The original outdoor sets for Hercules and Xena were at Sturges Road, just west of Henderson in the western suburbs. Much of the first season or two was shot there. The outdoor sets included a town, a thatched village, a most impressive castle, and a big quarry. There was also a stretch of woodland and a fair-sized lake, held back by a low dam.
|The Sturges Road valley in 2000. This was obviously taken after
Renpics had left the site.
Sturges Road (bottom) and Simpson Road (just in shot top left) wind along the ridges; the valley runs from middle left to top right.
This is guesswork: I think Renpics site was roughly triangular, with the bottom of the triangle behind the houses along Sturges Road, the right-hand boundary borders the encroaching housing subdivision, the left-hand boundary cuts straight across the valley just to the left of the lake, and a short boundary cuts off the top of the triangle.
At some point Pacific Renaissance moved their main production sets to 'Lion
Park', the site of a short-lived safari park, a few miles to the north.
However they continued to use parts of Sturges Road, in particular the lake,
for a considerable time after that. Reputedly there was a large pool
(presumably artificial) that they used for filming even as late as The
Sadly, creeping suburbia has caught up with Sturges Road, and now 'Xena Way' and 'Hercules Drive' occupy part of the land where cinematic magic was made. It is not an improvement.
I never saw the site myself, PacRen had moved to Lion Park well before I became interested in location hunting, though they continued to use the lake for a long time after that. However, Bevis King visited the site when it was in full use and took a number of photos, many of which feature on this page.
I would guess that the circular bits of track still visible in the enlargement below reveal the location of some of the major sets.
|And this, more recently located, is from 1996 when the sets were in full use. |
The lake is retained by a low earth dam at the right-hand end, and edged by lines of trees which conveniently screen the sets from views across the lake.
Clusters of buildings can be seen, unfortunately the resolution is not good enough to clearly identify the sets.
It is tempting to speculate whether many 'woodland' scenes were shot in the small wood to the left (west) of the lake, but we don't know if Renpics' lease extended that far.
The lake was the most distinctive feature of the site, and was used in many episodes of Hercules and Xena. The latest use that comes to mind is in the funeral scene in A Good Day.
looking east across the low dam on the
far side (End of Dirty Half Dozen)
(Opposite direction to the photo above)
with no better luck than the first time
(from When a Man Loves a Woman)
This, I think, is looking south-south-west
from almost the same point
as in the right-hand photo above
I think this is the little clearing at the
south end of the lake (see the airphoto)
Along the south-eastern side of the lake, so far as I can deduce from visual evidence in episodes, ran a straight track, bordered by a line of conifers on one side and gum trees on the lake side. (Gum trees are an Australian import - tall, straight trunks, with smooth light-coloured bark, and an umbrella of feathery foliage high up - a very decorative tree). This track featured in many of the early episodes, and, like the lake, continued in use for a long time, even as late as mid-Season 3.
characters in the show, I think) narrowly
escapes being lynched in Cradle of Hope.
The lake is just the other side of the
line of gum trees, right. Notice how
the ground slopes in that direction.
Zeus has just saved Herc's neck in
For the rest, since I never saw it, I can't offer many comments on the sets. They don't show up on the airphoto which was taken later. I could point out some identifications which spring to mind - the bottom middle shot of the castle for example, is the wall Xena climbed in Dirty Half Dozen, and the quarry backround is a dead cert for A Necessary Evil - but I think I'll leave that to the viewers and let Bevis's photos speak for themselves.
This was more elaborate and 'traditional' than the Lion Park fort, with complicated battlements with crenellations and embrasures. It appears to have been a crazy mixture of architectural styles - rather as many real castles developed, only more so. I rather think they blew it up (or one end of it at least, the middle bottom shot) beyond repair at the end of Dirty Half Dozen.
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