Australia's hoteliers are united in the hope that Baz Luhrmann's Australia a $130 million epic starring Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman will do for them what Lord of the Rings did for their New Zealand counterparts: inspire a surge in tourism. Those hopes must be more fervent than ever now that the global economic slowdown is beginning to really bite.
There will be no shortage of luxury accommodation to cater to travelers, should the spike in visitors actually materialize and properties in the Outback, where much of the film is set, are particularly hoping to cash in on the movie buzz. One of them is the stunning Home Valley Station, www.homevalley.com.au, where a dramatic cattle-driving sequence in Australia was filmed.
Sprawling over 700,000 acres (283,000 hectares) and lying at the foot of Western Australia's Cockburn Range, Home Valley will fully meet the expectations of moviegoers who want to buy into Luhrmann's Outback fantasy. It's a working cattle station, but guests can stay in stylish air-conditioned cabins, semi-permanent tents or homestead guest rooms. Local produce features at the Dusty Bar & Grill, where evening meals are accompanied by the sound of a didgeridoo floating over from the campfire.
Activities are as rugged as you would expect: you can ride, muster cattle, learn how to throw a boomerang and pass crocodiles as you canoe up Bindoola Creek. But it isn't cheap. The Bindoola Experience package which includes Cessna transfer from Kununurra (the nearest domestic airport), three nights' accommodation plus a range of activities is priced at $1,900. If that seems pricey, you could just pitch a tent Home Valley offers sites at $15 a head and pay for everything else on top. The campsites aren't a patch on the designer accommodation, but Hugh Jackman's macho cattleman character would doubtless approve.