The immediately recognisable landscape of the Blue Mountains could become a more common sight on the silver screen, following the announcement of a new recovery package to help the local film history.
The federal government will invest more than $119,000 in the Blue Mountains Economic Revitalisation project, jointly funded by Blue Mountains City Council under Round 5 of the Build Better Regions Fund (BBRF).
The recovery package is designed in three parts: to connect young people with the film industry and promote Blue Mountains locations as options for upcoming films; for the local council to refresh its Blue Mountains destination management plan; and the launch of a business mentoring program.
"We have seen Australia's very own Chris Hemsworth filming around Katoomba for a new series with National Geographic, and this latest federal funding will help turbo-charge a place-based approach to luring more investment and tourism into the region," said Liberal Senator Marise Payne.
"The government understands that a strong tourism sector is part of the lifeblood of the Blue Mountains and has a positive flow-on effect for local small businesses. That is why we have also worked with the NSW Government to recently deliver over $2.6 million for the Blue Mountains Visitor Economy Revitalisation Project, a two-year destination management program that is expected to create more than 1000 local jobs and bring more than 500,000 visitors back to the region."
State Member for the Blue Mountains Trish Doyle cautiously welcomed the announcement.
"Finally, the government sees a need to invest in our community," she said, "to prop up the arts, business and tourism sectors. It only took a pandemic, but is something I have been asking for years of Destination NSW, and was promised but not delivered, by former premier and former Liberal Member for the Blue Mountains, Mike Baird in 2015."
"Our Mountains community deserves a boost and to be in the spotlight - let's hope this promise comes to fruition."
Federal Member for Macquarie Susan Templeman said: "I welcome some support for a Blue Mountains film industry, which is something I began lobbying for back in 2017."
"As part of a parliamentary inquiry into the film and television industry, I made sure we held a hearing in Katoomba, in recognition of the level of expertise our community members have in the sector.
"We have directors, actors, writers, camera operators, lighting, pre- and post-production people - in fact, everything you need including location.
"I walked away from the inquiry seeing the benefits of things like a local one-stop-shop for producers wanting to film in our region and of the formal connecting of the wide range of skills already here."
Blue Mountains mayor, Cr Mark Greenhill, said: "We welcome the recent announcement of Building Better Regions funding for the Blue Mountains.
"The Blue Mountains Economic Revitalisation project will deliver a range of locally developed economic support programs, including a refreshed destination management plan, a sector-based mentoring program targeting local growth and a film industry development program.
"These programs are vital given our local economy has been devastated by bushfires, flooding and the global pandemic in the past two years.
Film-making in the Blue Mountains has a rich history, of course, going back to the filming of director Raymond Longford's silent film A Blue Mountains Mystery (1921), which filmed scenes at both The Carrington Hotel at Katoomba and The Hydro Majestic Hotel at Medlow Bath. The film is, sadly, now lost.
For more information about the BBRF visit www.business.gov.au/bbrf.