Group Journalist - Northern Tablelands
The exciting thing about journalism is the variety; one can explore the world, meet interesting people and write about it. I've sat in the caravan of an African circus ringmaster; I've squatted on my haunches in a plastic-sorting factory in the Mumbai slums, talking to the workers and drinking hot chai in plastic cups the size of thimbles; and I've interviewed Chinese cultural attachés, Danish football stars and Japanese drummers. Now I’ve come to the Northern Tablelands as a group journalist working across six of Fairfax’s mastheads. Living in New England is a return to country. My father’s side of the family lived here since the 19th century. My great-great-grandparents are buried in Ben Lomond. My great-grandmother and grandmother spent most of their lives in and around Glencoe and Glen Innes, and are both buried in Tamworth. My grandfather isn’t; his ashes are in a cupboard until we throw them in the Macdonald, near Bendemeer, where he used to fish. And my father cut his teeth as a cadet journalist on the Northern Daily Leader, before moving to Canberra, and studied history at UNE. Moving here is following in the family footsteps. Armidale seems charming: up here, in Australia’s highest city, one feels close to the sky. And the mixture of 1830s historic buildings; green, rain-washed hills, crowned with conifers; and one of the country’s leading universities give it a unique appeal. I completed my journalism qualifications last year, while freelancing for newspapers and magazines, and holding down a full-time job. I spent the end of last year in Sri Lanka, where I reported on visiting Buddhist dignitaries (from exotic Perth), UN development programs, Italian food weeks, and hotels in former war-zones. Previously, I worked as a writer and editor for the Australian Government in Canberra for a decade. In my day job, I briefed members of parliament about international relations, and wrote about agricultural aid programs to developing countries. Journalism, though, is where my heart lies. I want to experience life, rather than sit behind a desk. And, having grown up in Belgium, I want to be Tintin. I hope to get to know and love the region where my ancestors lived, while reporting on issues important to the Tablelands.