Australia

A while back I received an e-mail from Ursula. She wrote:

Greetings Susan, I’ve enjoyed your blog for years!  Would you consider doing a movie house tour of the Queenslander Nicole Kidman inherits in the film, Australia?  I would love to see more detail and learn more about it.  Thank you. Kindest regards.

Ursula, thanks so much for the suggestion because both the movie and the Queenslander home, Faraway Downs, were awesome!

Australia Featuring Hugh Jackman, Nicole Kidman

 

(Click Ctrl+ to enlarge the pictures a bit and then Ctrl 0 (zero) when finished.)

The 2008 movie, Australia, directed by Baz Luhrmann, was filmed in Australia in multiple locations including The Kimberly, Bowen and Darwin. Faraway Downs, the home that played such a big part in the movie, was built in Kununurra. A set built for the interior scenes was constructed in Sydney.

Rundown Faraway Downs in Movie, Australia

 

Kununurra is a hot dusty town in far northern Western Australia, a remote area where the nearest town (Wyndham) is 62 miles away.

Map of Australia Kununurra

Source: Wikipedia

 

Instead of building Faraway Downs on location, it was prefabricated in Sydney, then transported to Western Australia in semi trailers where it was built by a crew of forty workers. The picture below really gives you an idea of just how remote a location was chosen for this home that plays such an important character in the movie.  The home was constructed at the foot of a large hill known as House Roof Hill. You’ll be able to see House Roof Hill a bit better later in this post.

Faraway Downs Located in Kununurra, Western Australia

 

This movie takes place in 1939, just before World War II. Nicole Kidman plays Lady Sarah Ashley, a young English aristocrat who decides to take a trip to Australia where her philandering husband is currently overseeing their ranch, Faraway Downs. She’s determined to convince him to sell the property and come back home.

Her husband sends a cattle drover, played by Hugh Jackman (he’s divine in this movie!) to pick her up and to transport her to Faraway Downs. In the movie Hugh Jackman’s character actually goes by the name, Drover. I had never heard the word drover but per Wikipedia:

A drover in Australia is a person, who moves livestock, usually sheep, cattle and horses “on the hoof” over long distances. Reasons for droving may include: delivering animals to a new owner’s property, taking animals to market, or moving animals during a drought in search of better feed and/or water.

The ride to the ranch is wild and crazy and it’s a true fish-out-of-water adventure if ever there was one. When Lady Ashley first arrives, she is elegantly dressed to the nines but by the time she arrives at the ranch, she’s a sweaty, dusty mess.

Nicole Kidman as Lady Sarah Ashley

 

As Lady Ashley (Sarah) arrives we get our first real look at the rundown Faraway Downs. The front gate is in pitiful shape.

Faraway Downs Gate in movie, Australia

 

The house is not much better with a sagging front porch roof, broken, falling-down, matchstick porch shades and an exterior that’s badly in need of a good painting.

Rundown Faraway Downs in Movie, Australia

 

There’s House Roof Hill in the background…such a great name for a hill! You can read more about how this specific location in Kununurra was chosen for the movie here: BVisual Media

Faraway Downs in Australia

 

As Lady Sarah enters the front door for the first time, we see the name “Faraway Downs” in the stained glass panel in the front door. Even through all the neglect, we see signs of the beauty and romance of this wonderful home.

Nicole Kidman in Australia

 

The first room we really see inside Faraway Downs is the dining room. Ignoring Drover’s (Hugh Jackman’s) order to wait in the truck, Sarah (Nicole Kidman) rushes headlong into the house to shockingly find her husband on the dining room table and obviously very dead.

Dining Room Scene in Australia

 

In the first part of  the movie, Faraway Downs feels very dark, brooding and little scary. This parallels the goings-on in the house and on the ranch perfectly.

Dining Room, Faraway Downs, Australia Movie

 

Despite the danger and dark atmosphere surrounding the beginning of the movie, you can see that Faraway Downs was once a beautiful, vibrant home. It’s dusty and run down now, but it’s obvious someone at some point, cared very much for the home and took great care to decorate the walls and to furnish the home with beautiful furniture. It’s also obvious that Faraway Downs has fallen on hard times.

