From Warkworth to ABC

A PROUD student of the now closed one teacher school at Warkworth, Wendy Borchers is now the proud recipient of an Australia Day honour becoming a Member of the Order of Australia (AM).

Taken completely aback byyesterday’s announcement, Wendy –living in retirement, well semi-retirement, at Tuncurry – wasn’t even sure which ‘gong’ she was receiving when The Argus contacted her.

HUMBLE: Hope Hardy and Member of the Order of Australia (AM) recipient Wendy Borchers.

“It’s overwhelming; I had no idea and all I can say is thank you to the person who nominated me and for those that supported the nomination,” she said.

In her citation for the award, it states: “For significant service to the film and television industry as a researcher,

producer and archivist and to the preservation of indigenous heritage.”

Not bad for someone who became involved in the television industry by chance but once in fell in love immediately and knew she had found her lifetime career.

Although born in Sydney, she moved with her parents Frank and May (nee Willis) Borchers to Warkworth in 1950.

She attended Warkworth Public School for all her primary schooling before catching the Jerrys Plains bus to study at Singleton High School.

Wendy described Warkworth schoolas a one teacher operation withabout 26 students coming from thesurrounding district mostly children from local farms.

Once she completed high school without gaining a high enough mark to enter teachers’ college, her father enrolled her at a business college in Newcastle.

“From there I worked for a woolbroker, which was only reallyinteresting once a month when the sales were held,” she said.

“I sort of fell in television withsomeone suggesting I apply for a job at Channel 3 in Newcastle working ontraffic.

“This involved typing schedules so in the interview they said I would be better as a P.A.

“I nodded and said yes that would be ideal not knowing what they were talking about.

“And, the next thing, I was appointed a production assistant and give the tools of the trade – a stop watch.”

Wendy said working in ‘live’ television was amazing and the moment shestarted the job she knew she was where she should be.

One of her bosses offered her aposition as a journalist but the general manager said no because “girls can’t be journalists; they get married and leave”.

It was 1966 so she decided to try her hand at the ABC and in 1967 became the first secretary of the morning radiocurrent affair program AM.

“At the time the ABC was buzzingwith new programs and ideas;This Day Tonight had just started itwas a wonderful time to be with the organisation,” she said.

She went onto to become a senior archivist, researcher and produce with the ABC, co-authored 50 Years: Aunty’s Jubilee – Celebrating 50 years of ABC TV in 2006 and worked as an archival researcher at the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies.

Wendy is also the recipient of the National Film and Sound Archive, Scholars and Artists in Residencefellowship 2008.

Holding fond memories of her Singleton childhood, she said hermaternal great uncle John Willisfounded The Singleton Argus.

Her family moved to Singleton when her father gained a position as a civil engineer working for the local shire.

“He had previously visited the district to see if it was feasible to build a dam on the Cockfighter (Wollombi Brook),” she said.

“The dam idea was dropped because of the impact it would have had on all the nearby farms – not something that worried the mining industry in later years.

“Dad bought a house built on a sand dune – part of the Warkworth sands and we had a farm that fronted the Cockfighter – it was a beautiful little farm, all gone now with the mining expansion.

“I do hope the mines aren’t allowed to destroy the Bulga community; so much of what I remember from Warkworth is now gone.”

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