ALLISON LANGDON

THE 60 MIN­UTES RE­PORTER TELLS CATHER­INE MCCOR­MACK WHY SHE FEELS SO LUCKY TO HAVE GROWN UP ON A FARM IN WAUCHOPE IN NORTH­ERN NSW.

Country Style - - MY COUNTRY CHILDHOOD - TV JOUR­NAL­IST AND AU­THOR

“I WOULD LOVE one day to move back to the coun­try, I would love it,” says award-win­ning 60 Min­utes re­porter Allison Langdon, who spent her child­hood on a hobby farm in Wauchope on the mid-north coast of NSW. “But I’m mar­ried to a city bloke and al­though he likes the idea of it, I know when push came to shove, I couldn’t get him to the bush.” Allison and her hus­band, jour­nal­ist Michael Wille­see Jnr, live in Sydney’s east­ern sub­urbs with their eight-month-old son, Mack, and both are proud sup­port­ers of R U OK?, the sui­cide preven­tion char­ity founded in 2009 by ad­ver­tis­ing ex­ec­u­tive and friend, the late Gavin Larkin. The char­ity en­cour­ages con­ver­sa­tion around men­tal health and sui­cide. This year, R U OK? Day falls on Thurs­day 14 Septem­ber. “We’ve got a mas­sive is­sue here and it touches peo­ple across the board,” says the 38-year-old over cofff­fee at her favourite café in Bronte. “It hits ev­ery­one, all walks of life. Per­son­ally I’ve been touched by it — I don’t think there’s any per­son who could say they don’t know of some­one who has a men­tal health is­sue or has taken their own life or at­tempted it. It’s some­thing we need to talk about.” Since her fi­first job as a pro­ducer on Chan­nel Nine’s Night­line, aged 21, Allison — who was de­ter­mined to be­come a jour­nal­ist from the age of 12 — has built an im­pres­sive ca­reer around tack­ling im­por­tant is­sues, both here and abroad. Af­ter a num­ber of years work­ing in news­rooms in­clud­ing for Na­tional Nine News and the To­day show, and re­leas­ing her fi­first book in 2007 about the mur­der of new­born Te­gan Lane, Allison landed her dream job with 60 Min­utes in 2011, aged 31. “I al­ways wanted 60,” says the re­porter, who left Wauchope and an ear­lier in­ter­est in bal­let be­hind to study jour­nal­ism at Charles Sturt Univer­sity in Bathurst, NSW. “When I fi­first got [the job], and I was quite young, and an­other journo asked me, ‘What’s next?’ I re­mem­ber look­ing at him and think­ing, what do you mean what’s next? This is all I’ve wanted as a jour­nal­ist!” Be­fore hav­ing Mack, Allison of­ten spent half the year on the road, chas­ing sto­ries as far afi­field as So­ma­lia (where civil war was rag­ing), Patag­o­nia (where she trekked across glaciers) and Antarc­tica, which she vis­ited last year to dive with leop­ard seals and “high­light the is­sues of cli­mate change oc­cur­ring down there”. Now she plans to stay a lit­tle closer to home. “I’m not do­ing less work,” she says, “it’s where I’m do­ing it that’s changed. Mike and I have talked about it a lot. I don’t want all of that to stop, and ob­vi­ously it de­pends on how Mack han­dles it, but we’ve got this idea that, if it just be­comes very nor­mal — in a lot of mar­riages, Daddy goes away for work but in ours, Mummy’s the one who is go­ing. I would love for him to grow up see­ing that his mum works hard and has an in­ter­est­ing job and is do­ing good things. I want to be that kind of role model.” And while a move back to Wauchope isn’t on the cards, reg­u­lar vis­its up to her child­hood home, where her par­ents still live to­day, are an ex­cit­ing prospect. “I want Mack to get up there and get grotty and run around and scrape his knees,” says Allison. “All those good things.” For more in­for­ma­tion on R U OK? Day, visit ruok.org.au. If you or some­body you know needs help, tele­phone Life­line on 13 11 14 or visit life­line.org.au

I WAS BORN in Wol­lon­gong on the NSW south coast, but grew up in Wauchope, just in­land from Port Mac­quarie. I was seven when we moved; Dad al­ways wanted a lit­tle hobby farm, so we moved to 10 hectares and had horses, chooks, cows and sheep. It was such a beau­ti­ful life­style and a beau­ti­ful child­hood — sim­ple and fun. I have an older brother, Heath, 41, and a younger sis­ter, Kris­ten, 35, and on school hol­i­days Mum would send us out­side and say, ‘I don’t want to see you in the house to­day!’ As long as we were to­gether and told to ‘look af­ter your lit­tle sis­ter’, we had that free­dom to dis­ap­pear. We’d come in at lunchtime to eat, then dis­ap­pear again and come back when the sun went down. At the back of our place was forestry land, so we’d go out and build cubby houses and when we were a bit older, ride mo­tor­bikes or our horses. It was great fun, al­though you prob­a­bly don’t ap­pre­ci­ate that as much un­til you’re an adult and don’t have it any­more. When you’re young it’s, ‘Why do we live so far out of town? We’re not close enough >

FRO OM LEFT Allison and her brother, Heath,thHeaH ridingidi a hhorse att ththeiri grand­fa­ther’sdf th ’ farm­far in Glen Innes, NSW; happy at preschool;pre Allison and Heath meet­ing a kakan­ga­roo at King­fi­fisher Park in PortPor Mac­quarie.

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