Packer babe is a frequent flyer

Packer babe is a frequent flyer, by Andrew Hornery - 10th May 2008
(Credit: The Sydney Morning Herald)

Eighteen months ago she was known simply as the model Erica Baxter, a regular on the Bondi Beach social scene, aspiring pop star and on-again, off-again girlfriend of the fabulously wealthy James Packer.

Even then she was keenly aware that even friends of the Packers do things discreetly, forcing her to wear dodgy wigs to perform incognito at grungy inner-city Sydney pubs.

How times have changed.

These days she is known as the haute couture-wearing Erica Packer, wife of the billionaire James and friend of the world's rich and famous.

Her singing career may have ended up with her debut CD in the $1.99 discount bin at record shops, but Erica has a far greater project to focus on - the birth of her first baby in just a couple of months' time.

And while she had become a regular at the Church of Scientology and undertaken several of its courses, don't expect her to be having a "silent birth" when the bundle of joy finally arrives. Just as her husband has slipped away from Scientology, so too has Erica.

For months now she has been "nesting" at Ellerston, the sprawling Packer country estate about an hour's drive from Scone in the Hunter Valley.

But billionaires don't "nest" like the rest of us, painting the nursery and buying stuffed toys.

Erica and James are building their own lavish retreat at Ellerston next to the family homestead.

Friends say the couple will spend a significant amount of time raising their progeny at Ellerston, far from Sydney's prying eyes, while making regular trips to their other homes across the world.

One of the many features Erica has planned for the new country home is a large pool so she can keep up with her regular lap swimming while "slumming it" in the bush.

Erica's personal helicopter has also become a regular sight in the skies above Scone, ferrying the former model and her billionaire baby bump between Ellerston and her parents' home in Gunnedah, a handy 10-minute flight away. Locals say the chopper frequently lands in her parents' backyard, with Erica popping in for lunch with the folks.

And while her husband's many international business commitments and burgeoning global casino business have kept him in a constant state of jet-lag for years, PS hears he has also been spending considerable time at Ellerston by his wife's side.


Erica Baxter

James Packer

Bondi Beach