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INTERVIEW WITH MIKE WHITNEY ... by Leilani Shepherd

Friday, July 22, 2016
Today I was given the opportunity to have a chat with former test cricketer Mike Whitney, who told me all about his life and his time here on Norfolk Island.

Me: What exactly is it that you do?
Mike: When I retired from cricket in 1994, I was very lucky to be asked to host a television show on the ABC. I had no idea about going into TV or the media—I didn’t know what I was going to do. And on the back of making that television show I then got asked if I would like to talk to Channel 7 about hosting a show called Sydney Weekender that they had only done six episodes of in 1994. So I decided to do that—I started at Channel 7 in 1995 on January 1st, to learn the ropes on Sydney Weekender, and I’m still doing that show after twenty-two years and I’m about to do my nine-hundred and fiftieth episode. Basically, I’m now a TV presenter working in the media, I do some after dinner speaking, I sit on a couple of boards—I’m on the board of the ‘Baggy Blues,’ which is the ex-New South Wales players association. I’ve just stepped down from the board of surfing New South Wales after ten years and I’m the President of the Randwick Petersham Cricket Club, which is the club that I’ve been with for forty years. I’m also a Dad and I’m the lead singer of a Rock n Roll band called the Mike Whitney Band, which has been gigging around Sydney and its environment for ten years. 

Me: You’ve been back and forth to Norfolk quite a few times, what are you doing here this trip?
Mike:
I’ve been coming here for twenty years now, this is my sixth or seventh trip, I can’t quite remember. This is pretty much a standard trip for Sydney Weekender. We come over, and in conjunction with Tourism here, they decide what they’d like us to put on the show—certain elements. So this time I’ve done some things that I haven’t really done before, which was to go up Mount Pitt. I hadn’t been up there before and we went up there and did a piece for the camera, which was just fantastic. We also did a four-wheel-drive tour, which was pretty cool. We’ve been out fishing, which I’ve done before but you can never get sick of the coastline here and the beauty of when you’re out there looking back. The thing about out here is they don’t call it fishing; they call it catching—because you’re guaranteed to catch. I’ve been given a Mini-Moke to run around in, so we’ve featured that on the show. But the other special thing about this trip is Sophie Falkiner, whose been a media personality for a long time but has been out of the media for a while because she decided to have a couple of kids, so has been out for a little while, but is now making her way back in. Sydney Weekender, as far as Channel 7 is concerned, is the perfect vehicle for that. So, she’s come along on this trip as well to do some restaurants and pretty funky things that I think are more suited for a female to do. 

Me: Last, question: what would you say your favourite thing about Norfolk is?
Mike:
It’s one of the most beautiful places that I have ever been, anywhere in the world. My children counted up the countries that I’ve been to a few years ago and I’ve been to fifty-five different countries around the world. I class this [Norfolk Island] in the top half-dozen beautiful places I’ve ever been to. I love the history and the culture here, it’s very unique. Norfolk Islanders speak a language that is spoken by the least amount of people anywhere in the world. It’s on the UNESCO endangered languages list as far as I understand—you can’t lose that. The story about the Pitcairn Islanders and the Bounty people coming to live here after Pitcairn is just amazing. And then there is this other story about Norfolk being a really wicked penal colony. When I come here now, I find that very hard to digest, because it’s just such a beautiful place. So, I love the people here, I love the culture here—it’s a very interesting place and I suppose the overriding factor for me is that every time I come here I get treated like family. I just feel indebted because people have been so kind to me here that if I come here for work, I really want to shoot a really, really good story. We’re searching for absolute perfection, because I couldn’t leave this place and neither could the crew, looking at a shot when we got back and going, ‘We could have done that better.’ We take time to do it better, because we really want to show this place for what it is, and that is extraordinary.  



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