Is Byron Bay Actually The New Hollywood? An Investigation

From Zac Efron to Nicole Kidman to Mark Wahlberg, why are so many A-list celebs flocking to Byron, Australia's hippy haven and anti-vaxxer dream spot?

byron bay new hollywood

Want more Junkee in your life? Sign up to our newsletter, and follow us on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook so you always know where to find us.

Despite our borders being shut and international travel still not being likely for us any time soon, Australia seems to be welcoming a new Hollywood star with each passing day.

As the US continues to be absolutely ravaged by coronavirus, with numbers currently at an all-time high with around 200,000 new cases a day, American celebrities are fleeing to Australia, where coronavirus is relatively under control.

But beyond the whole lack of coronavirus thing, Hollywood producers have been enticed into filming in Australia thanks to the government offering a $400 million Location Incentive in the hopes of boosting foreign expenditure and creating new employment opportunities for Aussies.

As a result, we’re now being inundated with A-listers, who are either flocking Down Under for new roles or to simply escape the shitshow that’s happening in America. But why the hell is everyone heading straight to Byron Bay, the hippy haven and anit-vaxxer dream spot? Let’s investigate:

Byron Bay Is Clearly The New Hollywood

Chris Hemsworth and Elsa Pataky


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Elsa Pataky (@elsapatakyconfidential)

Chris Hemsworth and Elsa Pataky jumped ship and moved to Byron from LA in 2014, way before it became the cool thing to do in 2020.

Obviously as an Aussie, Hemsworth has quite a few ties to the country so the move wasn’t too out of character. But when the family settled in Byron, they caused a whole lot of controversy for deciding to build a mega-mansion in Broken Head because locals felt it was “greedy, flashy [and] vulgar opulence and its finest”.

Regardless, Hemsworth continued with the build and has resided down in Byron since the move six years ago. Talking to GQ earlier this year, the Thor star explained that he decided to move because living in the “eye of the storm” of Hollywood was just “a little bit too much” for him.

“Living in Australia, it’s also easier to detach myself from work — and you get a bit more leeway to let a few emails and phone calls slide on by,” Hemsworth said.

Chatting to The Sunday Telegraph, the actor also explained that it was “hugely refreshing” that “not a single person [in Byron Bay] that I interact with, or close friends of mine, are really in the industry.

Zac Efron 

We all collectively lost our minds when Zac Efron randomly decided to silently move to Australia.

After being spotted in a random Byron cafe in June, Efron soon made headlines for living a rom-com plot out in real life by getting together with a local waitress and model, Vanessa Valladares. As the pair spent more time together, people even begun to speculate that Efron was even renting a $22 million Byron Bay home just to be with her.

Right now the High School Musical star is down in Adelaide, walking around Rundle Mall in thongs and filming the new Stan movie, Gold. But prior to the move, Efron resided in Byron for a good solid few months, and has not explained why he chose the beach town to ride out the pandemic.

However, in the Sardinia episode of his Netflix show Down to Earth, Efron mentioned that he has been keen to “get out of Hollywood” as it’s not a place conducive with a “long, happy, mentally-sound life”.

Nicole Kidman, Melissa McCarthy, Rose Byrne and the cast of Nine Perfect Strangers 


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Nicole Kidman (@nicolekidman)

Also calling Byron Bay home for the time being are Aussies Nicole Kidman, Keith Urban, and the cast of her latest project, Nine Perfect Strangers. 

Speaking to The Sunday Telegraph, Kidman said that filming in Byron Bay was a “great opportunity for me to give back to the community that nurtured me through so much of my career”

Along with Kidman, co-producer Melissa McCarthy, Luke Evans, Bobby Cannavale and Rose Byrne have also settled into Byron as the mini-series films, much to the dismay of locals. According to a submission to popular Instagram gossip site Deuxmoi, Nine Perfect Strangers filming has caused major traffic in the area and has disturbed the once ~peaceful~ and ~chill~ area.

As one submission sooked, “Zac Efron, Jacob Elordi, etc. all buy houses here because they love the vibes but the vibes are gone :(“.

Jacob Elordi 

Like it was mentioned in the above complaint, beyond sporting a dirty mullet to buy a couple of watermelon Cruisers in a Brisbane bottle-o, Kissing Booth and Euphoria heartthrob, Jacob Elordi has also bought himself a Byron mansion worth a cool $2 million.

While there’s no evidence that the actor is actually currently residing in his new home, he clearly thought the area was good enough to drop a couple milli just like that.

Mark Wahlberg 

After arriving in Sydney via private jet last Monday, Mark Wahlberg avoided compulsory quarantine and boarded a flight straight to Byron Bay to self-isolate.

Given special permission by New South Wales Health, The Daily Telegraph reports that Wahlberg’s self-isolation in his Byron mansion is set to cost the actor a hefty $400,000.

Unlike the actors who are in Australia to film movies and tv shows, Wahlberg is actually only here to film a Ladbrokes gambling advert in Sydney. But to able to drop almost half a million dollars on self-quarantine means Wahlberg must be earning a pretty penny for that ad.

If Byron Is Hollywood, The Rest Of Australia Is Easily LA

Beyond Byron Bay, there are actually a heap of random celebrities dotted all around Australia at the moment.

Natalie Portman was spotted on a family holiday in Byron Bay back in October, before returning back to Sydney to film screen tests and do fittings for Thor: Love and Thunder at Fox Studios.

Similarly, Idris Elba is also currently in Sydney to film Three Thousand Years of Longing and Awkwafina just wrapped work on Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, which was filmed in Western Sydney.

Down in Melbourne, Liam Neeson is currently working on Backlight and Adrian Grenier is filming Netflix’s Clickbait. Also up in Queensland, after contracting coronavirus back in March, Tom Hanks returned to the Gold Coast in September to continue filming his Elvis bio-pic.

But some celebrities aren’t just here to film new shows and movies, instead some have decided to make an official move Down Under.

For example, Aussie Isla Fisher and her Borat star husband, Sacha Baron Cohen made the permanent move to Sydney last week. Seeking a quieter life for their family, Fisher and Cohen have already enrolled their three children into a local Sydney school.

However, the move isn’t actually all that surprising. Back in a 2018, during an interview with Marie Claire, Fisher shared that she had “this secret fantasy of slowing down, moving to Byron Bay, getting off the grid and sitting on the sand with a Vegemite sandwich”.

Growing up in Perth herself, Fisher explained that “juggling a family in LA isn’t easy” because “there’s not really a culture of bringing your kids to dinner parties or to restaurants past 6pm”.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Isla Fisher (@islafisher)

Also in Australia for no real reason is Kate Walsh, who came here on a holiday and has been residing in Perth since the pandemic went into overdrive in March.

Speaking to 9Honey, Walsh shared that she had extended her visa through to December, but has also been “quite passionate and vocal” about trying to get movies and television programs shot up in Perth.

So if these celebrities are anything to go by, it seems like all these A-listers (who aren’t just here to film) are really just keen on a quieter life in a more chill place. And naturally, where is more chill than Byron Bay, hippy capital of Australia turned the new Hollywood? Exactly.