Edwina Bartholomew, otherwise known affectionately as ‘Eddy’ to the crew at Sunrise, is no stranger to adventure.
Scoring her first big break in the industry at just 20, the effervescent, personable Sunrise weather girl has had her fair share of wild experiences in her 10-year career as a journalist. When I do finally manage to catch her on the phone, she mentions casually that she’s flying over Perth, on route to Broome after a whirlwind work trip to the Kimberley and back.
Though she’d now describe herself as a Sydney-sider through and through, Edwina was born in South Australian mining town, Wyhalla, where she lived until she was five. From there, her family flitted back and forth between Japan, Malaysia and Sydney’s North Shore. Eventually settling in Wahroonga as a teenager and attending boarding school at Abbottsleigh, an early life of transit led Edwina to a deep love of travel and exploration. “I’m definitely used to moving around a little bit,” she laughs.
And moving around she does. I get the feeling that ‘home’ is many places for Edwina, and that her physical home, now located in Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs, is just one of many. In saying that, she’s quick to assure me she can’t really picture herself living anywhere else. Currently co-hosting her second season of 7’s Dancing with the Stars, along with her regular gig at Sunrise, the girl that originally started as the ‘intern’ really has worked her way up the ranks.
How did you get your first big break in the industry?
It’s a pretty funny story. In my last year of university, someone from Sunrise called up my lecturer and asked for candidates for a competition they were running to give away a job. He put my name forward, so I had to go down to Sydney and compete for a job, and there were 6 of us who were part of the competition. I won.
I had never really watched breakfast television before, and at that time didn’t really know who Kochie and Mel were – it was before the days that breakfast news really made the headlines. So there I was at age 20, working in the Sunrise office. It was crazy. I basically started out making coffee and reading scripts and helping Kochie find his joke of the day, and eventually I climbed the ranks to become the producer and stayed there for about two to three years initially.
I then went away and did my Masters in International Relations at Sydney University. While I was doing that I did freelance work for 2GB and then ended up going to work in radio, which was an amazing experience – I think it’s just the best possible experience that any emerging journalist can get. You’ve got to be across everything that’s happening in the news – it’s just that real buzz, the first buzz that I had of live news. It was amazing. That was sort of how I got my start.
Where do you live now?
I live in Woolhara now, near Centennial Park. It’s wonderful; we’ve basically got the whole park as our backyard. I live there with my boyfriend, and although I’m rarely there, it’s so lovely to come home.
What do you enjoy most about travelling, and what do you dislike the most about travelling a lot?
What I love about travelling is meeting new people and seeing incredible places, especially in Australia. We’ve just come back from a week in the Kimberley, where we travelled from Broome all the way up to the Bungle Bungles. It was amazing. We get to see parts of Australia that many people don’t ever get to see, and we get to travel every week doing it. I think sometimes you begin to take it for granted; we have so many different experiences each day that sometimes they don’t really stick with you, but now and again you see something that really makes you hold your breath and it makes you think ‘wow, I’m so lucky to do this’.
At Sunrise, we call it Tapas Travelling; it’s a tasting plate. You get to experience a little bit of each place at a time, and then leave. We’re rarely in a place for more than 24 hours – we have one night only most of the time, and so you try and fit as much as possible in that small amount of time. It’s like being the ultimate travel agent.
What I hate is the airports, and the waiting. You get through a lot of books and TV shows. I think the team and I have watched every episode of Seinfeld.
From doing a job like Sunrise, you get a distorted sense of how much you can do in a day. When I went on holidays with my boyfriend recently, I almost killed him, because the itinerary I set for our trip to Ireland basically circumnavigated the entire country and we saw things that Irish people hadn’t even seen in their lifetime. I have a, kind of, unfortunate ability to pack so much into a day that there’s very little time to breathe.
What is do you think is the most rewarding aspect of your job as a journalist?
Finding stories: it’s like, you go to this place and you meet this person who is a fantastic character. Recently, when we were up in the Northern Territory, we met this bloke called Phil O’Brian. He was just a knock about Australian guy, who had written a book and made a calendar and a movie, and who was just this real go-getter, with a Croc Dundee kind of alter ego. We had a wonderful couple of days getting to know him – he was just so entertaining, it was so much fun.
Working with the crew I work with as well – we are like one little travelling family. It’s been so great getting to know that team in a way that you don’t normally get to know your work colleagues. It’s almost like 24 hours a day, 7 days a week sometimes. You’d think tempers would fray, but generally we just have the best time. It’s like travelling around with your mates; there’s a really great sense of camaraderie.
What have been some of your ultimate career highlights?
I filed a number of stories for Sunday Night which were a definite highlight; I went over to Los Angeles and interviewed Andre Agassi. I also can’t forget travelling up to the top-end and going crocodile egg collecting hanging from a chopper.
Last year, over Christmas, Sunrise bought an ice-cream truck and we drove it all the way from Bundaberg to Geelong, serving ice cream every day. That was an unusual highlight – I wouldn’t really call it journalism, but it was lots of fun. Even this week, just flying over the Bungle Bungles. It’s surreal; there are so many amazing memories.
Then there have been sad stories as well – floods, cyclones, the Christchurch earthquake. I covered that, and it was a really emotional experience. I visited Christchurch a year after to see the recovery, and many things hadn’t changed, and lots of the destruction was still there. Those stories are compelling in a different way. There’s the sad and there’s funny. What’s lovely about Sunrise is that every time you go to a community now, it’s for a positive reason, whereas when I worked in news, it was always for a negative story. It’s really nice to be able to see smiles on people’s faces when you get there.
How does Sydney differ to some of the other cities you’ve visited?
It was interesting visiting New York recently because my boyfriend was adamant he could definitely live there. But flying back into Sydney, for me, just confirmed that I don’t think I ever could. It’s a just a different pace of life, and just the beauty of the city – I think it’s amazing. There is a definitely a certain snobbery to Sydney, but in saying that, I do think we have a lot to brag about. What an incredible location, what incredible national parks (like Ku-ring-gai National Park). We don’t have to try very hard. The food, the attitude of the people, and that relaxed atmosphere. I wouldn’t really want to live anywhere else, though I love Melbourne and I love the coffee: it’s a bit cold for me. I think Sydney’s just right; it strikes a really great balance. Flying back into Sydney over the harbour: that’s about as good as it gets.