Rochelle Martin
Fri, November 18, 2011 at 7:00
Stephanie Hunt in Coffs, Coffs Coast, Coffs Harbour, Graeme Singleton, Interesting, Interesting Person, MIPIK, Person, Peter Higgs, Rochelle Martin, The Most Interesting Person I Know

Peter Higgs tells me that Rochelle Martin is the most interesting person he knows on the Coffs Coast.  “She’s been a journalist, worked for the local TV mobs and travelled the world with Getaway,” Peter explains.  “I think she’s exactly what you are looking for.”  As a would-be writer and journo myself, I’m pretty excited.  Imagine working for Getaway, being paid to travel the world: that’s got to be the best gig ever!


The Best Job in the World

You fly business class to some of the most exotic destinations in the world, stay in hotels that are out of reach to most mere mortals and travel with a team of people you almost consider family: would you call this work?  Rochelle Martin does.  Up until last January, she was a producer on channel 9’s Getaway travel show.  “People ask me if this is the best job ever, and I would have to say yes,” says Rochelle as her 3 year old son Will crashes into the room wanting to show off his prowess at Angry Birds. 

Will is told gently to go and see Daddy, and Rochelle recalls her most amazing trips.  “We took the highest altitude train journey in the world from Tibet and then drove almost all the way to Everest Base Camp,” she exclaims.  “But, the most amazing experience was seeing the Gorillas in Rwanda.”  Rochelle explains that the research team back in Sydney would have researched all the locations and established a tight itinerary. As well as having creative control of the story, she coordinated pretty much everything on site.  “I was like a mother really,” she explains.  “Whenever something went wrong I was the go to person.  I did the scripting with the presenters, kept us on schedule, adapted the itinerary when flights were cancelled… And then I’d come home to log all the vision and script the story. It’s actually not a holiday.”  But you can tell she loved it.  Just then a blond mop of hair appears from around the corner.

“Will!  Get back here,” comes the voice of Aaron, Rochelle’s husband, from the playroom.  Little footsteps disappear down the hall as Rochelle explains that she had badgered the Getaway Executive Producer for 12 months before she got the job.  “I had almost given up when they called and offered me a 2-day freelance shoot covering the Roar ‘n Snore sleep over at the Melbourne Zoo,” Rochelle explains.  She did a couple of freelance shoots in Australia and then they offered her a 3 week shoot in the Maldives and Sri Lanka.  “I wasn’t sure I should take it,” says Rochelle, remembering that she was trying to juggle another full time job at the same time.   “But then Jules (Lund, Getaway presenter) said you’re crazy, they won’t offer this a second time.”  So she jumped at it and on her return she was offered a full time position, with the added bonus that she could operate from her home in Coffs Harbour when she wasn’t travelling.

Coffs Harbour is Rochelle’s old home town.  Born in Brisbane she moved to Coffs when she was 8.  When she left to study for her Bachelor of Communications at Charles Sturt University in Bathurst, she did not plan to go back – there was a whole world out there.  On graduation she headed to the Big Smoke.  Moving first to Melbourne where she freelanced in radio newsrooms, she landed her first permanent role in Sydney on channel 9’s Good Medicine, pulling together background on all those juicy medical stories.  Her boss at the show was also a mentor, and after she had been there a couple of years he suggested that what she needed next was some  news experience.  She spent several months news producing for Sky News in Sydney and juggled a couple of freelance jobs with NBN in Newcastle before being offered a full time position as a news reporter at NBN in Coffs Harbour.  “I didn’t really want to come home,” explains Rochelle.  “After coming from a small town living in the city was exciting and offered so many opportunity’s, I felt like moving home would be really limiting.”

She took the job, because the experience was too good to turn down, but intended to move on quickly.  Will comes screaming in again.  “Look at my new scooter!”

“I’ll take your scooter away if you don’t get back here,” Aaron’s voice means business.  Will disappears again and Rochelle explains that it was meeting Aaron that changed her plans for a quick escape from her old home town.  “We met after I’d been here about 6 months, and Aaron just wanted nothing to do with living in the city,” Rochelle explains.  So she stayed in Coffs where she gained a breadth of journalism experience and was promoted to Bureau Chief .  But after a couple of years her feet started to itch and she started campaigning to join Getaway or another ‘big’ show to help her shrug off small town life.  When she finally got the job on Getaway, Aaron was her number one supporter and when Will came along Aaron agreed to take on the role of stay at home Dad.  “He said you love your job and I don’t, so why not let me stay at home,” says Rochelle.  Juggling family and Getaway worked, partly because Aaron was so supportive and partly because the job was so flexible.

But all good things must come to an end.  Getaway had been on air for 20 years, and the ratings were starting to slip.  While Rochelle was on maternity leave with her second child, Luca, channel 9 moved the show to Saturday afternoon.  “Then came the group email that they were going to stop production indefinitely,” remembers Rochelle, the death knell had sounded on her six years in the world’s best job.  She is filling the void with freelance work at the moment, having just finished a 10 week contract producing No Leave No Life, the TV program designed to encourage us all to take leave and travel in Australia.  The production role has been primarily Sydney based and Rochelle says, “Commuting back and forth to Sydney for the last 10 weeks has made me appreciate the incredible flexibility I had with Getaway .”  Her next contract is as “post-producer” for the next season of channel 9’s The Block, which means she will be scripting and editing the show after the footage has been shot.  “I don’t think reality TV is where I’ll end up but it’s great experience.  It’s a huge learning curve being responsible for constructing an hour long long episode from so many hours of footage and this job allows me to work from home more of the time which is good while the boys are so young.”  Speak of the devil, here comes Will, with Aaron in tow.  “We’re going swimming.”  Will lets us in on where he’s going.

And where’s Mummy going next?  “I am trying to do more writing, and I’d like to travel with the boys,” Rochelle explains.  Her feet are still itchy, but the boys have changed things and Aaron is a stabilizing influence.  “I so admire his ability to be content, to just be happy with life as it is,” she sighs.  Yet despite the itchy feet and infectious travel bug Rochelle is surprisingly content to stay put in her old home town.   “Sometimes I just stand on Diggers Beach and I have to pinch myself,” says Rochelle.  “We live in the most beautiful place in the world.”  For the last six years Rochelle has been to the planet’s top travel destinations and held down the best job in the world:  it’s great to discover that in the end there’s no place like home!


Rochelle tells me that Graeme Singleton, the editor of The Advocate is the most interesting person she knows in Coffs.  “I worked for Graeme when I first started at NBN,” she explains.  “He’s extremely talented and really made a mark when he lived in Sydney, yet he’s decided to invest his talent locally.”  I happen to know that Rochelle is right about Graeme being interesting, as I’ve been working with him on getting this blog published in the Advocate.  So I’m pretty eager to find out the story behind the man!


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