“All those things we used to whinge about, you look back now and think, gosh we were so lucky…”
to our friends.’ We’d get the bus into town to go to school and it was probably 40 minutes drive, but it felt like forever. All those things we used to whinge about, you look back now and think, gosh, we were so lucky to grow up with that space and freedom. It was really lovely. I always wanted to be a journalist, from the age of 12. No one else in my family is in the media, but I grew up watching 60 Minutes and I always loved reading the newspapers and was always interested in what was going on in the world. I wouldn’t say I was intense as a child but I was always, always driven — like, if I didn’t come fifirst in a school test, I would come home and I’d be beside myself. In high school it got to a point where it wasn’t very healthy. Mum said the other day that, while I was doing my HSC, I’d come home from ballet at 8.30–9pm at night, have dinner then set my alarm and get up at midnight or 1am and work until I went to school that day. I was a nightmare to live with. Our house was a solid brick, four-bedroom home with white carpet and a swimming pool. I think it was built in the early 1980s. I hated my bedroom. I had a real issue with it because when I was about nine, I found a red bellied black snake behind my door. I remember it was like a horror fifilm. There was this angry snake curled up and hissing and I was screaming ‘Dad!’ and everyone came running in. Back then you’d kill snakes, so Dad came in and ‘fixed’ it — which left blood stains on the carpet. For months afterwards I would sit up in the middle of the night and yell, ‘Dad! I can hear a snake!’ and my parents would have to come in and turn on all the lights and look under the bed and through the cupboards. I was absolutely traumatised and it triggered an insomnia in me that I’ve had right through. My parents are still up there, still in the same house, and my brother is living back in Wauchope now with his wife and four kids. I can’t wait for Mack to get a bit older and to take him up there and have him riding horses and on the tractor and feeding the chooks — all those things you aren’t exposed to living in the city. We’ve got a beautiful lifestyle here right near the beach in Bronte, but I do worry about bringing Mack up in the eastern suburbs. I don’t want him to ever feel that sense of entitlement; that things will be handed to him. He’s got to learn that you’ve got to work hard for everything you can get. I was so glad when I fifinally got into this industry and it was everything I’d hoped it would be. I had so many great mentors in my early years, I was so lucky, and I know it now. I know that if someone’s keen and really wants to learn, I’ll give them all the time in the world because I had the benefifit of that and it made such a difference. WAUCHOPE Located on the southern banks of the Hastings River, this town of around 11,000 is 20 kilometres inland from Port Macquarie on the NSW mid-north coast. Perhaps best known for its heritage theme village, Timbertown, which celebrates the area’s early importance in the timber industry, Wauchope is also close to national parks that are part of the World Heritage-listed Gondwana Rainforests of Australia. The traditional custodians of the region are the Birpai people, with European settlement dating from the late 1820s. Today, retail, education and tourism are key industries, with monthly farmers’ markets providing a showcase for local produce and the annual Wauchope Show a highlight in the region. For more information, visit pmhc.nsw.gov.au
FROM LEFT Allison and her siblings take their bikes for a spin on the balcony of their home in Woonona, Wollongong; as a student at Wauchope Primary School; Allison shows offff her gymnastics trophy, aged fifive.