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Local Chick – Helen Pitt from Coogee

By Dan Hutton on December 24, 2018 in People

Counting on her own strength, by James Hutton

Sydney Morning Herald journalist and Coogee local Helen Pitt has just written a book about the Sydney Opera House called The House. She shares her local favourites with The Beast

How long have you lived here?

Nine years, I’m Sydney-born – from the mighty west originally – but moved to California for a decade and wanted to live by the beach when I came back.

Why do you live here?

I love the soothing sound of the tide, which is why I live three blocks from the beach. In summer I start each day with a sunrise swim at Coogee’s McIver’s Ladies Baths. It doesn’t get any better than that.

What’s your favourite beach?

Coogee of course, but I also love Maroubra’s Mahon Pool – not technically a beach but a favourite rocky outcrop and swim spot.

What’s your favourite eatery?

Barzura, for its food and view. I used to take Joe Bertony, the 96-year-old inventor of the Sydney Opera House’s erection arch, there and he
thinks the food here is better than in France – and the view reminded him of his native Corsica. I also love Bat Country for its food and drinks (the muffins are deadly and I love the Monday night roast).

Where do you like to have a drink?

The rooftop bar at the Pavilion is fabulous for a sundowner. I also love X74, my local café, and the Courtyard for coffee.

Best thing about the Eastern Suburbs?

The coastal walks, community and cafes. I love walking the streets and bumping into friends from my son’s school.

Worst thing about the Eastern Suburbs?

The lack of green space – I miss the bush, which is why I love the new walk from Maroubra to Malabar. It is a breath of fresh, green air. The light rail construction and traffic are maybe my least favourite things here. And parking tickets, of course.

Do you have a favourite sporting team?

I’m a reluctant team sports watcher, but if I must I’ll go for the Swans and the Roosters.

What music are you into at the moment?

I’m in an a cappella choir called Timbre Flaws, which rehearses at Kensington. We sang Nick Cave’s ‘Ship Song’ at my book launch at Harry Hartog’s in Bondi Junction.

Who is your favourite person?

My son, Liam. He’s a monosyllabic 16 year-old who says I do all the talking for him. But he was very supportive while I wrote my book – largely because of all the Uber Eats meals I let him order rather than having to cook.

What do you get up to on the weekends?

The past two years I’ve been focused on writing and editing my book in any spare moment I had. I’m looking forward to getting back to cycling and swimming more.

What do you do for work?

I’m a journalist for the Sydney Morning Herald, where I began my career 32 years ago. I’ve been an editor and writer for almost every section of the newspaper. But writing a book was my lifelong dream so I was thrilled to get great reviews and an interview on Richard Fidler’s Conversation Hour. Winning the 2018 Walkley Book award, the highest accolade in journalism, is a career highlight.

What’s your favourite thing about work?

Interviewing so many different interesting people and getting to write about them. And taking on powerful people like Alan Jones in the pages of the paper when he bullied Opera House CEO Louise Herron and spoke in favour of putting advertising for a horse race all over our national icon.

Do you have a favourite quote?

Il ne faut compter que sur ses propres forces”. It means, roughly, “You can only count on your own strength”.

Any other words of wisdom for readers of The Beast?

Go see the world. And take a copy of my book, The House, as the Opera House is an international brand more recognisable than Australia. It’s a great story everyone should know.