• Michelle Meehan

Local Experts Provide Inspiration


The Hunter has a solid pedigree of reality television stardom, from homegrown winners on The Block, MasterChef and Australia’s Next Top Model to contestants on everything from Big Brother to Farmer Wantsa Wife. Now the region itself has become the star of the show, with a new lifestyle program on 9 Newcastle showcasing its properties, places and people.

Created by NBN Productions, Location... Lifestyle... Living features prominent Novocastrians and Hunter landmarks, exploring everything from open homes and tradie tips to styling suggestions and a star suburb of the week. The show debuted on 9 Newcastle on August 25 and airs each Saturday at 12.30pm.

Longtime NBN producer Kerryn Scully was one of the creative minds behind the concept and said Newcastle and the Hunter were ideally suited to this style of show.

“I think as well as having stunning and scenic locations, Newcastle and up to the Hunter really does have so much to offer,” she said.

“And on our journey doing this, we have come across many interesting places that I didn't even know about, as well as a lot of interesting people who are doing amazing things in our community.

“The name (for the show) came to me at 3 o'clock in the morning, and it really suggested it's a lifestyle show. It explores everything including open homes, new developments, staging, tradie tips, tourist spots, events, gardening and a star suburb of the week where we chat to a celebrity about why they love living there and what that suburb has to offer.

“To me, it has something for everyone really and being born and bred a Novocastrian I feel pretty proud to be able to showcase Newcastle in this way.”

With lifestyle programming among the hottest tickets on television – from the real-life renovation dramas of The Block and Selling Houses Australia to one of the most iconic Australian stalwarts of the genre Better Homes and Gardens – audiences’ appetites for home and real estate-themed reality TV seems almost insatiable.

Kerryn said while audiences are in part looking for ideas and inspiration for their own homes, the curiosity factor of getting a glimpse behind the scenes – whether in a well-known personality’s home or a high-end property that’s on the market – is also a major motivating factor.

“People really love looking in other people’s homes; they really find that interesting, whether it be that they get ideas or love to see what other people are doing and the show definitely taps into that,” she said. “People love real estate so much, it’s very much in vogue at the moment, and we get to show some really amazing open homes.

“We’ve also got a really good response to having a celebrity each week, which is nice. People like to see that human side of people and what they’re doing in their everyday life.”

Local personalities featured as part of the star suburb of the week segment so far have included inspirational Paralympian Kurt Fearnley (Hamilton), daredevil Red Bull Air Race pilot Matt Hall (Merewether) and a host of NBN newsreaders.

Giving us a glimpse into their lives each week is another of Newcastle’s well-known faces and one of the co-hosts of Location... Lifestyle... Living, ex-Screaming Jets drummer turned auctioneer Craig Rosevear.

After keeping the beat for the popular Australian rock band for eight years during their heyday in the 1990's, Craig moved to the US to continue his music career before returning to Newcastle in 2005 to set up Rosies’s School of Rock, focusing on performance and band coaching for kids.

But a keen interest in real estate, inspired by a history of property investment, saw Craig’s career take an unexpected turn in 2017, with former rocker swapping his drumsticks for an auctioneer’s gavel. Having sold a number of his own investment properties himself for fun over the years, Craig eventually decided to complete his real estate agent’s license. Not long before he finished, he attended an auction night with a mate and was struck by the skills of one of Australia’s leading auctioneers Damien Cooley, who is also well known from his work on the TV series The Block.

“I went to the auction, and I’m like ‘Wow, that guy's amazing, like I want to do that, be an auctioneer’,” Craig said.

“So at the end of the auction I went up to him, and I said, ‘Hey Damien, I'm Craig. I love what you do. How do I get to do that?’ And he looks at me, and he goes, ‘Cut your hair, shave off your goatee, take those earrings out, take your nose ring out, buy a blue suit and come back and see me in two weeks’.

“So sure enough, in two weeks’ time I did all that and looked completely different – people didn’t even recognise me walking down the street, I hadn’t had short hair for 20 years. But then I came back and Damien’s like, ‘So you’re serious?’ and he started giving me some tips every couple of weeks when he came back up to Newcastle from Sydney to do the auctions.”

At Damien’s suggestion Craig entered the Real Estate Institute of NSW Novice Auctioneers Competition, and after winning the Newcastle heat, he started working for Cooley Auctions. The rest, as they say, is history, with his industry know-how, rock profile and affable personality putting Craig at the top of the list when NBN Productions went looking for potential co-hosts for Location... Lifestyle... Living.

“They were just looking, I guess, for someone a bit fresh, who wasn't a standard real estate agent sort of person, someone who could connect a lot of people to a property-based show but not in a sales way, just in a human interest way, which is what I love to do, I love to meet new people,” Craig said.

“I feel very comfortable in front of a crowd, and I’ve done lots of stuff in front of the camera, whether it be music based, or videos and that sort of stuff, it doesn't faze me.

“No part of the show seems like a job; it’s just like what I do anyway, talking to people. That’s pretty easy.

“And I think that’s one of the strengths of the show. It doesn't appear to be like an infomercial or anything like that where people are reading the lines because we're just really having a conversation, everyone's got a story about how they got to where they are.

“I love meeting people; I love hearing their stories, I love giving them a platform to be able to share their stories.

“I also love going to look at the houses for sale; it’s like a discovery. A lot of people drive past houses, and they're like, ‘I wonder what's inside, I wonder who owns that?’, and we have that opportunity now to go in and see what's in there.

