I adore Baz Luhrman. I've never seen Strictly Ballroom, and I hated Romeo and Juliet when I first saw it (mostly because my highshool love claimed Romeo reminded her of some other guy, then dumped me for him) but Moulin Rouge won me over. It took the laws of successful filmmaking and turned them on their head.
He spent the first decade of his career making and following the rules for a new genre. Some may hate his style (the over acting, complete disregard for realism, obsession with stylized forms of communication such as dancing and singing, and silly humor). If this is you, Australia won't win you over. It's definatly a step back from the surreal vision of his previous films, but many of his flamboyant elements are still here.
The first twenty minutes feature his signature "fast forward" shots and loads of silly slapstick humor. The characters and general feel of this movie are culled directly from Hollywood epics of the 1940s and 50s. This is "Gone With the Wind" on crack.
Jackman and Kidman are enjoyable as always, but the real star is Brandon Walters as Nullah, the aboriginal "half breed" or "creamy." This twelve-year-old boy with no film history on IMDB not only carries the film with his mexmerizing performance, he also narrates the film. Which, considering 90% of fiolm narration is terrible, it's amazing that Brandon actually adds such an air of mystery and magic with his narration. He really is the entire film, and the fact no one is buzzing over his performance in the States is a travesty.
Australia isn't for everyone, and it's not without it's flaws. To contain the epic story, some of the best scenes are glossed over in montage. It makes me wonder if there is a four hour director's cut on Baz Luhrman's Mac that has a much better narrative flow.
Also be aware, if you see this flick, that it's a 1940s film to its core. The dialog is hokey, the romance over the top, and the action totally ridiculous. It revels in sugary emotions, and in my opinion, succeeds in its mission of bring pure, fluffy joy to cinemas.