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Kununurra, Western Australia

Film Location of Luhrmann Epic

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Aboriginal stockmen mustering cattle at Kununurra in the Kimberley region of Western Australia

Aboriginal stockmen mustering cattle at Kununurra in the Kimberley region of Western Australia

© Tourism Western Australia

The Outback town of Kununurra in the Kimberley region of Western Australia lies close to the Northern Territory border and is closer to Darwin (825 kilometres), capital of the Northern Territory, than it is to Perth (3247 kilometres), capital of Western Australia.

But to those journeying north from Perth, the coastal route passes through a large number of Western Australia attractions including Monkey Mia, Shark Bay, Broome and Cable Beach, before heading into the Kimberleys.

Kununurra ("big water" in the local Aboriginal language) is a typical relatively unspoiled Outback town with grand scenic vistas right at its doorstep.

Natural attractions

Just outside town are the Ord River and Lake Argyle — created when the river was dammed — attracting thousands of species of native Australian birds and wildlife. Vividly colored red cliffs up to 150 metres high surround the lake.

Adjacent to Kununurra township is Mirima National Park, also known as Hidden Valley, with its many granite peaks affording broad views of the Kimberley landscape. Billions of years of natural mountain building have resulted in large rocks of red and black layers. In fact, the better known Purnululu National Park in the Bungle Bungles, usually described as the place to view large numbers of these alternately colored peaks, lies just south of Kununurra.

A few kilometres west of Kununurra is the small canyon known as The Grotto, a place of many waterfalls and a natural swimming hole at the bottom.

Epic location

In early November 2006, it was confirmed that scenes from a Baz Luhrmann Outback epic would be filmed in early 2007 on pastoral land near Kununurra. The Western Australia government was reported to have chipped in A$500,000 to the project.

The film, Australia, stars Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman and covers a time before and up to the bombing of Darwin in World War II.

  • Regarding the film's title, Luhrmann was quoted in the Sydney Morning Herald on November 23, 2006, as saying: "I'm taking the perspective of the rest of the world to this film — how they might view Australia. When you say Casablanca or Oklahoma! it means big, it means vast... I'm not saying this film is Australia. It's a metaphor for a state of mind, for the faraway in the 30s."

A major cattle drive and early movie episodes were filmed on location near Kununurra.

Getting there

Kununurra is on Australia's Highway One and can be reached following the highway from Darwin or Perth.

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