Filming started today in Sydney on the long-planned romantic action adventure Australia , Baz Luhrmann's fourth film and his third with 20th Century Fox.

The cast is headed by Nicole Kidman, as English aristocrat Lady Sarah Ashley, and Hugh Jackman, the rough hewn cattle-drover who initially repulses her, then catches her eye. The film is set just prior to World War II and opens with Kidman unexpectedly finding herself the owner of a cattle station the size of Belgium.

The rest of the cast list reads like a who's who of veteran Australian male acting talent, including Bryan Brown, Jack Thompson, Bill Hunter, Ray Barrett, David Wenham, John Jarrett and Barry Otto. Australia is set in the cattle industry, which employs many indigenous stockmen, and some of the country's best known indigenous actors are also involved including Crusoe Kurdall, Jamie and David Gulpilil and David Ngoombujarra.

An 11-year-old novice, Brandon Walters, has also been recruited as a boy who steals Ashley's heart.

The vast, unforgiving but breathtaking landscapes of northern Australia will serve to heighten the drama in Australia , which will be filmed over five months in four states. Locations include Bowen, Kununurra, Darwin and Sydney.

Producing alongside Luhrmann is G Mac Brown and Catherine Knapman. The cinematographer is Mandy Walker and Catherine Martin is production and costume designer.