With the excitement surrounding The Great Gatsby release, I thought it would be fun to take you on a tour through Sydney and explore the locations where Baz Luhrmann brought The Great Gatsby scenes to life.
"The one on my right was a colossal affair by any standard — it was a factual imitation of some Hotel de Ville in Normandy, with a tower on one side, spanking new under a thin beard of raw ivy, and a marble swimming pool, and more than forty acres of lawn and garden. It was Gatsby’s mansion."
In Luhrmann's mind, there was one building that stood out to be transformed into Jay Gatsby's Long Island Mansion - St Patrick's College in Manly. Built in 1885, it was used as a seminary (post secondary school for becoming a clergy or minister). When it closed in 1995, the International College of Management began using it. It's also well known as the location of Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban's wedding.
For the film vast amounts of faux ivy were attached to the bottom two levels of the building, while a temporary fountain was added in the courtyard. After filming, special effects added in turrets and other detail.
Gatsby's Estate & Nick Carraway's House
"The practical thing was to find rooms in the city, but it was a warm season, and I had just left a country of wide lawns and friendly trees, so when a young man at the office suggested that we take a house together in a commuting town, it sounded like a great idea. He found the house, a weather-beaten cardboard bungalow at eighty a month, but at the last minute the firm ordered him to Washington, and I went out to the country alone. I had a dog — at least I had him for a few days until he ran away — and an old Dodge and a Finnish woman, who made my bed and cooked breakfast and muttered Finnish wisdom to herself over the electric stove."
Out of all the buildings in The Great Gatsby (both the book and the movie), Nick Carraway's 'bungalow' is my favourite. There's something quaint and endearing about the place. In Baz Luhrmann's version of The Great Gatsby, Carraway's house was built and filmed in Centennial Park, as was Gatsby's estate. The sets were taken down after filming.
Valley of Ashes
"About half way between West Egg and New York the motorroad hastily joins the railroad and runs beside it for a quarter of a mile, so as to shrink away from a certain desolate area of land. This is a valley of ashes- a fantastic farm where ashes grow like wheat into ridges and hills and grotesque gardens where ashes take the forms of houses and chimneys and rising smoke and finally, with a transcendent effort, of men who move dimly and already crumbling through the powdery air. Occasionally a line of grey cars crawls along an invisible track, gives out a ghastly creak and comes to rest, and immediately the ash-grey men swarm up with leaden spade and stir up an impenetrable cloud which screens their obscure operations from your sight."
White Bay Power Station in Rozelle was transformed into the working class area where Wilson's Garage is found.
"The valley of ashes is bounded on one side by a small foul river, and when the drawbridge is up to let barges through, the passengers on waiting trains can stare at the dismal scene for as long as half an hour. There is always a halt there of at least a minute and it was because of this that I first met Tom Buchanan's mistress."
"Their house was even more elaborate than I expected, a cheerful red-and-white Georgian Colonial mansion, overlooking the bay. The lawn started at the beach and ran toward the front door for a quarter of a mile, jumping over sun-dials and brick walks and burning gardens — finally when it reached the house drifting up the side in bright vines as though from the momentum of its run. The front was broken by a line of French windows, glowing now with reflected gold and wide open to the warm windy afternoon, and Tom Buchanan in riding clothes was standing with his legs apart on the front porch."
Daisy's exterior of the Georgian mansion was built on a sound stage at Fox Studios, one of 42 sets created for the film. Other details were placed in post-production using special effects.
"About five o’clock our procession of three cars reached the cemetery and stopped in a thick drizzle beside the gate — first a motor hearse, horribly black and wet, then Mr. Gatz and the minister and I in the limousine, and a little later four or five servants and the postman from West Egg in Gatsby’s station wagon, all wet to the skin. As we started through the gate into the cemetery I heard a car stop and then the sound of someone splashing after us over the soggy ground. I looked around. It was the man with owl-eyed glasses whom I had found marvelling over Gatsby’s books in the library one night three months before."
One of the world's top ten most beautiful cemeteries, according to CNN, Waverley Cemetery was the set for Gatsby's funeral, complete with fake rain to create the drizzle. It's known for it's views and Victorian and Edwardian monuments that are still in good shape today. The cemetery has been used in several films and tv shows since the 1970's.
Follow the Film Star Trail
But no need to stop there. If you're in Sydney, there are two more trails to follow. If you're a film buff, follow the lives of the casts and check out where they ate, shopped and stayed, for yourself.
The Astral at The Star
While we can’t stay at the "10k a week, five bedroom, five bathroom waterfront mansion (complete with pool, jetty and cruiser), located in Vaucluse that Leo Di Caprio stayed at, we can catch our zzz’s at The Astral at The Star. He eventually moved there after a few weeks, after the word got out about the mansion.
The Star also seemed to be his playground when he wasn’t filming The Great Gatsby. The following are restaurants where Toby Maguire, Leo Di Caprio, Carey Mulligan or Baz Luhrmann and his wife, Catherine Martin have been spotted.
Black by Ezard, best known for their seafood dishes and ‘grass and grain fed dry aged beef.’
Ground Level, Harbourside, at The Star, Pyrmont
Sokyo, an incredibly popular high end Japanese restaurant.
Ground Level at The Star, Pyrmont
Felix, a One Chef Hat French bistro.
2 Ash St, Sydney
Aria, Circular Quay. Think views of the Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge, a too-die-for menu, Two Chef Hats, and owned by celebrity chef Matt Moran.
1 Macquarie St, Sydney
Otto Ristorante, Italian cuisine, located on Woolloomooloo Wharf.
6 Cowper Wharf Rd, Woolloomooloo
Live the 1920's
If you're looking for a 1920's spin on your trip, check out the following:
Palmer and Co. Think jazz singers, prohibition cocktails and true 1920’s fashion from the hostesses and bartenders. You’ll think you’ve stepped back in time.
Abercrombie Lane, Sydney
Eau De Vie is another done up in the 1920’s style. In true speakeasy style, you’ll have to find the bar (which has no signage out front). I’d suggest using your 21st century technology and punching in 229 Darlinghurst Rd, Darlinghurst to your phone.
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