Angelina Jolie has landed in Sydney with her six children - but there was no sign of her fiance, Brad Pitt.

The 38-year-old actress and her children Maddox, Zahara, Pax, Shiloh, Vivienne and Knox landed in Sydney on Friday shortly after 6am on Qantas flight QF12 from Los Angeles.

She waved to photographers before leaving the airport in a white van with blacked-out windows.

Jolie looked stylish but casual in loose black trousers, black top and aviator sunglasses. Her second oldest child Pax carried a purple bear.

The US actress is expected to spend three months in Australia directing the film Unbroken.

The film, written by the Oscar-winning Coen Brothers, is about Olympic runner Louis Zamperini, who became a POW during the Second World War.

Jolie made a whirlwind trip to Sydney in August, apparently to scout locations for Unbroken.

Fairfax is reporting the actress, who is making the film for Hollywood studio Universal Pictures, will shoot scenes in Fox Studios in Sydney and in studios on the Gold Coast.

On Thursday, the film academy in Los Angeles announced that Jolie was to receive The Hersholt Award, an honorary Oscar presented periodically to a film industry member for exemplary humanitarian work.

Jolie, who was nominated for her leading performance in 2008's Changeling and won the award for her supporting role in 1999's Girl, Interrupted, serves as a special envoy for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

She will receive the award at an untelevised ceremony in November.