake under Fiona's parents house in Ashwood|
|Walhalla's Star Hotel|