Western Australia declares itself the star of Luhrmann film

LONDON - Tourism Western Australia is launching a £250,000 advertising campaign promoting its Kimberley region as the real star of Baz Luhrmann's film blockbuster 'Australia'.

The campaign includes a 30-second 'Real Star of Australia' cinema ad, created by Marketforce in Australia, which will be shown before every screening of the film when it hits screens across the UK on Boxing Day.

Much of the epic film, starring Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman, and directed by Luhrmann was shot in WA's Kimberley region.

Last night Kidman and Jackman appeared in the cold on the red carpet at the London premiere of 'Australia', which is set in the Northern Territory in the 1940s and tells the story of an unlikely romance between an English aristocrat and a cattle drover.

Speaking before the premiere, Luhrmann, said: "I think there is a special relationship between Australia and England and actually my films were discovered here.

"Strictly Ballroom was discovered in London and it ran for 10 weeks at number one, it was so unexpected. And here I am back after all these years with this film. It feels good, it really does."

Oscar-winning actress Kidman wore a sparkly white dress, but pulled on a coat as she signed autographs for fans.

Kidman said: "I hope people like it and it makes them fall in love with my country. I hope they realise it's funny and romantic and it's a popcorn movie."

The key Kimberley film locations include the Cockburn Range, El Questro Wilderness Park, Purnululu National Park, Digger's Rest Station, Home Valley Station, the King George River and Falls and Carlton Hill Station, the location chosen as the home for Lady Sarah Ashley's mythical Faraway Downs Homestead.

The ad is being supported by a microsite, which provides an interactive map of all the filming locations, suggested itineraries and holiday offers as well as marketing and destination information for both the Kimberley region and the rest of Western Australia.

The campaign is part of Tourism Western Australia's aim to increase awareness of the experiences on offer in WA and encourage visitors to explore all corners of the state. Currently only 20% of visitors spend time outside of the state's capital, Perth.

Christie Lord, Tourism Western Australia's UK marketing manager, said: "When the film is released later this month, there is no doubt the eyes of the world will be on WA and the Kimberley, where the film was largely shot.

"This is a unique opportunity and we want to make sure that film-goers who are inspired to visit Australia know that it's actually WA's stunning landscapes and outback adventure they are moved by."

The campaign comes after the £86m epic disappointed many critics following its premiere in Sydney last month with some reviews saying it was just a tourism ad for the country, littered with cliches and exaggerated accents.

Jim Schembri, critic for the Melbourne Age described it as an "overlong melodramatic saga" and criticised Luhrmann for his eagerness to "trowel on the Aussie cliches" to appeal to tourist markets.