Fans waited for hours in the rain and traffic was brought to a standstill in central Sydney as Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman walked the red carpet for the world premiere of Australia on Tuesday night.

George Street in Sydney’s CBD was closed as 3000 invited guests strolled the carpet for the premiere of one of the most anticipated local films ever.

Thousands of fans gathered to catch a glimpse of Kidman, who dazzled in a short white beaded dress, posing for photographs and signed autographs.

The Academy award-winning star joined co-stars on the carpet including Hugh Jackman, Bryan Brown, David Wenham, 13-year-old Brandon Walters, Jack Thompson, director Baz Luhrmann and Catherine Martin.

They were supported by family and friends, including Jackman’s wife Deborra-Lee Furness and Kidman’s sister Antonia, her parents, and her husband, country singer Keith Urban.

Urban said the reception by the public was great.

“Gosh, they’ve shut the street down, it’s pretty amazing,” Urban said, adding Kidman was “anxious” to get back to their new baby Sunday Rose in the US.

Urban said he was “very proud” and loved watching her on screen.

While Kidman said filming kissing scenes with Jackman made it “good to go to work”, Urban said he wasn’t fazed by their love scenes.

“She’s a professional, you’ve got to let that all be professional,” he laughed.

“Hugh’s a good mate, so it’s all good.”

The entire cast and crew of the production were also invited to attend, as well as a mix of local personalities, including Olympians Ian Thorpe and Dawn Fraser, model Sarah Murdoch, designer Collette Dinnigan and musicians, among them The Veronicas and John Butler.

Politicians including federal opposition finance spokesman Joe Hockey and federal environment minister Peter Garrett also joined the broad mix.

Tight security surrounded the event, including bomb squad dogs and a large contingent of bodyguards.

The stars of the movie had waited until Tuesday night to see the finished film.

Jackman said it was his greatest role, while Kidman, who worked with Luhrmann on Moulin Rouge!, said it was the film she had always dreamed of making.

“I love working with Baz. Creatively, he is my soulmate,” Kidman said at a press call on Tuesday.

Walters, who plays half-caste Aboriginal orphan, stuck close to Jackman on the red carpet, and declared he was his favourite movie star.

Walters said he wasn’t quite used to the attention but was “excited” and looking forward to making more movies.

The A$130 million epic has the hopes of the nation’s film and tourism industries riding on it.

Kidman said she hoped all of Australia would celebrate its release. “This is a celebration for me and hopefully for this country,” Kidman said.

“It’s not meant to be the second coming. But it is meant to be: let’s have fun and enjoy it.”

Luhrmann said he had created the film for young and old, but it was now up to the audience to decide its fate.

“Not everyone is going to love it,” he said. “All you can do is do your best and invite everyone to the party. It’s time to get your party frock on.”

Australia follows the story of Lady Sarah Ashley, played by Nicole Kidman, who inherits a remote cattle station called Faraway Downs in the mid-1930s, before World War II.

When cattle barons plot to take her land, she reluctantly joins forces with a rough-hewn drover, played by Jackman, to drive thousands of cattle across the country, only to face the bombing of Darwin by Japanese forces.