Suburbs in Film, TV & Novels

I guess a lot of our understanding of suburban life actually shows up in our movies and fiction so it’s interesting to look at some of the more memorable Australian films and novels that depict some aspects of suburban life.

I am far from an expert here, but if I were to list a few of my favourites they’d be:


The Castle – This one should go “straight to the pool room” We used to use The Castle as induction training for young American SBC missionaries who came to Oz on short term visits. After arriving here bleary eyed and jet-lagged we’d make them stay up late while we laughed at humour that made absolutely no sense at all to them! Seriously, The Castle is a wonderful movie albeit a caricature of blue collar Australian life. Even down to Bonnydoon as the weekend hideaway… “Ah… the serenity”…

Muriel’s Wedding – This one’s just a bit of a hoot!


Neighbours – would have to be the classic, but I have actually never watched it – and yes I wear that as a badge of honour!

Home & Away – see above

Kath & Kim – ah… now you’re talking! Some might even call this a caricature… but its only funny because we all know people just like the characters in the show! Gotta love the amount of laughs that we can poke at ourselves in this one.


Winter Close by Hugh Mackay This is one of my all time favourites as Mackay describes the relationships in an ordinary suburban street. Its a must read if you are genuinely seeking to reflect on suburban life

Cloudstreet by Tim Winton – This Aussie classic is set in the developing suburbs post war and is just a wonderful read. Then again I have heard plenty of people say they thought it to be crap… I am an avid Winton fan though!

So what about others?

What are your favourite Aussie novels, films & TV shows that give us insights into suburban life?

9 thoughts on “Suburbs in Film, TV & Novels

  1. “The Footy Show” would give insights into what Aussie Males idolise. We might like to think that a sexist, arrogant, single, womanising loser is not a hero…but to a stack of blokes in Aust….he is….

    On another point about the Footy Show…they had footage of Terry Wallace being interviewed at Punt Rd and behind him was a overweight bloke at 10am in the morning who drank a can of coke and downed 6 dim sims during the 10 minute interview….Theres australian suburbia right there!! 🙂

    Ask many Aussie blokes who Tim Winton is…and I doubt they would know.

  2. Hi Hamo,

    Just to let you know Hugh Mackay will is speaking soon at UWA. I am a big fan also. Wed 7.30-9pm Sep 17. Just booked tickets today. May see you there.

  3. Other than maybe Mackay & Winton – the other sources really describe myth and not reality and do a pretty good job at dumbing down – embarassing really.

    Too a lot of ‘blokes’ Mark, he is not hero and I’m not just talking wowsers like me!!!

  4. I really liked Somersault. The story itself could have happened anywhere, but the stuff on the edges was great in terms of insite into some of the subtler elements of aussie culture.

    Also, Japanese story.

  5. Yeah, Keith Farmer (a hero of mine) is no big fan of McKay, But I loved Winter Close, and have appreciated his research in both books on Aussie culture (Re-Inventing Aust and Advance Aust Where?)

    But this one looks interesting, written as a novel, and based in an Aussie suburb it’s called “Who Killed Dave?” it is a comedy who dunnit about a dysfunctional group of neighbours living in Kaos Crescent. It is written by Linda Cockburn who wrote the brilliant “Living The Good Life”, a true story about her decision to see if she her partner and son could live for 3 (or was it 6?) months without spending money. They have now moved fromo Gympie QLD to Tassie and buildingtheir own Hay Bail house etc. She will release the novel in the next few months I think. Link –

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