How Byron Bay has become Australia’s new celebrity hot spot

How Byron Bay has become Australia’s new celebrity hot spot

Call it the Hemsworth ­effect.

Once the carefree summer playground for stars like Elle Macpherson, Nicole Kidman and Mick Jagger, Palm Beach is losing its Hollywood glow as Byron Bay — formerly a hippy hangout 780km away on the far NSW north coast — takes over as the new Australian celebrity hot spot.

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Hollywood hunk Chris Hemsworth and his glamorous wife Elsa Pataky have been joined by A-list pals such as Matt Damon and Miley Cyrus, wife of Hemsworth’s equally-famous brother, Liam, as regular visitors to Byron.

Chris and Elsa have had local tongues wagging for months over plans for their $9 million compound in the Byron hinterland.

Thanks to the Hemsworth effect, Byron Bay has become the place to go for pap photographers and others into celebrity watching.

And some celebs in Byron are actually from Palmy.

Musician Angus Stone, of the acclaimed duo Angus and Julia Stone, grew up in the suburb next to Palm Beach but now lives on an estate near Byron.

Top netballer Liz Ellis also lived on the northern beaches, but has bought just outside Byron Bay.

Other big names that now call Byron home — or at least a permanent holiday spot for some of the year — are Carrie Bickmore, model Gemma Ward, tennis star Pat Rafter and footballer Tim Cahill.

Actors Naomi Watts and Margot Robbie are both regular visitors, often seen frolicking on Byron Beach.

Agent Liam Annesley, of LJ Hooker Byron Bay, said the laid-back festival town was loved by Paul Hogan and the Packer family in the 1980s and then it fell into relative obscurity until Chris and Liam Hemsworth bought into the area.

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“Now Chris Hemsworth has brought in his friends and Miley Cyrus has brought in her friends and the Ballina airport is only 20 minutes away,” he said.

Plus the celebs have their own helicopters and can fly in an out of their large rural properties, something that is not so easy in Palm Beach.

Mr Anneseley is selling the $14 million home of Peter Mattick, the co-founder of Salmat. He is getting interest from young expats for the beachside property.

Meanwhile, back in Palm Beach the last young celebrity to buy into the suburb was probably Lleyton Hewitt, who sold up in 2014 for $4.63 million. Model Megan Gale got out in 2016, selling for $3 million, and actor Rachel Griffiths moved out in 2015, having sold for more than $2.2 million.

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