Lady Sarah Ashley (Nicole Kidman) Bedroom in Australia

 

Despite all the dust and spookiness, the bedroom Sarah sleeps in her first night at Faraway Downs is beautiful.

Lady Ashley's Bedroom in Australia Movie

 

 

Another main character, Nullah (played by Brandon Walters) suddenly appears in Sarah’s room during this scene.

Nullah in movie, Australia

 

One last view of Sarah’s bedroom at Faraway Downs

Faraway Downs Bedroom, Australia Movie with Nicole Kidman

 

Another room we see in the early part of the movie is the room where Faraway Down’s heavy-drinking, accountant,  Kipling Flynn (played by Jack Thompson) sleeps and works.

Kipling Flynn's (Jack Thompson) Room in Movie, Australia

 

Again it’s filled with beautiful furniture, antiques to us but would have been current furnishing for the period the movie was made.

Kipling Flynn's Room in Australia Movie

 

The other side of the room…

Australia-with-Nicole-Kidman-and-Hugh-Jackman

 

Throughout the early part of the movie, the woven matchstick shades on the front porch are always down. They are torn and damaged very badly, emphasizing the poor condition of Faraway Downs.

Matchstick Shades in Movie, Australia

 

Another view showing the dirty and dilapidated condition of Faraway Downs.

Faraway Downs in Australia with Hugh Jackman & Nicole Kidman

 

During the filming, rare rains came to the area. It caused tremendous flooding and the cast had to abandon filming the outdoor scenes to flee to Sydney where they worked on the interior scenes that were filmed on a set.

Faraway Down, Kununurra, Flooded During Making of Australia

Source: smh.com.au

 

As with most movies, there’s an evil antagonist in Australia. Actually there are a few in this movie but the main one is Neil Fletcher played by David Wenham. He’s the manager of Faraway Downs until he accidentally reveals his true colors and gets fired by Lady Sarah. He is genuinely evil, taking the lives of several folks in the course of the movie.

Eventually, a plan is hatched to save Faraway Downs and Lady Sarah convinces Drover to help her. During their adventure of driving the cattle all the way to Darwin to be sold, they begin to fall in love. After the cattle are sold, Lady Sarah and Drover return to Faraway Downs where they are able to repair the home and make it beautiful once again.

Everything is lightened and brightened with a fresh coat of whitewash.

Faraway Downs in Movie, Australia with Nicole Kidman, Hugh Jackman

 

Doesn’t it look a million times better! The rains come and Lady Sarah is able to create beautiful gardens for her Queenslander home. I did a little research and discovered that Queenslander homes are usually timber construction and are either one or two stories. Often they are raised like Faraway Downs to help with ventilation. It gets super hot in this area of Australia with temperatures reaching 109-110.

Faraway Downs in Australia, Movie with Nicole Kidman & Hugh Jackman

Photo Credit: Douglas Kirkland

 

In fact, both Hugh Jackman and Nicole Kidman fainted during the making of the movie while sitting atop horses. Hugh Jackman passed out the very first day of filming when he had on a wool shirt and had to sit on a horse for over two hours while they solved some other filming issue. Someone noticed he was beginning to lean and they got him off the horse before he fell off.

Same thing happened to Nicole Kidman later in the making of the movie. She had just found out she was expecting when filming first started for the movie. One day when the temps were up around 109, she fainted while sitting on her horse. Fortunately, the handler for the horse caught her.

Faraway Down, Kununurra, Western Australia

 

The raised design of a Queenslander home also helps keep critters out of the house (especially termites) and helps avoid flooding problems during times of heavy rain.

Australia, Faraway Downs, in Kununurra, Western Australia

 

Did you notice all the beautiful gardens around Faraway Downs, such a contrast from how it looked at the start of the movie. Those were designed by set designer, Catherine Martin.

