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Home and Away's behind-the-scenes secrets revealed

Beloved Australian soap Home and Away may have been running for over 34 years, but there are still a few secrets that the show maintains to keep the magic alive. If you've ever wondered just what happens behind the scenes of the soap, read on.

Home and Away cast on Palm Beach in Sydney
The current cast of Home and Away on Sydney's Palm Beach, which doubles as Summer Bay. Photo: Instagram/@homeandaway

Is Summer Bay real?

Summer Bay is fictional and the show is filmed all over Sydney and New South Wales. However, the show's iconic beach is actually North Palm Beach in Sydney. Palm Beach is home to many of the exterior and outdoor scenes, including the beach, some of the houses, Alf's Bait Shop and the Surf Club. If you visit the real surf club there, you'll find the sign North Palm Beach Surf Lifesaving Club, but on the beachfront, it proudly boasts Summer Bay Surf Life Saving Club, with "A Stewart" listed as club patron.

Home and Away actors on set at North Palm Beach
Home and Away is filmed on location around Sydney. Photo: Instagram/@homeandaway

The majority of the show's interior scenes are shot at Channel 7's studio in Redfern, which has shocked viewers in the past. "Soooo you are telling me it's not a real house?" one viewer wrote after cast member Luke Van Os revealed the sets on his TikTok account. "That’s what I thought too, I'm shocked!" another fan added.

The Stewart house and the Caravan Park are located in Kenthurst. Interestingly, the Summer Bay house is the only house to "still be seen on screen since the pilot episode".

Home and Away opening titles
Sydney's picturesque Northern Beaches provide the outdoor locations for Summer Bay. Photo: Seven

How much do Home and Away extras get paid?

Extras are non-speaking background roles that fill up scenes at the beach, in the restaurant, café and school. Often they’ll be asked to pretend to speak to make the scene more realistic. A former Home and Away extra revealed to Fitzy & Wippa that she makes around $350 for a 10-hour day. The $35 hourly wage is substantially higher than the national minimum wage and extras often get catered meals due to the long hours.

How do I become an extra on Home and Away?

Home and Away fans can become extras on the show by joining an extras agency in Sydney. Voom Management has been supplying extras to the show for years, and say they are "always looking for a wide variety of actors and extras". According to the agency, all looks and age groups are welcome.

Who are the longest-serving Home and Away characters?

The iconic series has been on air since January 1988 and while it's had hundreds of characters over the decades, only one has been on it since the beginning. Ray Meagher, who plays Alf Stewart, was in the pilot episode and is still in the show over 34 years later. In fact, he won a Guinness World Record for the "longest serving continuous soap character on Australian TV".

Ray Meagher poses with the award for most popular actor at the 60th Annual Logie Awards
Home and Away star Ray Meagher has played Alf Stewart since the first episode of the soap and won the award for most popular actor at the 60th Annual Logie Awards. Photo: Getty Images

Coming in second with over 29 years is Lynne McGranger – aka Irene Roberts – who has starred on the show since 1993. The third longest-serving star is Ada Nicodemou, who plays Leah Patterson. Ada started in March 2000 and has been on the show for over 22 years.

Why does Home and Away take a break over the summer?

Home and Away is known for having outrageous cliffhangers before taking an extended break over the Australian summer. The show usually films around 230 episodes per year, with Channel Seven filming at least five days a week for 46 weeks a year, which can be a pretty intense working schedule. While fans complain about missing their daily Summer Bay fix, the cast and crew are given much-needed time off around the Christmas period.

Cast of Australian soap Home and Away over the years
Just some of the Home and Away cast over the years. Photo: Channel 7

Why does the Home and Away cast change so often?

The majority of cast members on Home and Away are originally offered a three-year contract when they join the show. It's then up to the writers, cast and producers - and the audience - whether they will stay on after that. Younger stars don't usually stay for an extended period of time, as many have their eye on other acting roles or want to break into Hollywood. However, the door is usually open for a character to return, even if they have been killed off. Actors often talk about their time on the soap fondly and refer to the crew as "family".

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