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Sunday March 3rd 2024

Mad Max 3: Beyond Thunderdome | 1985

Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome filming location: Coober Pedy, South Australia
Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome location: the post-apocalyptic landscapes: Coober Pedy, South Australia | Photograph: wikimedia / Thomas Schoch

The main location for the third part of the trilogy is the strange, moonlike landscape, scarred by opal mining, around Coober Pedy in South Australia. The name means ‘White Man’s Burrow’ – most of the homes here, even the church and the rooms of two of the five motels, are dug out of the ground.

You can visit the dugout house of Jedediah (Bruce Spence), seen at the end of the movie. It’s Crocodile Harry's Underground Nest, about three miles outside Coober Pedy – though Crocodile Harry himself is, sadly, no longer with us.

You can fly out to Coober Pedy or, if you’re more adventurous, take a daily bus from Adelaide or Alice Springs (expect a lengthy journey, 530 miles from Adelaide, 455 from Alice).

To drive there, take National Route 1 from Adelaide to Port Augusta, then continue on Route 87, Stuart Highway. The town is also one of the stop-offs for the trio of dragsters in The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.

Drag of a different kind featured at Homebush State Brickworks, a Sydney brick quarry where ‘Bartertown’ was built. The State Brickworks, established by the NSW Government in 1911 at Homebush, an Inner West suburb, survived the various ups and downs of the housing market. During the Sixties and Seventies, ‘Brickies’, as it was known, became the destination of choice for Sydney’s young drag racers, which is how it’s seen in the 1977 film, The FJ Holden (affectionately dubbed ‘Australian Graffiti’).

In 1988, the Brickworks finally closed and the area was scheduled to be developed as the Olympic Stadium for the 1992 Sydney games. The discovery of a colony of endangered Green and Golden Bell Frogs living in the quarry necessitated a change of plan. Their pond was preserved as an environmental feature of the Olympic Park, and Ring Walk, a suspended walkway, now allows you a bird's-eye view of the tiny amphibians without disturbing their habitat.

Gulag – Max's sentence determined by Auntie Entity’s (Tina Turner) Wheel of Fate – is banishment to The Castle, part of the Breakaways, the end of a mountain chain around 20 miles north of Coober Pedy.

The ‘crack in the earth’ oasis, inhabited by a tribe of feral kids, is Mermaids Cave, a sandstone cave near Blackheath in the Blue Mountains, about 50 miles northwest of Sydney. You can reach the cave by a short walking trail from the Megalong Valley road.