In Daring to Fly, the ABC-TV’s News Breakfast co-host, Lisa Millar tells of her very happy childhood in the small Queensland rural town of Kilkivan and her experiences in journalism, including 10 years as the ABC’s overseas correspondent in Washington and later, London. From her start in journalism with The Gympie Times, newspapers in Brisbane and Townsville and ABC-TV’s parliament house bureau in Canberra, Lisa became familiar with covering confronting stories, work which was to take a toll on her emotional health. Daring to Fly covers some of life’s lows, including various difficulties in earlier times faced by her parents, Clarrie and Dorothy Millar. But there are many highlights: the family’s strong bond with Dorothy’s very supportive mother, Ida Cooper; Lisa and her siblings’ adventures with their father as he piloted their light aircraft around Queensland; her time as a student at Brisbane’s Indooroopilly High School, and later at the University of Queensland (even if she did feel like a country bumpkin when dressed in home-made floral shorts). Posted to the ABC’s Washington bureau after the 9/11 attacks, Lisa and her then husband sometimes found themselves and their Washington friends discussing possible escape routes in the event of another attack. In covering myriad stories that included bombings, suicide attacks, terrorist attacks, school shootings and natural disasters, among scenes of carnage and chaos, it is not surprising that she and her colleagues needed the assistance of trauma-counselling services. With dedicated media crews, Lisa often worked around the clock, bringing news of international events to Australian households, spending hours huddled in cars, waiting outside buildings in blizzards…editing stories perched on beds in cheap hotel rooms into the early hours and “…sharing more lukewarm room service food than I wanted to recall”. Throughout her memoir, Lisa emphasises the support, talents and work of her colleagues, and the good times with them and her other friends. But a very fitting end to this personal and entertaining story, is Lisa’s sentimental journey in tracking down the whereabouts of her family’s plane – eventually located not too far from her family’s farm in Kilkivan.
Geri Bryant-Badham is a Canberra-based freelance researcher and journalist.
Geri has substantial experience in advocacy, policy and organising and managing projects, including handling budgets and finances. She has worked in various offices for a small business, a university and in the parliamentary, political, government and non-government sectors.