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Talking Australia with Radha Mitchell

We talk to the Australian actress ahead of the release of her new film, Swinging Safari. 

By Jessica Wilkinson
Published June 29, 2017

Forming her career in the Australian dramas Blue Heelers and Neighbours, Radha Mitchell has grown to be one of Australia’s most quietly successful exports. Mitchell became a darling of the indie scene with films to the likes of Love And Other Catastrophes and has starred in big-budget films alongside Hollywood heavyweights like Johnny Depp (Finding Neverland, 2004), Denzel Washington (Man On Fire, 2004) and Morgan Freeman (Olympus has Fallen, 2013).

Looking ahead, Mitchell is staunchly waving the Australian flag with her upcoming films The Shack (2017) with fellow Australian actor Sam Worthington and Swinging Safari with Kylie Minogue, Guy Pierce, Julien McMahon and Asher Keddie.

The latter is a new, wildly colourful comedy from director Stephan Elliott (of The Adventures Of Priscilla: Queen of the Desert fame), filmed on the south-east coast of Queensland in late 2016. Set in 1975 Australia, the film is armed to be a glorious romp through Australia’s beachside history and Mitchell is amoung a stellar Australian cast to help bring the story to life.

Ahead of its December release, we talk to Mitchell about growing up in Australia, what she misses most and the unique way she recovers from jet-lag. 

Q&A with Radha Mitchell, Actress

Radha Mitchell, Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne, Victoria

Where did you grow up in Australia and where do you come back to the most?

"I was born in Melbourne. When I’m in Australia, I always find myself in Melbourne, Sydney and Tasmania but I also love Byron Bay and Queensland.  I often try to squeeze it all in and do my own little tour when I’m home."

The first time you remember being homesick, what aspect of Australia did you miss the most?

"The first time I remember being homesick was as a kid in India. I think I had had Delhi BelIy. Surrounded by curry, all I wanted was a vegemite sandwich."

"I really miss the pace in Australia, the wry humour and the closeness and ease of relationships. I love the purity of the air in Tasmania, the balmy atmosphere of Northern Queensland, the street art in Melbourne and Sydney?  Well, Sydney is just sexy."

If you were to plan a 2-day weekend in Australia with your friends from overseas, what would you do with them?

"If I were to plan that trip to Oz with a bunch of Americans I would land in Hobart and grab a delicious breakfast in Salamanca Place. I would then take my compadres into the deep Tasmania wilderness. Hike, canoe and get a sea plane out, and then head to The Museum of Old and New Art for an amazing hit of art and culture."

What are some of your favourite restaurants or food experiences in Australia?

"The best restaurants are definitely in Melbourne. Amazing wines in Tasmania. Everyone has to try Home Hill Tasmanian Pinot Noir. So good."

Radha Mitchell, Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne, Victoria

Favourite holiday destination and why?

"I like Byron but I've grown to love Noosa on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast for its epic sea walk and its easy family friendly ambience. For hiking, I love the Glass House Mountains which are also in the area. Lamington National Park is magnificent. Think sunlight dappled rainforests, ancient tree species and sweeping vistas of green mountains and valleys, kooky wood cabins guest houses for tree lovers, twitchers and botanical geeks. Personally, I love walking without shoes and feeling the ancient soil under foot."

Favourite place for a romantic weekend?

"I would take up my on hold reservation at Rae’s on Wategos. I’m still trying to squeeze it into my schedule. Love that place and its gorgeous location."

Best luxury hotel?

"There is an amazing tree house in Blipin, New South Wales.  It really is pretty spectacular."

Where will your next Australian holiday be?

"Realistically, I think Byron Bay, but I’m actually super curious about Broome, in Western Australia."

How would you describe Australian fashion? Where are some of the best shopping spots to visit?

"Australian fashion is casual and sexy. For Australian brands, I would pop about on Chapel Street in Melbourne. Great coffee too!"

Radha Mitchell, Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne, Victoria

What makes Australia different from other places you have been?

"I love Australia for its diverse and pristine natural environments and I really do love the people. Australians are a quirky bunch of individuals.  They can be eccentric but they are always kind, tough and ‘real.’ I love to immerse myself in this perspective, especially after long bouts of Lala land."

What do you do in your downtime in Australia?

"Huge hits of family and friends. On the hour. And to truly relax, I've recently discovered the hyperbaric oxygen chamber on Chapel Street. If you're curious about what it feels like to sit in a pressurised chamber equivalent to being 10 metres under the ocean while sucking on an oxygen tube then perhaps you too might find this interesting. Definitely novel and great for any post-flight fatigue to revive."

What do you do pack when returning to Australia for a holiday?

"Too much. I'm a pack rat and I hate shopping."

What is the one bit of advice you would give to someone travelling to Australia from the US?

"For a quality experience with no hassles, you have to fly Qantas. Direct flights to every city. Great food. Nice people. It’s a 16-hour flight from LA. Trust me. Just do it."