Will film ‘Australia’ spur tourism Down Under?

This past Sunday — a cold, icy day here in Connecticut — I went and saw the new Baz Luhrmann epic “Australia.”

It was indeed epic, if a little convoluted in parts and downright weird in others. Overall, I’d say it was pretty good, and full of spectacular scenery of Australia’s rugged Northern Territory and the Kimberly region of Western Australia.

Tourism Australia is hoping the movie will mean a surge in visitors Down Under, and has launched a $26 million worldwide ad campaign based on the movie, says the Associated Press.

The state of Western Australia is spending $1.4 million of its own money on another ad campaign, and the Northern Territory is throwing in $400,000 from its own coffers.

While the movie is set in the Northern Territory, many locations from around Australia feature, including scenes shot near the Whitsunday Islands in the northeast. Closer to the film’s supposed location, there are generous shots of working cattle stations at El Questro and Home Valley, the sandstone escarpments of the Cockburn Range and the must-see Bungle Bungle Range of the Kimberly (pictured).

The AP reports that various tour operators have begun offering tours of the region.

It’s probably a little too early to tell whether the movie can create the kind of interest in a place that “Lord of the Rings” did for the south island of New Zealand. For one thing, Australia’s north is not, as a travel destination, for the faint of heart.