“It’s fun from that perspective, and I think it's a good opportunity to learn things. We interview people, and you ask them why do they live there, how did they get to where they are, why they do the job they do. To me, that’s really interesting.

”Aside from introducing high profile locals and seeing inside some of the region’s most sought-after properties, the show also offers a wealth of useful tips for viewers on everything from staging your home for sale to how to save more on your energy bills.

Top Photo: Craig Rosevear and Naomi Findlay. Above: The crew behind the scenes

Craig even put his auctioneer’s skills to use in a practical behind-the-scenes segment on what really goes on when you sell your house under the hammer.

“The benefits of an auction are that it's out in front of everybody, it's very transparent, people can see what other people are happy to spend, and it also gives the people who own the home the opportunity to see where the market is and then as the decision maker, if they want to accept that offer or not,” he said.

“Because I’ve bought and sold at auction many times myself I kind of can understand what it’s like being on both sides of the equation. So, that empathy is important I think.

“For most people it’s the biggest transaction of their life, so you can’t act like it's just another auction, it’s a significant event in people’s lives, selling a family home that your kids might have grown up in and then buying a home where you want your kids to grow up, a lot of that emotion is connected with the transactions.

“But you’re not just hearing this advice on the show from someone from Sydney or Melbourne who you’ve never known, you’re hearing advice from people who you probably will walk past in the street, people that you see or know of regularly and I think that’s important.”

Another person with plenty of industry know-how to share is Craig’s co-host on the show, Naomi Findlay. A seasoned renovator who has made a successful career out of sharing her renovation and home staging knowledge with others across Australia and around the world, Naomi is also a proud Novocastrian who loves showcasing her hometown to a wider television audience.

“It’s local people talking about local people, local property and local things, which I think is probably the appeal for Novocastrians,” she said.

“We have so much awesomeness in this region, and we’re truly passionate about its awesomeness. And the viewers love it because they’re really proud of where we live.

“It also has that behind-the-scenes glimpse, it shows the city we love and the region we love and at the same time, gives you a sneak peek into different things.

“I was so lucky to grow up in Newcastle, and even after travelling the world I always intended on moving back home to enjoy the best of everything.

Location... Lifestyle... Living is the TV show that will inspire Australians to come and see this beautiful city for its amazing beaches, quirky cafes and the gorgeous Hunter Valley region.

”Being on camera isn’t a new experience for the Wallsend businesswoman, however, who caught the eye of the NBN Productions team via her YouTube based broadcast, The Reno Show.

And although making the switch from her starring in her own production to the reality of working with a commercial television crew might sound daunting, Naomi has taken it all in her very professional stride.

“To be honest I don't think about [being on camera] much,” she said.

“Some may say it is an asset; I say at times it’s a challenge, in that I'm very congruent to who I am all the time. So it was just like I’m just here doing what I love with people that are really cool. And if anything it was fun; it is fun and exciting to create Location... Lifestyle... Living.

“I get to meet really amazing people that are doing amazing things, or that have done amazing things or that are bringing things to the Hunter and I literally just chat with them – none of it is scripted. I get to ask them all about the thing that they love, and I think that's what makes it really fun, it’s not about delivering lines, it’s about being real and helping show the other really cool people we have in our community.

“It's been really exciting, it’s reconnecting me with how amazing the place we live in really is, and I feel quite privileged that I get to be part of something that’s showcasing this city.”

Making the show an even more familiar experience for Naomi are the segments filmed by resident tradie Rowan Howard, who is one of her regular expert guests on The Reno Show. More familiar faces are on offer for viewers of Location... Lifestyle... Living as well, with the Newcastle husband and wife team of Kim and Chris Elliott, who took part in the 2016 series of The Block, on hand to offer weekly styling and staging tips. Finding the right mix of presenters was crucial to the show’s success, according to its creator.

“Craig is very good with people, and he’s very relatable,” Kerryn said.

“I wanted to have a Novocastrian to do the hosting, I knew Craig, and I had him in mind from the start before it was even in the pilot stage. Naomi, we came across through her YouTube channel, and she’s been amazing.

“I think the response to the show has been so positive and I guess the key to that along with a great crew has been the presenters. They’re very natural and genuine, and they’ve really got a knack to make those around them feel comfortable in an often daunting situation, and viewers can really relate to that.

“If you don't work in TV or you’ve never been around it, and you come on this show it can be quite overwhelming, and Naomi and Craig are really good at making them feel comfortable and for getting the best out of them. They’re very good at letting that conversation flow and doing the best segment we possibly can.

“Kim and Chris bring that element of styling to it, and they also have a lot of fun with it as well.

“Staging, styling and tips for your home have really in the last year come into play to sell your house, and it's now all about the staging and how it looks so that people see it and fall in love with it.

“And Kim and Chris having been on The Block is good – just to give it that little bit of profile. They've been fantastic, they’re just a lot of fun, and they’re really good at what they do.

“The response to the show has been really positive; people are loving it.

“It goes to air on 9 Newcastle, but after it goes to air it’s also on our website (9Now), so we're now having international people seeing it and loving it. It definitely is putting Newcastle out there, which is great and I’m really excited about how much people have really responded to it.”

Location... Lifestyle... Living goes to air on 9 Newcastle every Saturday at 12.30pm. The final episode of season one will be broadcast on Saturday, October 27.

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