Garden Plan for Faraway Downs in Australia Movie

Photo Source: Flower Magazine via Pith+Vigor

 

Remember the fake tree in the movie, The Holiday? Well, some of the landscaping is faux in this movie, too…like this Baob tree. Yep, totally fake.

Baob Tree in Australia Movie

 

It has leaves later on in the movie.

Australia Movie Dining Outside Scene

 

Another view of this Queenslander cottage from a different angle. Since the home was only a faux exterior built just for the movie, I’m guessing it was torn down once the movie was finished.

Australia's Faraway Downs

 

The ratty, old matchstick shades are gone. How do you like this style house? It reminds me of the raised cottages we have along the coastal areas here in the south.

Faraway Downs Porch in Australia Movie with Hugh Jackman, Nicole Kidman

 

I love the design of the porch, it even has lattice doors. Doors for a porch!

Doors to Porch, Faraway Downs in Movie, Australia

 

Now that Faraway Downs has been painted and brightened, we can see the interior a bit better. The entry has a lovely bamboo hall tree just inside the front door.

Entrance Hall of Faraway Downs, Australia Movie

 

I love the beautiful stained glass in the sidelights and the door.

Stain Glass Windows, Faraway Downs, Australia

 

Another view of the hallway from the other end. Wonder what that tall thing is on the right.

Faraway Downs Center Hall in Australia

 

Sarah steps into the living room of Faraway Downs to find she has a disturbing visitor.

Faraway Downs Living Room in Movie, Australia

 

The evil Neil Fletcher has stopped by to scare her and make her life miserable. He’s good at that!

Australia's Faraway Downs in Kununurra, Australia

 

We get a good view of the dining room in this scene.

Faraway Downs Dining Room in Movie, Australia

 

I think there are two sets of the white birds in the movie. I noticed them in the dining room and again on this piece that I think is in the living room.

Dining Room, Faraway Downs House in Australia Movie

 

Notice the beautiful old desk on the left.

Faraway Downs, Australia Movie, Dining Room

 

Another view looking into adjoining rooms.

Faraway Downs House in Australia Movie

 

Lady Sarah’s bedroom looks much brighter and less scary after the restoration.

Lady Ashley's (Kidman) Bedroom in Movie, Australia

 

These are the only interior rooms we see after Faraway Downs is brought back to life.

Lady Sarah Ashley's (Nicole Kidman) Bedroom in Movie, Australia

 

Love this evening view of Faraway Downs against a blue hour sky. Did you see the movie, Australia, when it was in the theater? How did you like the house on the big screen?

Faraway Downs Restored in Movie, Australia

 

I really like a Queenslander style home. Here’s a picture of another one I found at Wikipedia. They have so much personality, don’t they? I love how the porches have doors!

Queenslander Style Home

Source: Wikipedia

 

Thanks to Ursula for suggesting I check out this wonderful movie house. I always love hearing your movie suggestions. Movie house posts take a while to create, but they are always some of my favorite posts to look back on later.

Faraway Downs in Australia, Movie with Nicole Kidman & Hugh Jackman

Photo Credit: Douglas Kirkland

 

Movies transport us to another world, sometimes literally! I learned so much about Australia researching information for this post. I would love to see it in person one day, just maybe not when it’s 109 degrees outside!

Hope you enjoyed this movie house tour of Faraway Downs from the movie, Australia. You’ll find additional tours of all your favorite movie houses under the category Movie Houses at the top of the blog, or click here: Movie House Tours.

Check out the category, More TV & Movie Houseswhere you may find me hiding out under a cabinet, ala Randy in A Christmas Story. 🙂

Have a wonderful weekend, see you on Monday for Metamorphosis Monday!




 Never miss a Between Naps on the Porch post! 

*Subscribe to have updates delivered to your Inbox. 



