Baz Luhrmann is famous for his kitschy musical dramas (Strictly Ballroom, Romeo + Juliet, Moulin Rouge) and now he is back with Australia, an epic adventure/romantic love story with again strong musical overtones (The Wizard of Oz plays an important role). If you like his previous work, you will like Australia a lot. If not, you might want to be careful about spending your money on this movie.
Don't get me wrong, it's not a bad movie. But it is certainly an acquired taste. The use of the aboriginal culture as a 'cute' factor is something i'm personally not so comfortable with, and the characterization of Nicole Kidman's Lady Ashley is a bit over the top. But then again, this is a bit for Australia what "Gone with the Wind" must have been for the United States of America.
There are some good moments as well, especially involving Bryan Brown and the bad guy Neil Fletcher. In the end the movie feels like 2 movies, and it might have been better to have cut them in half.
In northern Australia at the beginning of World War II, an English aristocrat inherits a cattle station the size of Maryland. When English cattle barons plot to take her land, she reluctantly joins forces with a rough-hewn stock-man to drive 2,000 head of cattle across hundreds of miles of the country's most unforgiving land, only to still face the bombing of Darwin, Australia, by the Japanese forces that had attacked Pearl Harbor only months earlier.
Quote from Austalia:
Drover: We're not really used to...
Lady Sarah Ashley: A woman? I suppose you think I should be back in Darwin, at the church fete or a lady's whatever you call it. Well I will have you know, I am as capable as any man.
Drover: Guests. We're not used to guests is what I was about to say but now that you mention it I happen to quite like the women of the outback.