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Audi Australia recently invited me to their Audi Women’s Driving Experience Day at Mount Cotton in Brisbane, where I had a blast and the absolute pleasure of spending the day driving with a group of ladies including… THE Lisa Wilkinson, television journalist, Audi Ambassador and presenter on The Project.

Lisa very kindly agreed to be interviewed and I got to ask her all about family, cars and Mother's Day!

I hope you have your feet up and a coffee in your hand! Enjoy this, because I certainly did!!!

In case you missed it:

Lisa described her love of driving from a very young age, and how she was desperate to get her license, so she saved up to buy her first car by working in a shoe store in Campbelltown in Sydney's western suburbs.

And the day she turned sixteen years and nine months (which was the age you could apply for your license at the time) Lisa got her license and loved the feeling of freedom it gave her to get out on the open roads, in her very own car, a Holden Gemini SLR Coupe in a particularly nasty shade of poo brown!! She laughed about how the colour faded in the sun however she didn't care, she loved the freedom and independence it gave her and she can still remember her personalised number plates LW 172.

A feeling I am sure a lot of us can associate with.

What inspired Lisa Wilkinson's career as a journalist?

I have always been interested in newspapers and current affairs, ever since my early high school years, I would read the newspapers every day. Watch A Current Affair hosted by Mike Willersee and This Day Tonight by Bill Peachey and Four Corners, being naturally interested in the way the world and the news cycle works.

Mike Willersee presenting A Current Affair
Mike Willersee presenting A Current Affair

I still have a project book from year eight at high school where I had to dissect a news article from that day's newspaper, so I obviously got it from a very young age.

Bill Peaches on This Day Tonight
Bill Peaches on This Day Tonight

I was also an avid Dolly Magazine reader in my early teenage years and I still have every single copy I ever bought. I knew I had to get a cadetship to have a proper career in Journalism but I also had this overwhelming desire to travel. SO I decided I would finish year twelve and hopefully get a really good pass, then go and do a year's shorthand typing course, work for a year, save up and then nick off to Europe for a couple of years with a group of girlfriends that I went through school with.

That plan worked to a point, I got an okay pass in year twelve and went to business college, then the very first day I looked for a job, under the letter ‘D' in the ‘Women and Girls' employment section of the Sydney Morning Herald, I found a tiny little three line advert that said Dolly Magazine is looking for a secretary/editorial assistant/girl Friday, who is prepared to do absolutely anything. Phone Cathy on 6993622.

So I called Cathy that day and I was one of apparently 250 girls that did the same thing and clearly had the same dreams and passion for Dolly as I had, somehow I got the job and from that first day I walked into the office I knew what I wanted to do. Six months after that I got a cadetship at Dolly, six months after that the editor left and the deputy editor became the editor and somehow I became deputy editor.

Then a year after that, the new editor left to do a trip around Europe ironically enough and I had to wave off my girlfriends to travel Europe as well because I figured the kinds of opportunities I was being given might not always be around but I figured Europe wasn't going anywhere and I would get to that eventually! I have been there many times now! It was just that I was lucky and I found my passion early.

How many children does Lisa Wilkinson have and how old are they?

Three, a 25, 23 and 21-year-old who are all driving themselves now.

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Well, that was one I never could have imagined…completely blown away and humbled today to receive an Honorary Doctorate Of Letters from The University Of Wollongong, just a few kilometres from the hospital where I was born, and my grandparents’ house where I spent so many of my school holidays growing up. My beautiful grandfather, William Charles Wilkinson, who, 101 years ago tonight fought in the bloody WW1 Anzac Day battle of Villers Bretonneux in France, would have been so incredibly proud. As am I. And huge congrats to all the wonderful graduating students I met and addressed today. It was an absolute honour.👩‍🎓 @uow #UniversityOfWollongong #LestWeForget #AnzacDay #WW1 #Wollongong #TheGong

A post shared by Lisa Wilkinson (@lisa_wilkinson) on

Did Lisa Wilkinson work while her children were young?

I gave up full-time work when I was just about to have my second child. So I had been editing Cleo for the previous ten years and as much as I loved what I was doing and we had just reached that ten-year mark and I discovered that I was pregnant I thought, ‘I can do this job for another ten years, but my babies won't always be babies'.

Cleo magazine

So I decided to give up full-time editing and bizarrely it was not long after that when I was on 12 months' maternity leave and I got a call from the guy who had just started up Foxtel in Australia and he wanted to do new incarnation of a show I had watched as a little kid because my mother watched it called Beauty and the Beast, which was pretty much a day time women's programme, where one man would read out women's letters and often dilemmas from viewers and four women got to look down the barrel of a camera and give their advice and opinions.

Beauty and the Beast

What I loved about it was really the only place in Australia where you got women of all ages, shapes, sizes, races, ethnicities, belief systems and political persuasions to have their say. Even though I have been interviewed many, many times as the editor of Dolly and then as the editor of Cleo I'd never looked down the barrel of a camera to an audience. I just thought, ah well I'm on maternity leave, I'll give this a go, it's a six-week run, one day I can say I worked on a TV show which was not something I was ever heading towards I had no ambition in that direction at all.