Comments

  1. Good post, even though I never saw the movie, this makes me want to. This past week our local theater group announced they will be staging A Christmas Story. I always think of that visual of you in that cute picture, among other scenes, when I hear that movie title. 🙂

  2. Linda Page says:

    You are an evil woman! Now I have to get this movie and watch it. But then, any excuse to watch Hugh Jackman, right??? This house looks amazing. I love the design. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Sherry Stuifbergen says:

    I enjoyed this very much. I have never seen the movie “Australia.” I am a fan of Nicole Kidman. I will have to check it out sometime. Thank you for posting this. I enjoy ALL your tours of movie sets, pretty homes. Love it. Sherry

  4. Donna Bridges says:

    Hi ,Queenslanders have screened porches with doors as people sleep on them in the hottest part of the year .The doors give some security and they stop snakes . I live in South Australia and we have mainly old Federation houses big return verandahs and symmetrical houses with a wide central hallway . I would love a Queenslander but still our home is lovely too it’s a cottage.

    • Ahhh, that makes sense. Thanks for explaining that. It’s kind of like our sleeping porches here in the south, except they are usually on the second floor so they don’t have a door. Australia sounds like it has some beautiful homes!

  5. Jill Werschin says:

    I remember watching this movie. I love movies that take place in Australia. You did such a wonderful job with this post. It was like I was actually there. Now that I know some of the background, I’m going to watch it again! thanks…

  6. crumpety cottage says:

    Susan,

    What a beautiful fake home! Haha. I love the style and now want to see the movie so I can see the house and furnishings up close. I do feel a bit trepidatious thanks to that terrible Neil Fletcher. (Why do movie makers always think there must be an evil character? Grrr.) Still, I’m glad to have a movie recommendation because there are so few worth watching these days and I love the art. Thanks to Ursula for suggesting you do this post!

  7. Supposed to rain later – day 15 – so may have to watch this! Thank you for the suggestion – I love your movie house posts.

    • crumpety cottage says:

      Oh my goodness, Michele! Where do you live? If it rained that much where I live, I’d bury myself in cozy projects, books and movies, lol. (Maybe I’d finally get some things done.)

  8. I saw this movie when it came out and recently on television. I think I have seen most of Nicole Kidman’s movies. I loved the house, the style is so unique to that country, but what is it with the long sleeves? That must have been brutal for the actors.

    I loved the book “The Thorn Birds,” which gave a good depiction of the Australian landscape.

  9. I saw this movie when it came out and recently on television. I think I have seen most of Nicole Kidman’s movies. I loved the house. The style is so unique to that country, but what is it with the long sleeves? That must have been brutal for the actors.

    I loved the book “The Thorn Birds,” which gave a good depiction of the Australian landscape.

    • I wonder if the long sleeves help keep the sun off. There’s a garden shop I visit about 30 minutes from my home and all the employees there where long sleeves, but their shirts are this special fabric that’s very breathable. I asked her about the long sleeves and she said it’s to keep from getting too much sun (skin cancer) and that they actually stay cooler since it keeps the sun off their skin. I remember googling the name brand of the shirts when I got back home and they were super expensive!

  10. Sherry Stuifbergen says:

    Hello again, I was wondering if the movie “Australia” is based on a book? I would love to “read” this book if movie is based on a book…as well as see the movie too. Just wondering if you knew…..Sherry

    • Sherry, at the site IMDb.com, someone asked that same question and they answered this way: “No, Australia is based on a screenplay by Australian writers Stuart Beattie and Baz Luhrmann (who also directed the movie) and South African-born screenwriter Ronald Harwood.” So, unfortunately it doesn’t look like there’s a book. I always prefer to read books before seeing a movie, too. It seems the book is always better than the movie, or at least it usually is to me. Here’s the trailer on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mfI4hK9I2k0

  11. Thanks for the tour!! I saw this movie when it first came out, it was wonderful on the big screen!! Watched it again on tv. Love that big house, and the long sleeve thing makes sense.

    I loved the movie, could watch it again and again…….so, never understood why it didn’t make it as a big time movie??

