Sally Obermeder – Falling In Love With Bondi
During the month The Beast caught up with Today Tonight fashion, beauty and entertainment reporter and Sydney Weekender presenter Sally Obermeder…
Where are you originally from?
I was born in Paddington and raised in Castle Hill. Eventually my parents moved to Mosman and when I was old enough I fled to the Eastern Suburbs.
And where did you land first?
I first stopped in Surry Hills for a couple of years and it was a shock to the system having come from the Hills and Mosman. I was unprepared for the reality of Surry Hills. This would be about 10 years ago now, so it was before it got all all the cool bars and stuff. It was still a little bit rough and tumble and it was a little bit of a shock. There were people doing drugs in the driveway and there was an S&M shop downstairs from my building and when Mum and Dad came to visit they were like, “Oh, I don’t think we’ll come here anymore. Maybe you should come and see us in Mosman.” It was really fun though. I really liked it and it but I couldn’t sleep, and that’s why I left eventually. I lived in an apartment block right near Taylor Square and so for a year I hardly slept.
Where did you move to then?
I went to Darling Point. It was the best. It was honestly incredible. I loved the apartment; I loved being so close to the water. It was like you were close to everything but you weren’t in anything. You could walk up to the Potts Point, you would walk to the Cross, you could walk to Paddington, you could walk to Double Bay but you were kind of on a little island. There is nothing in Darling Point. Unless you’re specifically going there you’re not going through there.
I thought people only lived in Darling Point because it was close to the train station?
Someone said to me that Darling Point’s a real ‘nanna’ place, like no?one’s supposed to live there unless they’re 60, but I really loved it.
I always wondered why Nicole Kidman bought in Darling Point when she’s too rich/cool to catch the train…
Nicole Kidman does catch a train, I’ve seen her on the train. There’s a bit of inside Darling Point knowledge for you.
With Tom. It was back in the old days. We don’t talk about that anymore.
And you’re living in Bondi these days?
I am living in Bondi. I went to Bondi kicking and screaming, hating the idea of it. I didn’t want to go but my husband Marcus kept saying to me, “You’ll love it, you’ll see, it’s going to be amazing.” I originally wanted to go to Rozelle. When we bought the apartment in Bondi we were tossing up between Rozelle and Bondi and I was saying, “Oh, this place in Rozelle’s amazing” and he said to me, “You will hate it, trust me, come summer time you will want to be in Bondi.” For the first six months I didn’t really like it. I thought it was a bit kind of dirty. There are more mattresses on the street in Bondi than in any other suburb in the world. But then summer came and I was like, “Oh my goodness, I get it. I totally understand now.” I don’t have to use the car; I don’t leave. The beach is on your doorstep, the mall’s right there and Bondi Road has got everything you could want. I fell in love with Bondi and so now Marcus teases me and says, “Well, wouldn’t you rather be in Rozelle?”
What do you love about living in Bondi?
What I love the best is Bondi Road, and I know this will sound a bit naff but I feel like Bondi Road is a tiny bit of New York. I really like how I can walk out my front door and get a massage or get my hair done or get groceries or go to the baker or get a mani/pedi or go to the day spa. And the bars and restaurants are all within walking distance.
What else do you love about living in the East?
I love the restaurants, Surry Hills in particular. I love Sonoma in Paddington. I’m obsessed with Sonoma sourdough. Do you know I wake up thinking about it?
Have you had Iggy’s?
I have had Iggy’s but I’m a faithful Sonoma person and Sonoma’s opening up in Bondi.
Is there anything you don’t like about living in the East?
The mattresses in Bondi definitely get on my nerves. When I first came to Bondi I couldn’t look down because it would irritate me. I hate the rubbish on the streets in Bondi. And I can’t stand the traffic on Bondi Road. I could rip my hair out some days.
Do you have any favourite local haunts?
My favourite places are Katipo on Bondi Road, the Blow Dry Boutique in Double Bay is a regular for me for getting my hair washed and blow-dried a couple of times a week, and I don’t mind a mani/pedi at USA Nails up in Bondi Junction. They’re my three weekly spots. I probably should venture out more, shouldn’t I?
Do you have a favourite meal at Katipo?
Katipo’s baked eggs and sausages with the really thin bread. That’s my absolute favourite.
Is it true that you worked in finance after graduating from university with a commerce degree?
How long did you do that for?
I did it for close to 10 years. I worked at Westpac for a while, and I worked in a small recruitment agency for a while, then I worked at Bankers Trust, BT Financial Group, as a superannuation fund analyst.
Why did you trade finance for television?
I loved finance but the whole time I was in finance I just loved entertainment, beauty and fashion way more. For my whole life I’ve been obsessed with celebrities and magazines. I wanted to do that when I left school but my mum and dad told me that it wasn’t a ‘real job’.
So it’s fair to say that these days you’re more interested in Tom Piotrowski’s ponytail than what he’s actually talking about?
Tom Piotrowski’s hair is looking very good, isn’t it? You can’t see it on camera though. He hides it very well.
Was there anything in particular that drove the career change?
I just couldn’t look at a spreadsheet any longer. And it had been my dream and I had always wanted to do it but wasn’t brave enough and eventually it got to the point where I just had to have a crack otherwise I was going to die wondering.
And I believe you’re a qualified personal trainer and pilates instructor too?
Yes, that’s correct.
How did that come about?
After I left my finance career and was trying to get into television I knew it would probably be years before I actually managed to get anything that paid any money, if I got anything at all. So I thought I needed a new career, one that I loved, that was slightly more flexible. I had a personal trainer for many years on a big weight loss journey that I’d been on and I had loved it, so I thought, “Maybe I’ll do that”. I was a trainer at Bayswater Fitness over in the Cross and I ran my own business. Then I branched out and did pilates over at Gold’s Gym in Surry Hills.
