It's not as if he needed to lick his wounds, so to speak, but amidst his split from Miley Cyrus, Liam Hemsworth found himself increasingly drawn to the shores of Australia.
Disentangling yourself from the person you spent the previous decade alongside being what it is, "He needed to get out of town and away from it all to be able to get some perspective," a source told E! News last fall. And there was no better place for that than Byron Bay, the spot older brother Chris Hemsworth had decamped to some six years ago to be closer to family.
"He is with the people he loves and just taking each day as it comes," noted the source. "Everyone has been very supportive and trying to take his mind off of things. He's not in a rush to figure out where to go next."
But should the right person happen to cross his path, then, sure, he'd follow along.
Enter Gabriella Brooks, the 23-year-old Sydney-based model, who has spoken of her love for adventure, the outdoors and animals. Asked to describe her perfect Sunday back in 2015, the then-Sydney University student told SurfStich in a blog post for the brand, "Wake up to a tea and a nice little read on the balcony before walking to the beach for a swim. I'll then head out on the boat for a fish and a waterski, followed by a picnic lunch on a remote beach we found. Something yum for dinner (maybe lasagna) and then crashing on the couch watching whatever new series I've become addicted to (with a block of chocolate)."
Which, add in some surfing, and tell us that doesn't sound exactly like a weekend Hemsworth would sign up for. No wonder, then, that an insider tells E! News the 30-year-old alum of the Hunger Games franchise is "excited about dating Gabriella." A handful of months in, says the insider, "His family really likes her and they have a normal relationship without drama."
That last bit is key considering how sister-in-law Elsa Pataky, wed to Chris for nearly a decade, already voiced her stance that the chiseled star "deserves so much better" than his previous union with Cyrus.
Brooks seems to have passed that particular test early on, looking awfully comfortable with Hemsworth's parents Craig Hemsworth and Leonie Hemsworth during a December lunch at The Roadhouse in Byron Bay. Their first photographed outing, it also served as the initial indication that his romance with Australian actress Maddison Brown had run its course.
Of course nothing charms the parents like giving their son a reason to hang around at home, so the Topshop and Calvin Klein model came in with one notch in the win column. "The Australia connection is definitely nice for both of them," the insider tells E! News. "She wants to be in Australia just as much as he does and they both really enjoy being there and spending time with family and friends. He doesn't feel like he is being pulled away."
He's certainly shown no interest in separating himself from Brooks, the onetime ancient history and archeology major making the trip to L.A. to spend time with Hemsworth stateside earlier this year.
There, the Most Dangerous Game star, who told told Australian GQ last May, "Sometimes I don't want to be the center of attention. I just want to sit in the back and be quiet and have no one bother me," stayed fairly on brand.
Rather than squire Brooks to industry parties, their handful of joint sightings amounted to a couple of trips to the gym (he prefers "really high-intensity body-weight workouts like burpees and pushups and pullups and dips," he told Men's Journal; she likes to jog) and a lunch outing to The Ivy with his eldest brother Luke Hemsworth and wife Samantha Hemsworth.
So seems they're on board as well.
By March, an officially single Hemsworth (he and Cyrus finalized their divorce in late January) and his gal were back Down Under for more double dates with his parents and frolics on the beach, a spot they've both declared as their happy place. (Not to mention somewhere they can show off how all that jogging and burpees do a body good.)
While Hemsworth has professed a love of surfing so deep he told Men's Journal, "If I could travel around the world and surf for a living, I would," Brooks told SurfStich "between shoots and castings I'm either studying, at the beach with friends, reading, or making and eating a delicious meal."
Which explains why they've been able to so seamlessly fit into each other's worlds. "They can both just completely be themselves and take things at face value," the insider tells E! News. "She's low key and down-to-earth. So far its been very easy and fun."
Sounds like Hemsworth has found everything he didn't realize he was looking for.