Hollywood A-listers are flying the coop in search of a new celebrity hotspot, and they have their sights set on this small, Aussie seaside town.
Poor COVID-19 conditions and a crippled film industry have seen more and more celebrities swapping Beverly Hills for beautiful beaches, as Byron Bay becomes the new Tinseltown.
Nicole Kidman is the latest celeb eager to breathe life into the hippie town, with her new project bringing a big budget of $100 million.
“I am thrilled we are able to make Nine Perfect Strangers in Australia,” Kidman told The Sunday Telegraph.
“It is a great opportunity for me to give back to the community that nurtured me through so much of my career.”
Long-time resident and Ray White agent Michael Gudgeon, who has been in the industry for two decades, believes the climate and the laidback attitude of residents is what draws celebrities to the idyllic town.
“It’s a culmination of the natural beauty of the property, it’s our climate, and also its the culture of the area as well – it’s a good bunch of people that live here,” Mr Gudgeon said.
“To a certain degree, people haven’t been too fussed about where you come from. A lot of locals don’t fawn over the famous people who live here. They just let them be themselves and get on with their lives.”
Filming for the Nine Perfect Strangers TV series, which is based on Big Little Lies author Liane Moriarty’s book, is set to start on August 10.
The NSW government has approved production at Kidman’s Southern Highlands property following a strict 14-day quarantine, with the Oscar winner shouldering the medical and security costs for cast and crew.
Nine Perfect Strangers will also see industry heavyweights Luke Evans, Melissa McCarthy and Melvin Gregg join Aussie favourites Asher Keddie and Samara Weaving.
Along with its year-round summer climate and stunning scenery, Byron Bay became a fixture in Aussie travel guides thanks to a “facelift” by none other than The Paul Hogan Show’s ‘Strop’.
“In the early ’90s we had John Cornell renovate The Beach Hotel and that kind of changed the vibe of Byron Bay quite significantly, and gave it a bit of a facelift,” Mr Gudgeon said.
“It’s become quite a hub of really quite creative people doing great stuff on a lot of different levels.”
But it’s not just Kidman and her team holing up in the picturesque coastal town.
Byron Bay has become home to none other than High School Musical hunk Zac Efron, who has been hiding out there since the start of the pandemic.
The 32-year-old has been the subject of speculation, whispers and star sightings in the sleepy town until he was finally photographed at Byron Bay General Store.
Efron’s latest travel docu-series, Down to Earth, seems to confirm his intentions to move, confessing he has to “get out of Hollywood” as the environment is “not conducive” to a “long, happy, mentally sound life”.
NEW Zac Efron, Chris Hemsworth's friend, is at his home in Byron Bay spending time away from the COVID-19 pandemic pic.twitter.com/OripUY4xdy
— best of chems (@hemsbest) July 3, 2020
While they haven’t been pictured together yet, Efron is rumoured to be hanging out with long-time Byron residents the Hemsworths.
Chris, 36, and his 44-year-old wife, Elsa Pataky, have lived in a $20 million mansion in Byron since 2014.
Younger Hemsworth brother Chris, 30, made the sea change following his highly publicised split from wife Miley Cyrus in 2019.
Breathtaking beaches, beautiful celebrities and a sunny climate sounds like a dream, but according to Mr Gudgeon, the influx of creatives and celebrities has one major drawback.
“The bloody traffic – it’s been shocking!” he said.