We did it for six weeks and it was incredibly popular and then they called us back for another series. By which time I had got to the end of my 12-month maternity leave, we wanted more babies and I liked the idea of mixing it up. So I could largely set my own rules and hours and fit everything around kids and child care and my husband does lots of different things. So I had this lovely mix of being there for my kids but also mentally still exercising my brain but doing it on my terms. I am very lucky that I work in an industry where that was possible. But I was also prepared to challenge myself and I think sometimes it's important if you want to keep growing, that you challenge yourself. Do things you've never done before and you may screw up horribly, but you won't die wondering, and I never want to die wondering!

What do Lisa Wilkinson's children say about her work, career and that she is a working mum?

They have never known anything else, so to them, that's just normal and most of the kids they went to school with had working mums as well. When I was doing breakfast time TV it sometimes meant I was away or I had to go to bed, but I tried to make sure that work didn't get in the way of their needs and being present. Although in many ways breakfast TV worked brilliantly because I was never a big fan of mornings, you know with the kids, I find them very mechanical, it's about where are the missing socks, have they packed their lunch, is their homework in their bag, you know it's the routine of morning. Whereas after school they're more talkative, there's homework you can help them with.

You can stand around making dinner together and talk through the day and I always found with the kids when they were younger, if you were busy doing something else like making dinner or washing up, like driving. You can have conversations that don't have eye to eye contact, so if you are quite smart about it you can have quite honest conversations where they don't feel confronted.

Thank you for that parenting tip Lisa!

What was Lisa Wilkinson's family car while her children were growing up?

I had an SUV because I needed seven-seats, that was good for a long time, it was just really practical. But once I wasn't driving the kids around any more and their friends and all the detritus that comes with school band and camp and all of that. I was so keen to get into a smaller, sexier, totally impractical car. I've been through that phase and I loved it. Now I've got a four seater, dead sexy Audi A7 and I've got room to still stransport stuff if I need to but I feel more compact!

There is an end to carrying the kitchen sink!!

Audi A7 Sportback.
Audi A7 Sportback.

Did Lisa Wilkinson's family SUV have a name?

Yes, Jezabel! And my husband's car was Norman.

What car did Lisa Wilkinson's parents have when she was growing up?

We had a Kingswood and then we were a Commodore family because my Dad always had a company car. So I grew up in the seventies always sitting in the back of a Kingswood and have many happy memories of travelling in it with my family.

Holden Kingswood
Holden Kingswood

What are Lisa Wilkinson's favourite songs to listen to when driving alone in her car?

I like not having to think when I get in the car, so I am very happy with the programming that comes through from Smooth FM, and also have very specific need when it comes to my Audis and it is a complete indulgence and it started when I was doing breakfast television and it is still really convenient now, and I recommend it to anyone if they can stretch the bank balance for it… I have a TV in my Audi and I LOVE it! And I am addicted to it! While I am driving I get the sound and when I am stopped because of traffic or a stop sign, I am not frustrated because the picture comes up.

Audi A7 Sportback interior
One of these screens can be used as a TV!

So often after school and I was trying to catch up on the news and the 6 o'clock news would be on. I would be on a 15km trip picking up the kids from some God forsaken sporting ground somewhere but I could still hear what was making the news. I have just never got out of that very luxurious habit!

What do Lisa Wilkinson's kids say about her driving?

They think I'm a very good driver actually. Originally with all three kids, we got them driving lessons and we helped them rack up the 4723 hours or whatever it is you need now to get your L-plates and then your P-plates.

One of the funniest things that ever happened when we were teaching our kids, I was in the passenger seat and my daughter had had two lessons with my husband and I adore my husband but there are some things we just don't agree on! I discovered there was one particular thing we didn't agree on, this day my daughter Billie sat in driver's seat and she had to back out of the driveway and she had her right foot on the accelerator and her left foot on the brake. I looked over and I said Darling what are you doing you can't go anywhere driving like that? And she said no Dad said that's the way you drive. I said Darling he didn't say that. She said Dad said my left foot is to be on the brake and my right foot is to be on the accelerator!! We had this huge argument but at the back of my mind, I was thinking maybe is just one of these things Pete and I just disagree about!

Perhaps it was just her nervousness but I waited a long time before I got back in the car because for both of us it was a very traumatic experience. No matter how hard I tried to tell her ‘that isn't how you drive darling'. It became about Dad getting it wrong, AGAIN!!

If Lisa Wilkinson could wake up on Mother's Day with any car, what would it be?

Probably the R8! Having driven it, that was fun! That felt really good!

Audi R8
Audi R8

What does Mother's Day look like for Lisa Wilkinson?

I'll be hosting the Sunday Project on Mother's Day, so I kind of miss out on Mother's Day. That's okay, I feel very blessed to even be able to call myself a mother and to have three such incredible kids. They do enough to give me joy the other 364 days of the year. So I never take for granted that I was lucky enough to have three very healthy kids.

The Sunday Project on Channel 10
The Sunday Project on Channel 10
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