Sydney There are bumps and there are celebrity bumps. Then there is Nicole Kidman's bump, a modest swelling which has generated more headlines than the American presidential campaign since it was unveiled to the Sydney paparazzi. Gossip writers have been in frenzy about the impending birth. One newspaper columnist declared that the Kidman bump was 'one of the hottest anticipated pregnancies in the world'. Women's Day magazine is running a competition to choose a name for the child, whose sex remains a mystery. Only the untimely death of Australian actor Heath Ledger, reported in New York yesterday, was big enough to halt the media juggernaut unleashed by news that Kidman and her husband, Keith Urban, are expecting their first child - an event which is being treated by the press here with the same reverence once afforded the British royal family. 'It's not surprising,' explains New Idea's editor-in-chief, Robyn Foyster. 'She and Keith are Australian royalty. She's turned 40 and we've seen the marriage go through difficult times in the past few months. Now she's expecting a baby. With all her ups and downs, everyday people can relate to her.' Both Kidman and Ledger have had a rocky, often acrimonious relationship with the Sydney media. Ledger, the star of Brokeback Mountain, Casanova and other movies, fled his adopted city 18 months ago after paparazzi sprayed him with water pistols at a red-carpet event. His father, Kim Ledger, blamed the media for his son's decision to leave Sydney (his home for the past decade) and his A$7 million (HK$47 million) beachfront mansion. 'He cried all night,' said Mr Ledger of his son. Kidman, the darling of her home town, has had many run-ins with the paparazzi, which she has accused of stalking her and even endangering her life. The statuesque movie star told a Sydney court last year about a high-speed car chase involving freelance photographer Jamie Fawcett. The event had left her 'in tears and distressed', she said. Kidman now employs a full-time security guard to protect her Sydney home. Things took an even more melodramatic turn when Kidman recently threatened to leave Sydney before the birth of her child, despite earlier comments that she and Urban - who have just sold their Nashville home - were determined that their first-born would be a bona fide Australian. Friends of the actor told gossip columnist Andrew Hornery last weekend that the actor would have the child elsewhere unless the media gave them some more space. 'If it keeps up she will leave and have the baby where she does not get hassled,' they reportedly said. The experiences of both Kidman and Ledger suggest that Sydney is no longer the happy-go-lucky place that it once was - and that the harbour city is becoming obsessed with fame, wealth and public excess of every kind. Indeed, celebrity watcher Jack Marx believes that Sydney is probably more desperate for top gossip than its European and American counterparts. 'Sydney may be a big city, but it's a pretty small pond,' he said. 'We don't have as many A-list celebrities as they do in Los Angeles, so when someone like Scarlett Johansson rocks into town she gets a lot of attention. Just look at how crazy Sydney went when David Beckham was here.' Like other commentators, Marx accuses Sydney's resident mega-stars of double standards, demanding media attention one minute and privacy the next. 'Let's face it, most celebrities crave the media spotlight,' he said. 'If they wanted anonymity they'd move to Guam.' Margie Blok, property writer with The Sydney Morning Herald and a keen observer of the city's social scene, agrees that celebrities who complain about media intrusion have only themselves to blame. Plenty of stars such as Cate Blanchett, Bryan Brown, Jack Thompson and Judy Davis manage to live anonymously in the suburbs, shop at their local supermarket and drive the children to school or - like Hugh Jackman - play with them on Bondi Beach. 'Nicole Kidman could live like that if she wanted to, but she wants the attention. That's why she's surrounded by a phalanx of bodyguards and PR people,' Blok said. According to Blok, however, celebrity is a pretty degraded currency in a town where hairdressers, retired cricketers and second-rate chefs are widely touted as A-listers. 'The most important commodity in Sydney is not fame but real estate,' she said. 'Anyone can be a celebrity here provided you shell out A$20 million for a harbourfront mansion. The next week you'll be throwing a party for Ivana Trump. Sydney was built by convicts. If you have enough money you can buy your way into society regardless of where you come from - or how you made your money.'