So that was the backup plan?
That was the backup plan but it was a very busy backup plan. I was doing it for many years even while I was at Sydney Weekender. I would get up at 5am to train clients and then I would drive out to Epping to go to Sydney Weekender at 9am and work all day and then drive back and train clients from 6pm to 10pm. I loved it until it eventually just got too much.
How did the Sydney Weekender gig come about?
It was my first gig. I had been doing some work experience over with The Great Outdoors and loved it and then I went across to do some more work experience at Sydney Weekender. I worked there for close to a year for free, just researching, working on both Weekender and another travel show they were pulling together at the time called Whitney’s Walkabout. It was my job to find all the destinations, organise it all and book all the flights. My boss, who I will be eternally grateful to, knew that I wanted to have a go on camera. So he f gave me a chance and said, “You’re okay. Maybe if the rest of the team dies and there’s no?one else available you can have the job.” I just persisted and stuck with it and eventually things got better and I got better.
Does Sydney Weekender host Mike Whitney perm his hair?
That is all natural, I can verify that.
Were you a fan of his in his cricketing days?
I knew Mike from the Toohey’s ad, that’s where I knew Mike from and I knew him from Who Dares Wins. Cricket’s not really my thing.
Do you have any other hidden talents?
I’m incredibly good with the labeller. Until you’ve seen my kitchen you’ve never seen labelling like this before. And I’m pretty wicked with a spreadsheet. I can only think if everything’s written down in a spreadsheet. I think that’s a hang up from my finance days.
How many television shows are you appearing on at the moment?
I’m the entertainment and lifestyle reporter on Today Tonight, I also do Sydney Weekender and I occasionally do some things for The Morning Show.
Do you have any other projects in the pipeline?
I’ve got something in the pipeline but I can’t say what it is. Isn’t that the standard answer?
Is it definitely going to happen?
I’d say it’s very probable. Would you like a percentage?
I’d say it’s like 85 to 90 per cent.
Do you have a career highlight thus far?
I would have to say there are a couple and they’re all for different reasons. Interviewing Jon Bon Jovi was definitely a big highlight
Was that on Bon Jovi’s recent tour?
Yeah, and I went backstage and saw all the gear and sat on the drum kit. As a child having gone to every single Bon Jovi concert you always imagine what it is like backstage. I saw all of Jon’s brushes and where he keeps all his hair stuff.
I also loved interviewing Beyonce; that was really amazing. She was just beautiful and she showed me how to do my eye make?up the way she does. I was like, “Is this me? Is Sally from Castle Hill really with Beyonce learning her make?up tricks?”
And I loved David Copperfield as well. That was really fun. He was really funny, and he brought me up on stage during his Vegas show and I was his assistant. You always think when you see a magic show that if you were really close you’d be able to see how they can do it, but I was right there and I tell you one minute there was some cards and the next minute there was a tarantula and I have no idea what happened. It was incredible.
Have you had any nightmare interviews?
Yes, yes, yes. I won’t mention any names but I’ve had somebody who kept us waiting for nearly six hours and then pretty much refused to answer any questions. It was pointless. And it was a Sunday.
Do you have any role models? Working as an entertainment reporter, is like Dicky Wilkins a role model of yours?
Richard, are you kidding? The guy’s a legend. I grew up watching Richard Wilkins. I was at home going, “That guy’s got the coolest job; I want that job.” Sometimes when I see him I still think, “Far out, there’s Richard Wilkins!”
You’re obviously a presenter on Sydney Weekender; what does your ideal weekend in Sydney involve?
The papers, sun baking on my balcony, coffee with girlfriends, a manicure and pedicure, and a nanna nap.
What about outside of Sydney? Where is your favourite holiday destination?
Locally in NSW I love Kiama. I love going down the coast and just getting away from everything. Otherwise Noosa, I love Noosa. I just find it beautiful. Maybe that’s where I’ll retire one day.
Do you support any charities?
Yes. I work with the Sydney Children’s Hospital for Gold Week. That’s really important to me; I love that.
That’s in May, isn’t it?
It is in May, yes. And I’ve done some work for the Red Cross before too. I’m doing some work as well with the Nelune Foundation. They do work with cancer patients, which is really good. I’m supporting them. I’m actually going to go and host their ‘fashions on the field’ at the races on Saturday.
Do you have any advice for youngsters looking to get into television and the media?
I think if you want to do it make sure you love it because it’s not as glamorous as maybe it looks on the outside. I certainly don’t get my hair and make?up done every day and sip champagne at my desk.
Should they be expecting to put in a year of unpaid work?
You should be expecting to put in many years of unpaid work. That is just absolutely the norm. Then when you get paid it’s not much more than being unpaid.
You mentioned your husband Marcus earlier; how did you guys meet?
I was supposed to be set up with Marcus’s best friend, so it was a set up that went wrong that went right.
How long have you been married for?
Ten years this June.
In an ideal world, what does the future hold for Sally Obermeder?
Ideally more of the same. I love this job; it’s really satisfying. It is my dream job and I would just hope to get better at it and do more of it, and get bigger and better interviews. There are a few on my list that I haven’t quite gotten across the line yet so I’ve got a little hit list of interviews I still want to do.
Who is on the hit list?
Madonna’s on the hit list, and Meryl Streep, she’s on the hit list. And Victoria and David Beckham – ideally separately. I don’t need Victoria cramping my style!