AFL footballer Hayden Ballantyne, and his partner Alyssa Hennessy, welcomed their daughter Avery on December 8. Alyssa has a young daughter named Avarna from a previous relationship.
Hayden started his career in the WAFL, playing for Peel Thunder, and has played for the Fremantle Dockers in the AFL since 2009. He is chiefly known for his ability to pester and annoy his opponents. Hayden dad Graeme is a horse trainer, and the winner of the 2013 Perth Cup, Talent Show, was trained by Graeme and part-owned by Hayden.
Alyssa and Hayden have known each other since primary school, and began dating three years ago.
(Photo shows Hayden, Alyssa and Avarna, from Perth Now)
Comedian Adam Hills, and his wife Ali McGregor, welcomed their daughter Maisie Grace at the end of November. Maisie Hills joins big sister Beatrice “Bebe“, aged 3.
Adam has been working in stand-up comedy since the late 1980s, and has performed at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, and the Montreal Just for Laughs festival. He is best known for hosting ABC music trivia show Spicks and Specks, and has appeared as a guest on many Australian and British shows, including British music trivia show, Never Mind the Buzzcocks. He had his own weekly ABC chat show, Adam Hills Tonight, which has just come to an end. Adam was born without a right foot and wears a prosthesis, which has sometimes been used as a source of comedy during his stand-up routines; he regularly has a sign-language interpreter at his shows for the hearing impaired. Adam co-hosted the ABC coverage of the 2008 Summer Paralympics, was part of the UK Channel 4 commentary team for the London Paralympics, and co-hosted a review of each day’s events called The Last Leg. He has also written for the BBC’s disability website, Ouch!
Ali is a soprano opera singer, actress and cabaret performer. She studied music at the Australian National University, and completed her Bachelor degree at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester on a scholarship. After working in Britain, she joined Opera Australia, and was principal soprano there for several years. Her cabaret shows have been performed at festivals in Australia, Britain and Ireland, her variety show has become a fixture at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, and she has acted on stage in Australia and Britain. She was a regular guest panellist on Spicks and Specks. Adam and Ali were married in 2009.
Film makers Allannah Zitserman and Stavros Kazantzidis welcomed their daughter Lula Ophelia on March 7. Lula Kazantzidis joined big sister Mila, aged 2. Allannah and Stavros are award-winning film makers and founders of the Dungog Film Festival in the Hunter Valley region.
(Photo of Allannah and Stavros from The Sydney Morning Herald)
Rugby league legend Mal Meninga, and his wife Amanda, welcomed their son Elijah Henry Brooklyn on February 14. Mal has two adult children from his first marriage, while Amanda has a son from a previous relationship. Mal played for Souths Magpies in the Brisbane Rugby League, then for the Canberra Raiders in the National Rugby League, where, as captain, he led them to three Grand Final victories. He was also captain of the Australian squad and of the Queensland State of Origin team. After retiring as a player, he coached the Canberra Raiders, then the Queensland Maroons in State of Origin, taking them to eight consecutive wins. He has received the Order of Australia for services to rugby league, and been inducted into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame, and the Australian Rugby League Hall of Fame. The main grandstand at Canberra Stadium is named in his honour.
Newcastle Knights NRL player Jeremy Smith, and his wife Jody, welcomed their daughter Cali in late September [pictured]; Cali arrived on the night of the Knight’s semi-final against Melbourne – one of the biggest upset wins of the season. Cali was born 12 weeks premature, and the Smiths hope to have her home from hospital by Christmas. Jeremy withdrew from the Rugby League World Cup in order to take care of his family while Jody was in hospital. Cali Smith joins older siblings Marly, aged 8, Evie, aged 2, and Jeremy Junior “JJ“, aged 1 – JJ’s birth was announced on the blog last year.
St. Illawarra NRL player Kyle Stanley, and his fiancee Niketa Patterson, welcomed their son Koah last year. Kyle belongs to a famous family which has produced many rugby union and rugby league players. He spent all of the 2013 season in rehabilitation after a knee injury, but is ready to play in 2014. The name Koah was chosen by Niketa for its Hawaiian meaning of “brave”.
Rugby union player Sekope Kepu, who plays for the national Wallabies team, and his wife Anna, welcomed their son Isaiah in March. Isaiah Kepu is brother to Faith-Rose, aged 4, Israel, aged 1, and Wesley, who was stillborn in 2011.
Actress and comedian Mary Coustas and her husband George Betsis welcomed their daughter Jamie on November 28. In August, Mary went public about her long struggle with infertility, involving IVF treatment, multiple miscarriages, and the stillbirth of Jamie’s sister Stevie, so the arrival of a healthy baby is incredibly good news at last.
