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Palmie paradise beckons, by Andrew Hornery - 10th December 2005
(Credit: The Sydney Morning Herald)

Palm Beach types say they are an insular lot on the peninsula, too content with their idyllic lives among the mansions to bother looking over neighbours' fences. That's what they would like the rest of us to believe.

The social season at "Palmie" has begun with legions of billionaires, supermodels, Hollywood superstars, industrialists, sports stars and their hangers-on taking up residence in Sydney's answer to the Cote d'Azur.

John Cleese is renting the $30,000-a-week Kalua mansion, which Nicole Kidman had last year, and Elle Macpherson has made quiet inquiries about spending part of the summer at Palm Beach. Macpherson may be renting Kalua (owned by the Joye family) before Cleese arrives, as she is due to be at Palm Beach for only a week.

On Tuesday privacy extensions went up on the fence around Kalua, to keep prying paparazzi lenses at bay. It was the same method adopted last year when Kidman was in residence.

Meanwhile, Woman's Day has hired guards to watch over Lleyton Hewitt and Bec Cartwright, and their baby girl - virtual prisoners in the $4.5 million mansion they call home.

"They live 100 metres from the beach and they never go there," a local observer said. "They have become mushrooms."

It's all about protecting the reported $1 million deal Woman's Day has for the exclusive story on the new baby. The magazine's proprietors, the Packer family, are also more security conscious, installing cameras on their pink compound, which has a 40-metre beach frontage. Builders are still working on the Packer renovations, rumoured to cost $2 million. However, the caged enclosure where Kerry Packer once practised his polo swings on a wooden horse still remains.

The property developers Bob and Margaret Rose have finished building their beach pad, which one local reports as "magnificent". Their Christmas lights are a local attraction.

Dining at the local canteen Jonah's could take on a slightly less cheery dimension this year, with a 36-year feud between the restaurant and its neighbours threatening to boil over.

However, some traditions never change. Last year Amanda Nankervis threw a black and white party at her Palm Beach abode, with ladies wearing fabulous black and white ball gowns. This year she is toning things down a little, but intends to host a "formal pool party".

Nearby, Gretel Pinniger (aka Madam Lash), will be dusting off the Madam Claus outfit she bought at Sexpo two years ago as guests arrive for her belated Christmas luncheon, three days after the actual event.

"It's velvet with feathers, worn over very high black patent boots with red flames on them … We will be serving turkey and all the traditional trimmings," she said.



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