  12. Hi, its me again……just remembered the other movie series that was shot in Australia years ago……The Man from Snowy River……made for TV, I think there were 2 or 3 episodes. It was breathtaking……and they hired actual drovers for the horse scenes, I think they called them ‘whips’ or something similar. When you read the credits and see the names of the ‘cowboys’, many have the same last names, so you knew they were brothers, fathers, uncles, cousins, etc………ranching and herding is a family affair!! And could they ride!! Maybe you could find out about the movies. The big house was very ornate, and the scenery was out of this world…….

    • I would love to see that! I know they have to be amazing on a horse to do that kind of work. Can’t even imagine!
      Did you ever see that funny commercial about herding cats. Don’t know why that popped into my head but if you haven’t seen it, check it out here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pk7yqlTMvp8
      This one is a little clearer version but you have to watch 4 seconds of a commercial: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m_MaJDK3VNE
      Hysterical!

      • crumpety cottage says:

        Susan, that was hilarious! I have never seen that commercial. And the guys in it were perfect. Thanks for sharing that. Cat herders … lol.

        • lol It never gets old…makes me laugh every time! 🙂 Did you notice the guy with the lint roller? I also love it when it shows them trying to reach the cats on the tree limb. lol

          • pam ~ crumpety cottage says:

            Yes, I did. And the guy winding the big ball of yarn, lol. The actors did such a good job. Very fun and clever idea. I have no idea who or what EDS is, but at least they have a funny commercial. 😀

  13. Marlene Stephenson says:

    I have never heard of it but, it sounds wonderful and i love that house. Thanks so much, I am always looking for a good movie to watch.

  14. Sandy Park says:

    This is an absolutely wonderful movie. Not only the house and the storyline but the history is reveals. Love this house. Thanks for sharing.

  15. Something about an old screen door that speaks to the southern girl in me. Anyone else want a cold tall glass of sweet tea? Or lemonade?

  16. Thanks for a great tour … being an Aussie I have such a soft spot for the old “Queenslander” homes. I’m not 100% sure but my guess for the tall thing in the hallway (the one Hugh is walking down) is a traditional Aboriginal fishing trap http://gallery.aboriginalartdirectory.com/aboriginal-art/fish-traps.php

  17. pam ~ crumpety cottage says:

    Sure looks like it to me, Jane. On a side note, I was reading today that Australia is offering some sort of deal to rich Americans who will invest in the country. I didn’t read the whole article, so I may be off on this, but I think they were offering them Australian citizenship for an investment of 5 million dollars. Apparently they had extended a similar offer to the Chinese, many of whom have been taking advantage of it. Never heard of such a thing.

  18. thank you so much for doing all this investigative work! i’m thrilled to get to see more stills, the rooms kind of whiz by in the film. queenslanders are kind of an “original green” style of architecture in that they are designed to shelter from the sun before the days of fuel consumption and air conditioning. i know the central hall functions a lot like a dogtrot in southern homes, letting breezes pass through the house to naturally cool it, and the stilts function the same way (besides raising the house during flash floods). the deep porches keep the sun off the walls, high ceilings allow the heat to rise and often there was a heat chimney or cupola to let the heat escape…same with transoms and tall windows, letting the heat escape, and be pushed out by big slow fans. we moved to south carolina from washington state and are still building our place trying to utilize some of these features. there is a movement called the new urbanist movement, or the new traditionalist movement that is bringing these features back,not only making homes less reliant on fading/expensive fossil fuels but making them more beautiful again. a queenslander is very similar in style to some of the southern regionalist styles that are influenced by the islands/indies/creole. i really love getting to see so much of this house, it’s one of the most beautiful examples i’ve seen and it’s so inspirational! thank you again for all your research. cheers, ursula

    • pam ~ crumpety cottage says:

      Wow, you are a fount of information, Ursula. Very interesting. Thanks! I also checked out your artwork, Ursula. You are quite a talented artist. 🙂

      • thank you! we’re working on canvas tote bags and pillows…i would love to do more home decor products. just finished some sea life artwork in addition to the dog breed art. thank you for looking 🙂

I'd love to hear from you! Please leave a comment!

*