By Lucy Manly
It is undoubtedly the hottest ticket in Byron Bay to score an invite to Chris Hemsworth and wife Elsa Pataky's annual New Year's Eve party. Since relocating to the Northern Rivers coastal town in 2014, the celebrity couple has hosted themed soirees to ring in the new year.
The theme for this year's soiree was Space Pirate, with guests dressed in elaborate costumes clad with water pistols and toy swords as they arrived at brother Liam Hemsworth's $6.5 million property in the Newrybar hinterland.
DJ Fisher and wife Chloe Chapman, jet tycoon Paul O'Brien, Liam's girlfriend Gabriella Brooks and a throng of Swedish models were on the coveted guest list. In previous years international stars Miley Cyrus, Matt Damon and wife Luciana Barroso have enjoyed the Hemsworth-Pataky hospitality on NYE.
However, Byron Bay's famous new resident Zac Efron and girlfriend Vanessa Valladares were missing in action at Friday's shindig. Photos from the party shared on social media revealed free-flowing alcohol, DJ Blondie on the decks, and a 2020 sign going up in flames as the clock struck midnight.
The famed party continued to go ahead despite warnings to Byron Bay locals and holidaymakers that COVID-19 protocols set out by the NSW government must be observed.
In Sydney, it was a far tamer affair with many venues cancelling events and homes restricted to no more than five guests. However, Barangaroo's Crown precinct hosted actor Tim Robards and wife Anna Heinrich, as well as PR queen Roxy Jacenko and besties Jessica Ingham and Laura Hazzouri at Nobu restaurant. Meanwhile, love-birds Pip Edwards and Michael Clarke enjoyed a celebratory lunch at Icebergs Dining Room on New Year's Day.
Jen and Jake flee COVID-riddled northern beaches
Just days before Christmas, Sydney's northern beaches was forced into strict lockdown in order to contain the growing number of COVID-19 cases growing in the area.
Since selling their Newport home to Atlassian co-founder Mike Cannon-Brookes and wife Annie, model Jennifer Hawkins and husband Jake Wall have been living in a $1969-a-night property in Bilgola Plateau. Emerald City was told the notoriously private couple made an escape to Forresters Beach on the Central Coast on December 19, one day after the lockdown came into effect.
But that is not true, according to a spokesperson for Hawkins, who says his client left the area prior to the government-enforced stay-at-home lockdown measures were put in place.
"They left a day before the lockdown was enforced - it was purely a coincidence," the spokesperson said.
At any rate, the couple should remain isolated wherever they are, as if they were still on the northern beaches, according to the rules.
The couple will eventually return to the beaches where they have to kickstart renovations to their new Whale Beach ocean-front estate known as Villa Rocca Bella, once owned by the late Dame Joan Sutherland, which they bought for $6.95 million.
Baby (name) bust-up
Celebrities have a knack for bestowing unique and often bizarre names to their offspring and Australian model Jessica Hart is no exception, naming her newborn daughter "Baby".
Hart, 34, and her NASCAR driver fiance James Kirkham opened up to People magazine about the inspiration behind their daughter's unique moniker. "I first heard [the name] in the movie Dirty Dancing and always thought I'd love to name my daughter Baby," Hart told the entertainment rag.
However, friends close to the Victoria's Secret model say her daughter's name was not a long-time dream. In fact, it has caused a rift in her friendship with close friend Sasha Benz, who named her daughter "Baybi" first.
"Sasha was devastated that her close friend would copy her daughter's 'unique' name, especially after she'd gone to her for name ideas," a mutual friend told Emerald City.
According to the friend, Benz was blindsided when a week before Hart gave birth she told Sasha: "We are calling her Baby, but don't worry - it's spelt differently!" The friend added the pair have hardly spoken since.
Hart and Kirkham welcomed their daughter on November 1, having announced her pregnancy news via Instagram on September 4, with a selfie holding the positive pregnancy test.
Lucy Manly is a reporter and gossip columnist for The Sydney Morning Herald and Sun-Herald.