Mary is best-known for her character Effie Stephanidis, a stereotypical second-generation Greek-Australian with big hair and the catch phrase “How embarrassment”. Mary started out in the stage show Wogs Out of Work, then appeared in the television sit-com Acropolis Now as Effie. “Effie” also had an interview show, called Effie, Just Quietly, and a chat show, Greeks on the Roof, as well as a novelty single with Norman Gunston, and a book: Effie’s Guide to Being Up Yourself. Mary has also played dramatic roles on television, and done voice-over work. Recently Mary brought out a book called All I Know: A Memoir of Love, Loss and Life.
George Betsis is an advertising executive. He has a son named Tomas “Tom” (Jamie’s brother) from a previous relationship to mezzo-soprano Priscilla Dunstan, who developed the Dunstan Baby Language system of understanding baby’s cries. Priscilla now lives in Los Angeles, and she and George have since been in a custody dispute over Tomas, with George claiming he has been denied access to his son. George and Mary were married in the Greek Orthodox Church in Rose Bay in 2005.
(Photo of Mary and George from Essential Baby)
Singer Toby Allen, and his boyfriend, actor Darren Weller, welcomed twins named Harvey and Roxanne six months ago. Harvey and Roxanne were carried by a surrogate mother from California, who has since visited the twins.
Toby is a member of the pop group Human Nature, along with Andrew and Mike Tierney, and Phil Burton. All schoolmates with a background in choir, they formed a band while still in high school. Their debut album, Telling Everybody, was released in 1996, and went triple platinum; it is considered one of Australia’s most successful debut albums. They have continued to bring out top-selling albums, toured with acts like Michael Jackson and Celine Dion, and performed the national anthem at the 2000 Olympics. Since 2005, they have been associated with Motown stars like Smokey Robinson and Mary Wilson, and after performing in the United States in 2008, have become a resident act on the Las Vegas Strip. Toby has played the lead role in the musical Cabaret, for which he won a Helpmann Award, and also appeared in Grease. He has competed on Dancing with the Stars, and Australia’s Brainiest, where he came runner-up as Australia’s brainiest musician (his bandmate Phil Burton won).
Darren has appeared in several television series, such as All Saints and White Collar Blue, but is principally a stage actor. He is best known for portraying Julian Assange in the “Wikiplay”, Stainless Steel Rat/Man in the Middle, which has been staged in Sydney and London. The play was regularly updated to reflect changing events. Darren and Toby have been together for nine years, and live in Las Vegas in the United States.
(Photo shows Darren and Toby with the twins; Toby is on the right)
Olympic aerial ski-er Alisa Camplin, and her husband, Oliver Warner, welcomed their daughter Florence on October 3. Florence Warner was born at the Royal Women’s Hospital in Melbourne. Alisa and Oliver lost their first child, Finnan, in 2011, and set up the charity Finnan’s Gift in his honour.
(Photo of Alisa, Oliver and baby Florence from Collingwood Football Club)
Basketball coach Carrie Graf, and her partner Camille Chicheportiche, welcomed twins Charli and Bentley on June 21. Charli was born first, weighing 2.8 kg, and her brother Bentley followed just two minutes later, weighing 2.7 kg. Charli and Bentley were conceived with the help of IVF, using an international sperm donor who is open to revealing his identity to the twins if they want that. The twins both have Chicheportiche as their middle name, since a hyphenated surname seemed too unwieldy.
Carrie began her basketball career at the age of 15, and competed in the Women’s National Basketball League from 1983-89 before studying to become a coach. She has coached women’s basketball for over 20 years, and was named WNBL Coach of the Year in 2007 and 2008. She holds the most records for coaching wins, with more than 200 under her belt. She has coached the Sydney Flames and the Canberra Capitals; she coached the latter during their 2008/2009 season when they won the WNBL Championship. Carrie was the first Australian to be named a head coach in the American WNBA, coaching the Phoenix Mercury. She has also coached the national women’s basketball team, taking them to medal wins at two Summer Olympics, winning the FIBA Oceania Championship, and the World University Games. Carrie won High Performance Coach of the Year and Young Coach of the Year in 1996, was awarded an Australian Sports Medal for services to basketball in 2000, and was named a life member of the WNBL in 2006. She was Sportsperson of the Year in 2008.
Camille, who carried the twins, is on maternity leave from the Australian Federal Police. She and Carrie have been together for seven years after being introduced by mutual friends, and wear rings as a sign of their committment. The couple live in the ACT where same-sex marriage is about to be legalised, but even if the legislation gets through, they have no immediate plans to marry.
(Picture shows Carrie and Camille with the twins – Carrie is on the right holding Charli in pink; photo from the Sydney Morning Herald).