Story

The story of Australia takes place in 1939, set against the background of World War II. It is told partly through the eyes of a young ‘half-caste’ Aboriginal boy, Nullah (Brandon Walters). At this time, Aboriginal people and women weren’t allowed to be served in the front bar of a pub. Also, Aboriginal children with white fathers were being taken from their mothers by bureaucrats who had decided that the Church could do a better job of bringing them up.

Nullah’s father, Neil Fletcher (David Wenham), is a cunning and underhand man. He is employed by Lord Ashley to manage the Lord's cattle station of Faraway Downs in the Northern Territory. When word of the station’s impending collapse reaches Lady Sarah Ashley (Nicole Kidman) in England, she decides to make the long journey to Australia to discover what her husband is up to. Many surprises await her on her arrival, not the least of which is the death of her husband. She also learns the truth about events at the station from young Nullah. Fletcher has been stealing her husband’s cattle and passing them on to the largest cattle station in the land, owned by Mr Carney (Brian Brown).

Sarah also finds she has to trust the Drover (Hugh Jackman), whom at first she detests, to help her drive the cattle to Darwin. With the help of a small crew including Kipling Flynn (Jack Thompson), an old drunk, they drive the cattle through inhospitable country to beat Carney to the post. On the way, Sarah and the drover fall in love, but there is a long and difficult journey ahead of them.

Themes

Racism; war

Violence

There is some violence in this movie, including the following scenes:

  • Lord Ashley is speared and falls dead into water above Nullah, who is hiding from the authorities.
  • A fight breaks out in a pub. It ends with the Drover breaking a suitcase over the head of another man.
  • Fletcher hits Nullah and his mother.
  • Sarah strikes Fletcher with a horsewhip.
  • Flynn is trampled to death by cattle.
  • Fletcher hits Carney over the head with a rifle. He falls into the water and is taken by a crocodile.
  • The bombing of Darwin includes many explosions and people being injured (although there is nothing too graphic).
  • The Drover’s brother-in-law is shot by the Japanese.
  • Fletcher shoots at Nullah.
  • Nullah’s grandfather, King George (David Gulpilil), spears Fletcher.

Content that may disturb children

Under 8

In addition to the violent scenes noted above, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under the age of eight, including the following:

  • Lord Ashley’s horse falls into the water.
  • Lord Ashley’s dead body is shown lying on a bed.
  • Nullah’s father, Fletcher, is cruel and indifferent to him and his mother.
  • Nullah and his mother, Daisy, hide in a rainwater tank that is filling up with water, and Daisy is drowned.
  • Nullah stands close to the edge of a cliff, facing stampeding cattle.
  • A kangaroo is shot.
  • A dead kangaroo is thrown over the roof of a car.
  • Many dead cattle are shown.
  • King George and Nullah display some mystic or spiritual powers, which could frighten some children.
  • Flynn is shown talking as he is dying – his face is puffed up and bloody.
  • The authorities separate Nullah from Sarah Ashley.
  • There are also intense war scenes.

From 8-13

Children in this age group may also be disturbed by some of the scenes mentioned above, particularly those in which Nullah is threatened and in danger, as well as some of the war scenes.

Over 13

Some children in this age group may also find some of the above-mentioned scenes upsetting.

Sexual references

None of concern

Alcohol, drugs and other substances

There is some use of substances in this movie, including frequent drinking of alcohol and smoking.

Nudity and sexual activity

There is some nudity and sexual activity in this movie, including:

  • a brief sex scene between Sarah and the Drover (no full nudity)
  • a man shown naked from behind.

Product placement

None of concern

Coarse language

This movie contains some mild coarse language.

Ideas to discuss with your children

Australia is an epic romantic adventure story. It contains a stellar cast of Australian actors and is set in some beautiful and dramatic landscapes.

The main messages from this movie are that we should correct the errors of the past and promote racial harmony.

Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:

  • respect for Aboriginal culture
  • tolerance and acceptance of others
  • courage and determination
  • strength of character.

This movie could also give parents the opportunity to discuss with their children attitudes and behaviours, and their real-life consequences, such as:

  • violence as a way of solving problems
  • racism.