January 2006

Aussies gather to say G'day to LA


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Aussies gather to say G'day to LA

The Courier-Mail, January 16 2006

AUSSIES GATHER TO SAY G'DAY TO LA

News Source: The Courier-Mail, Monday, January 16 2006

By Peter Mitchell

THERE wasn't a water pistol in sight as Australia's Tinseltown elite, led by Hugh Jackman, Olivia Newton-John and Eric Bana, strode the red carpet at the G'day LA Penfolds Icon Gala Dinner.

A few honorary Australians such as John Travolta and his actress wife Kelly Preston also partied with 1380 others, who paid $US200 ($267) each for a three-course dinner by Sydney celebrity Neil Perry.

Last year's Penfold Ball was a 1200 seat sell-out, and next year it will be expanded to New York .

“It's always good to be at an Aussie event,” said Travolta, who once a year flies his family on his Qantas 707 with a stop in Australia .

But the superb Aussie lamb and seafood was not the only item the celebrities were talking about.

INXS told how they gave their new lead singer J.D. Fortune, a Canadian, a Vegemite initiation.

“You dip the prawns in Vegemite. It's delicious,” guitarist Tim Farriss laughed.

Some Aussie A-listers were not at this year's ball, including lovebirds Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban, who politely declined invitations.

Kidman and Urban met at last year's ball and are now reportedly engaged and pregnant, although there has been no official confirmation of either.

Heather Ledger and Michelle Williams also did not make the gala, but there was plenty of talk on the red carpet about how rogue paparazzi sprayed the two Brokeback Mountain actors with water pistols at the film's Sydney premiere.

Jackman believes one of his old buddies was behind the incident.

“It was actually Eric Bana,” Jackman whispered.

It is the third time the Penfolds Ball has been held in Hollywood as part of the Australia Week festival, which promotes Australian tourism, business, film, fashion, food and wine.

This year Newton-John was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award by her Grease co-star Travolta.

Other celebrities to walk the red carpet included Melissa George, Kimberley Joseph, Sophie Monk, Jesse Spencer, US soap star Lorenzo Lamas, Sara Wynter and Steve Irwin.

Some non-Hollywood types, including Rupert Murdoch, federal treasurer Peter Costello, former deputy leader Tim Fischer and astronaut Andy Thomas also attended.

The G'day LA festival continues tomorrow with an AFL match between the Sydney Swans and Kangaroos.