A-list Australia: International Celebrities Reveal Their Down Under Faves

Hollywood star, Daryl Hannah (pictured here in movie, Splash) is a longtime fan of Australia

Our beaches and relaxed lifestyle make us the envy of the world, but it’s not only mere mortals who are fans. The Travel Hop meets a few of the international celebrities - Daryl Hannah, Jamie Oliver and Joss Stone, included - who reveal the Aussie travel experiences that have left their mark.


Actress, Daryl Hannah, is a big fan of Australia's NSW hinterland around Byron Bay

Community living in the NSW hinterland resonated with actress, Daryl Hannah

"I've been to Australia many times and was a visitor pretty regularly many years ago. The area that I always returned to – and still have very fond memories of – is the hinterland in the NSW far north coast. I'd actually never heard of the area until some friends of mine moved there and invited me to stay. I fell in love!

Daryl Hannah - pictured here in the iconic 80s hit, Splash - is a huge fan of Australia

"The ocean there is just pristine, the beaches are idyllic and it’s just so relaxing and exquisite. But chiefly, the main thing I remember loving is the vibe of the place. There was such a sense of community there, with an emphasis on sustainable living and plenty of organic markets. I think that a lot of the people living  there have their priorities aligned in a good way living simply off the land and living in harmony with their surroundings."

The beautiful hinterland near the NSW far northern town of Byron Bay, Australia

"Also, I found that being famous there isn’t a big deal. When I’m there I’m a human being just like everyone else. I've been working in this business for so long I'm quite used to bridging that gap and making people feel as comfortable as possible, which means that I can be relaxed too. I’d love to go back soon, saying that, I still haven't been to the interior of Australia, so that’s next on my list!"


Ultravox frontman, Midge Ure, has fond memories of Sydney's Sebel Hotel

Band Aid co-founder and Ultravox frontman, Midge Ure, remembers Australia’s most iconic rock 'n' roll hotel

"It may not have been the most glamorous or romantic setting Sydney had to offer, but back in the 1980s when I arrived on those shores with my band Ultravox, the Sebel Townhouse Hotel was a very welcome home from home.

"I was to learn that this was Sydney's magnet for all the visiting musicians, movie stars and politicians. I even remember having a drink with the then prime minister and then hanging round the roof top pool with George Michael, although in true muso style we acknowledge each other with a slight nod but never actually spoke! Elton John, David Bowie, Dire Straights and Abba, were all guests. And the hotel had no doubt been privy to many an outrage and tantrum, but the staff and management seemed to take everything thrown at them - or at times thrown from the building - in their stride. Every 'rock star' whim was catered for."

Rooftop pool with one hell of a view at the Sebel Quay West Suites in Sydney

"The Sebel earned its place in the annals of rock history alongside Hollywood’s Hyatt on Sunset, The Chelsea in New York, and the Notting Hill Hotel in London. It has been home to those on the way up, those at the top of their game and a handful - who could still afford it - on the way down. I have extremely fond, but vague memories – no doubt a result of the excesses of the time! –and while it may no longer exist, it’ll always have a special place in my heart."


An indigenous encounter in Byron Bay, Australia, made an impression on singer, Joss Stone

An encounter with an aboriginal arts organisation left a lasting impression on singer, Joss Stone

"In each place we go on tour, we try to visit a charity or work with someone doing a good cause so we can a) help out if possible and b) see the country a bit more before we’re whisked away to the next gig. Backstage at Bluesfest in Byron Bay I met a beautiful lady called Amanda from an aboriginal community arts charity. We got chatting and she told me about the work she does with young indigenous kids.

"The next day she and her friends took me to a cliff top overlooking a beautiful beach. After a traditional blessing, we went down to the beach and I was passed a huge conch shell and told to blow through it to call up the dolphins. Obviously I laughed at the idea.  How can they call up the bloody dolphins? Crazy people!  But, sure enough, they came.  There must have been 20 or more of them. I couldn't believe my eyes!"

British singer, Joss Stone, fell in love with Byron Bay's beaches

"After this incredible moment we went swimming in the ocean, which was milky blue and warm.  They taught me about the didgeridoo and how a woman isn't supposed to play it. I’ve gotta say, the childish side of me did giggle at that one - and the feminist side of me was livid! It was just such a perfect day; I wish I could have stayed longer. Although it was brief, it’s something I’ll never ever forget."


Superstar chef, Jamie Oliver, loves the food and wine scene in WA's, Margaret River

Unsurprisingly, one of Australia’s great food and wine regions rates highly for chef, Jamie Oliver

"You know what? There are too many beautiful places in Australia, but one that’s a definite standout for me is Margaret River. My friend (comedian and author) Ben Elton has a house there and obviously it’s known for amazing wine and food.

"I think a holiday with bad food is diabolical, but if you ask the right people on a holiday, you’ll always find something decent, which leads me to the most lingering memory I have of this place."

Western Australia's Margaret River is one of the country's top wine growing regions

"On one visit I was lucky enough to meet a really old and super-interesting Aussie guy on the flight there. It turned out that he had built most of the skyline in Sydney! He befriended me and ended up giving me the most incredible day, which I’ll never forget.

"We saw whales and all sorts of things and we went to the Leeuwin Estate, which has beautiful wine but also a really simple and delicious brasserie. He was about 80 - you know, at that brilliant age when he was great fun and just didn’t care. I had no idea who he was until later on in the day, but he’d obviously done a lot in his life and had an amazing legacy behind him. It’s not often in life that you get to sit down with someone who’s old and wise.

I think that’s one of my favourite things about travel - you don’t always meet the people you think you’re going to meet."


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