The producers behind Jocelyn Moorhouse's Eucalyptus, which was to have gone into production this year,are gearing down because they have not been able to find an Australian leadinglady to star alongside Russell Crowe and Geoffrey Rush.

They say Crowe and Fox Searchlight, which is fully financingthe film, remain very supportive of the project and they are confident ofresuming early next year.

Moorhouse, who wrote the script with Michelle Joyner, isdirecting the adaptation of the much-admired book of the same name byAustralian author Murray Bail.

In the story, a widower decides that his much-loved daughtermay only marry a man who can correctly name the variety of each of the hundredsof much-loved gum trees that he has planted on his property. Crowe plays thestory-telling suitor that attracts daughter Ellen's eye and Rush playsher father.

The originating producer is UK-based Uberto Pasolini and heis working with Lynda House, who produced Moorhouse's 1991 debut film Proofunder the House and Moorhouse's ownproduction company. Proof UnderThe House also starred Crowe but longbefore he was internationally famous.

House and Moorhouse went on to produce Muriel'sWedding in 1994, which remains one of thetop 10 biggest local hits of all time.

Eucalyptus is likelyto be shot in the picturesque mid-north coast of New South Wales.