First snap: Kidman in new Baz flick
Source: The Daily Telegraph
THIS is the first picture of Nicole Kidman looking grand as cattle queen Lady Sarah Ashley in Baz Luhrmann's sweeping new $120 million epic Australia.
The Oscar-winning beauty, 39, plays an upper-crust English aristocrat who heads Down Under just before World War II to confront her skirt-chasing husband - only to find him dead.
This leaves her in control of a massive Northern Territory cattle station the size of Belgium.
Kidman joins a massive cast of top Aussie talent with Hugh Jackman, David Wenham, Bryan Brown, Jack Thompson, John Jarratt, David Gulpilil and Bill Hunter all hand-picked by Luhrmann.
Filming began in Sydney this week at the 150-year-old Strickland House in Vaucluse, which is doubling as Darwin's Government House.
Kidman and a bearded Jackman were earlier spotted brushing up on their riding skills in Centenntial Park. Riding is an essential part of the film - the pair fall in love as Jackman, playing a rough stockman, helps her drive 1500 cattle across the property.
Shooting takes place over five months with the production moving to the tiny North Queensland mango town of Bowen later this month.
The coastal community is now bustling with construction workers as more than eight town blocks are taken back in time.
Stockyards, shacks, old-fashioned cottages, shops and even a hotel have been erected at the oceanfront site.
A 93-year-old sugar cane locomotive called Homebush has even been enlisted to play a significant role in the flick. The loco started chugging around near Mackay in 1915 and was kept in mint condition by sugar company CSR.
Homebush will stay in Bowen until the end of next month - CSR even had to arrange for train tracks to be laid in the town's main street to complete the illusion.
But getting Bowen ready hasn't been all smooth sailing.
New Idea magazine made a classic blunder when it ran a photo purportedly of Bowen's main street with inset snaps of Kidman and Jackman.
Unfortunately the picture is of the main street of Roma - an inland Queensland town at least 1000km to the southwest. It also features a series of distinctive bottle trees, which can't even be found in Bowen.
Bowen Shire Mayor Mike Brunker was not amused.
"Of all the beautiful photos of Bowen they had to go and use one of Roma,'' he stormed. "(The photo) has even got bottle trees in it."