06 JULY 2015:
After having done the Home and Away (henceforth known as “H&A”) tour in Sydney, I felt I had to do the Neighbours tour as well. I’ve watched both shows for as long as I can remember, and although I think I am more of a Home and Away girl, I still also watch Neighbours religiously to this day. I remember coming home from work at lunchtimes to watch Neighbours with my Dad so I will always have fond memories of the show, and I am sure my Dad would have loved to do the tour with me.
Coincidentally, and very luckily for me, the meet up point was only two doors down from the Adina hotel where I was staying on Flinders Street so I could pretty much just roll out of bed on tour day. There were quite a lot of people on the tour, around 15 or so, and surprisingly even a couple of men who came of their own free will and on their own! The tour guide was from Belfast but seemed to really know his stuff about the show and gave us some interesting insights into how they do the filming. The information wasn’t dissimilar to what I learned from the H&A tour though.
We took the mini bus to the Lassiters complex first. We passed Dial-A-Kyle and Fitzgerald Motors and even managed to go inside and play with some of the mechanic props. Opposite to Fitzgerald Motors was Grease Monkeys, the Antique shop and the famous bus stop! Needless to say, we managed several good photo opportunities. Unfortunately we weren’t able to get out of the minibus at the Lassiters complex (they only allow that on the weekend tours I think) but we still got to see the hotel and lake as we drove past.
Afterwards we headed to Ramsey Street which is a lot smaller than it looks on TV. Only the outside of the houses are used for filming, and again like in H&A, these iconic houses are owned by normal people/families and the production pays them a lot of money for the privilege of filming the outside of their abodes. We were able to take photos outside of the houses with the famous Ramsey Street sign. Interestingly, Ramsey Street is a fictional name as the road is actually called Pin Oak Street.
Afterwards we drove to St Kilda to meet one of the stars from the show who that day happened to be Harley Bonner aka Josh Willis. I think it is a bit random as to which star you meet as they seem to book in whichever actor is available that day to meet the tour group. He was very friendly and spoke with the group for around half an hour and signed some autographs and posed for many photos with the group. He also gave a couple of spoilers and insights in to the way the show is produced.
After that we headed back to the meet up spot on Flinders Street and the tour guide put the 30 year anniversary DVD on to keep us entertained during the drive back. Overall, the tour was very good and lasted approx 3 hours in total which was adequate.
We didn’t get to see any filming but we still got to see all of the iconic landmarks from the show. I don’t actually think that the public are permitted to view filming at all. Unfortunately the cold weather made the tour hard to enjoy to the full. The Australian soaps make you believe there is always nice weather in Australia but that is definitely not the case! All smoke and mirrors on the show, it always looks sunny and everything looks big. Apparently everyone who attends the tour says they are surprised the street and fiming landmarks are so small.
You can only stand outside the houses and not go to the front doors or gardens etc as people live in the houses but it’s still good that you can take photos of the outside of their homes. If you are just interested in visiting the street and seeing the houses then you could do it without doing the tour. Just go to the Pin Oak Street yourself. However by doing the tour you get information about the show, get to see the other outdoor filming locations e.g. Grease Monkeys, and it provides a much fuller experience than just seeing Ramsey Street. It’s also nice doing a tour as you share the experience with a group of others who also appreciate the show.
How does it compare to the H&A tour?
Well, it’s hard to say as I enjoyed them both very much. I did get to wrap my arms around the very handsome Harley Bonner so that was a bonus! Neighbours was more of a guided tour but with H&A you were given a lot more freedom to walk around Palm Beach on your own and explore the area. Also H&A had lunch included in the package, and the drive was a lot prettier as they took us down the Northern coast of Sydney, whereas Melbourne city doesn’t offer as many scenic views (at least in my opinion) so the drive wasn’t particularly interesting. I think I enjoyed the tours equally but in different ways so I am very glad I took the time to do both whilst in Australia.
Another tick off my childhood dream bucket list! 🙂