Outback adventure: Home and Away’s Steve Peacocke (left) with Prairie Hotel owner Ross Fargher and, below, Lincoln Younes. Pictures: Mikey Pozarik
IT’S 4.30am, a chilly 7C, pitch black and a long way from Summer Bay as Logie-winning actor Steve Peacocke makes his way to a makeshift make-up station.
The bleary-eyed cast and crew of iconic soap Home and Away are at the Prairie Hotel in dusty Parachilna, surrounded only by the vast South Australian outback.
It’s a momentous occasion for the show - in 25 years of production they’ve left the comforts of Summer Bay just five times: filming in London twice, Hawaii and Melbourne once, and now in our own backyard.
Despite the hour, Peacocke and his co-stars are cheery and ready for another arduous 14-hour shoot.
They are on location for a week at the property of Ross Fargher and his family, filming a highly confidential storyline - to be screened in late September - with co-stars Lincoln Younes and Peacocke’s potential love interest Catherine Mack.
By 5.30am they are aboard a bus.
“I don’t know many of my lines … I’ll be right,” jokes Peacocke.
An affable Dubbo bloke, he is quick to poke fun at himself and his popular status as hardcore surfie gang member Darryl “Brax” Braxton.
“I like having people waiting on me hand and foot and feeling more important than everyone else,” he says, flashing a cheeky grin.
“Nah,” he continues. “That’s the only thing that I dislike, that actors are often treated like this rare commodity and we have to be pampered … having said that, I want a coffee, now!”
By 7am, the sun has begun to peek above the horizon and 30 freshly caffeine-fuelled cast and crew tackle the rough terrain leading to the first filming location - a bare but beautiful spot dubbed Dead Man’s Creek.
The location for this story had to be completely removed from the world of Summer Bay, says series producer Lucy Addario.
“The majestic landscape of the SA Flinders Ranges provided a perfect backdrop for the story to unfold … viewers can expect plenty of action and drama,” she says.
The vibe on set is buzzing, crew are working seamlessly as one to set up cameras and pitch the director’s tent. Peacocke is not in the first scene so he busies himself by offering to fetch chairs for on-set media and a cup of tea for his make-up artist.
The filming process is slow. One particularly complex scene takes two and a half hours to film what will make up just 75 seconds of air time. But that doesn’t phase Younes, who plays Casey Braxton and lightens the mood by dancing in between takes.
“Home and Away is so fast paced and so sporadic with storylines, which is awesome and exciting,” Younes says. “This is just unbelievable, we will never get another opportunity like this to shoot … we’re chuffed that we’ve been allowed to come here, it’s incredible.”
After lunch it’s off to the final shoot destination - red dust sand dunes. All is well, until Peacocke has an awkward wardrobe malfunction.
“Let it be noted that I split two pairs of $200 G-Star pants … that’s $400, that could have gone towards beer, down the drain,” he laughs.
The banter continues through take after take, until filming is wrapped at sundown. Back at the Prairie Hotel, it’s time for a drink and a chat around a camp fire before bed.
Peacocke will be up again at 4.30am but he doesn’t care.
“I’m having the time of my life,” he says.