The acclaimed new film, Oranges & Sunshine, starring Emily Watson, Hugo Weaving and David Wenham, opened in the United Kingdom yesterday and is slated for a June release here.
It’s about the forced deportation of orphans from the UK to Western Australia and much of it is set in Perth from 1986-87 when the scandal was uncovered.
But producer Emile Sherman – who won an Oscar for The King’s Speech – said the WA city now looked too modern and had too many skyscrapers to be credible.
The 1980s Perth scenes were instead filmed in Adelaide early last year. A shot of the city taken from the Central Market with Westpac House poking above older buildings is labelled "Perth".
"I felt SA was the best place because the film is set in the ’80s so we couldn’t just go to Perth now," Sherman said in the film’s press notes.
"Adelaide felt like the best environment to be able to capture the time – there are probably fewer absolutely new buildings or skyscrapers there but it’s still a significantly-sized city."
Part of the reason for the city’s ageing skyline is Adelaide imposes more restrictive height limits than other capital cities and development was hit hard by the recession of the 1990s. But the comments reignited debate about Adelaide’s willingness to embrace change.
"For too long we’ve looked at the reasons not to build something, whereas other cities have tried to encourage people to build and develop and create opportunities," said Terry Walsh, executive director of SA’s Urban Development Institute of Australia.
With a population of about 1.2 million, Adelaide has six buildings higher than 80 metres – the minimum for a skyscraper. All but one was built before 1991. Perth, with 1.65 million people, has 21 skyscrapers, nine constructed in the past decade and eight on the way.
Property developer Theo Maras said there wasn’t enough demand to support tall office buildings in the Adelaide CBD.
Lord Mayor Stephen Yarwood said Perth’s development was mostly due to the mining boom and visitors to Adelaide had expressed surprise at changes the city had undergone, with more coming.
Three new skyscrapers have been approved, due to be constructed by 2014.