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The cute little Hemsworth twins taking in the sunset wearing our Nino De La Luna Raglan
Free-spirited, open, funny and genuine, Elsa Pataky is one very likeable earth mama. After leaving the high-energy showbiz town of Los Angeles for Australia's laidback New South Wales North Coast, the Spanish actress, model and producer is relishing every second of her low-key life in Byron Bay with her husband Chris Hemsworth and three beautiful kids, India Rose and twin sons Tristan and Sasha. Elsa rocked up to our interview at Byron’s Bayleaf Café barefoot with no makeup and an open heart. She spoke to Children of the Tribe about giving her babies a normal childhood, raising resilient kids and how motherhood has made her a better person.
Interview: Amy Mills
Photography: Jason Ierace
Byron life is clearly agreeing with you! Why did you and Chris opt to move here?
We choose it because of the lifestyle. I have loved riding horses since I was young so I wanted to have horses and live in nature and Chris grew up surfing so that was something he wanted. There is something so special about the kids growing up close to the ocean, surfing and running on the beach. My kids are growing up with a lot of freedom.
What do you love most about Byron life?
For such a small town, there are so many amazing, creative people here. All of my favourite brands from all around the world are here – Spell, Arnhem, Goddess of Babylon. Even when I travel, I don’t buy anything anymore. I have everything I need here.
Do you have any favourite places to eat in town?
There is an amazing restaurant called Fleet that I love in Brunswick Heads. St. Elmo is great; I love to have breakfast here at Bayleaf, The Farm is great - there are so many places. I also go to Roadhouse I go a lot.
How would you describe your parenting style?
I think I am fairly free with them and I let them be themselves. There is such a freedom here in Byron. I feel like in the city, it’s a little more, ‘Don’t do this, watch the car, come back, don’t do that!’ but there, I usually go to places and properties where they can run and play and I love that style of life when are not restricted. There are moments that I feel like I need to be stronger them - especially the boys. Girls behave better but since I had the boys I need my husband more! For mums, it can be difficult to be strong with your boys but they need more of that sometimes…
I hear you! It’s so easy for us to spoil them but they definitely need to build resilience to cope with life down the track…
Yes, I think parents have this guilt all the time. We are trying to give them everything they want but life isn’t going to be like that and they are saying that this new generation struggle with life later on because they are used of having everything. You know, ‘But my mum was always telling me I was right and the best at everything and what do you mean I’m not! [laughs]. So I am trying to be stronger and tell them, ‘No, you can’t do that’ or ‘Yes, you lost.’ It can be hard but you have to remind yourself that it is good for the future.
Agree! What has motherhood taught you?
Everything! It is the best thing that has happened to me. It taught me to be a better person, to be more patient, to be more honest, to control my temper. Motherhood has changed me completely. It has changed my priorities and I am less ambitious about my work, which was always my priority. Now my priority is my kids. The most amazing thing is the love. You just never release how much you can love until you have kids – it is huge and it is beautiful. If you like kids, the best thing that can happen to a woman is having kids. It totally changes your life in the best way.
Is there a moment you’ve shared with your kids that will stay with you forever?
We are really into doing things with the kids. I will remember forever the first time India got a wave and when the boys stood up on a board for the first time the other week. I love those moments when we are at the beach or out doing things together. I have horses so seeing India with a little horse is beautiful. I love to share all of my hobbies with them.
You are both actors so was it important to you to raise them away from the spotlight in LA?
Yes, it was the most important thing. We were happy in LA and my job was there and our friends were there but then suddenly, having kids, we didn’t fit there. From our perspective, I don’t think it is a great town for kids and we felt we had to get out and have a totally normal life. My daughter started hating photos because of the paparazzi and I felt bad for her. I didn’t want to make my daughter go through this because of me. I thought, she probably will hate it or she will love it but it is her decision to do it in the future if she wants. We wanted to find a place where they can grow up with local people being normal in a small town in nature. It was really important for us that they don’t think they are any more special than anyone else. It is perfect here because people don’t really care.
You guys recently had a trip to Uluru, the Kimberley and Whitehaven Beach as part of Chris’ tourism ambassadorship. How was that?
It was amazing. It was such a great experience for the kids and for us and one that I will remember forever.
Any pinch-me moments?
Yes! At one point we went to a special area with an Aboriginal man and we were in the middle of nowhere, you could see Uluru and there was this amazing energy! You could feel it. It was a beautiful moment. And then we went to the Kimberley and the kids were playing in a natural rock pool with waterfalls. It was a dream.