Robyn at Hornsun-IMG_5214

Robyn Mundy, 2017, at an old trapper’s hut, Hornsund, Spitsbergen.


For those who live in Australia, ABC Radio presenter Richard Fidler is a household name. His regular 50-minute programs Conversations with Richard Fidler have been an Aussie institution since 2006. As the blurb goes, Conversations with Richard Fidler draws you deeper into the life story of someone you may, or may not, have heard about – someone who has seen and done amazing things.

Last week I was Richard’s guest, which just goes to show that his selection of life stories really does include those someones you’ve never heard of. What impressed me—apart from Richard, who is as warm and vivacious in person as he sounds on radio—was the research and preparation that went into the interview. Leading up to the program I spent a couple of hefty phone sessions—two and a half hours—with Richard’s production assistant who eked out countless details of my life: highlights, difficult times, memories I rarely speak of. I nattered on while Nicola, with the occasional oh, wow, or grimace or, what year was this? tapped my history onto her computer.

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Auster Emperor Penguin Rookery, 2008

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MV Polar Pioneer in Keyser Franz Joseph Fjord, East Greenland, 2017

Thankfully, all that was winnowed down to a manageable interview. I think, at least I hope, those in my life know me as actively willing to let other people shine (one great reservation I have about the nature of social media is the relentless ME focus), so it felt decidedly weird and initially unnerving to have the focus redirected. Conversations aired live. We talked about Antarctica, about a year spent working with emperor penguins on the sea ice. We never got to speak about the guiding I do for Aurora Expeditions aboard the ice-strengthened ship Polar Pioneer, which takes me to the top and bottom of the world for several months of each year; or my ongoing pride in Aurora, the innovation of  two dynamic Australian adventurers Greg and Margaret Mortimer. I wish I could have shared a few gobsmacking, high-latitude moments, some of them life-shaping, that our shipboard adventurers take away with them.

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Maatsuyker Island off the south-west corner of Tasmania, 2017.

We spoke about living remotely on wild Maatsuyker Island but never delved into my recent novel set on Maatsuyker, and probably not by accident. I suspect Richard steers away from well-worn angles of conversation. But what has been so heartening in the days following Conversations, is the positive, heartfelt feedback I’ve received from those who regularly listen to the program, or caught our Conversation while in the car or sitting at an airport, who say they learned things they never imagined about my life—hard moments as well as shiny ones—that they found fascinating. Perhaps all down to the magic Richard Fidler consistently wields on his show. If you’re inclined to tune in to the podcast, or others in Conversations, click here.


18 thoughts on “Conversations

  1. Dear Robyn
    What a story! I love listening to Richard Fidler, always interesting conversations, and yours was wonderful. Beautifully told — from the Emperor penguins (fascinating!) to spasmodic dysphonia (heart-string tugging), simple and fun childhood holidays to life on wild Maatsuyker Island — a word picture of a wholehearted life.
    Having just made the move from an urban to a regional environment (so many stars in the night sky here!), I also love your observation about finding a part of yourself that may have been hidden in that city life. I’m looking forward to exploring this more in my new life.
    Thank you Robyn, for sharing your story. I’m so happy that you have your voice back! 😊💕


    • Hi Colleen, Thanks so much for tuning into Fidler, and for finding it interesting. I think it says as much or more about RF as an interviewer–he really has a knack for honing in on the less spoken about parts of life and leaving aside the things you might expect him to concentrate on. I’m really happy you enjoyed it. 🙂


  2. Wow Robyn,
    What an amazing interview. I have always admired you and loved listening to you speak as you weave your imagination into stories – you are so articulate! I had no idea about the fact that you had spasmodic dysphonia – what a journey to have to travel!
    So pleased I heard your story! Thanks and see you soon!


    • Hi Ann, thank you! Articulate is not a word I’d ever apply to myself so it makes me feel super good to hear you say that, and that you tuned in to Richard Fidler. Looking forward to a catch up. x


      • Another thing I have been dwelling on: I love hearing you laugh because you have a lovely, genuine laugh – cool voice!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Dear Robyn, I always enjoy Richard’s interviews – I find it so uplifting that there are very many not-so-ordinary “ordinary” Aussies out there. So happy that his multitude of listeners have had the opportunity to learn more about your extraordinary life. Thanks for sharing with us.


    • Hi Marg, Thank you! It’s always good when the topic turns to our beloved Maatsuyker. FYI the new caretakers have recently flown in. They are wonderful, and the youngest couple yet. There’s been a run of stormy weather and big 7-metre swells. I’m imagining how utterly gob-smacked they must be to wake up to that windswept wonder.


  4. Congratulations on a great interview, Robyn. I was actually mopping the kitchen floor when I heard your interview on the radio, and never has a kitchen floor taken so long to mop! You were brilliant, and I felt so very proud of you.


    • Love it! And especially chuffed to be the cause of a sparkling clean floor :-). On Richard Fidler’s website I read of a time when a listener called in to complain about the show, saying he’d been stuck listening in his car and missed an appointment. Thanks for being you, Marlish.


  5. Thank you, Robyn. The interview was fascinating. Your enthusiasm for wild places and things resonated strongly with me as, luckily, I have had a similar life. I’ve just got your books and look forward to reading them. Keep wandering, wondering, writing and sharing. Tony S


    • Thank you, Tony, fellow wanderer. I appreciate you taking the time to send in a comment AND for supporting Australian literature. Good on you!


    • Oh, Lynne. Thanks for listening in and your kind words. I feel honoured that something about the story connected with you at that level …


  6. I love Richard Fidler, and I listen to most of his shows (not live, but on podcast while I walk the dogs). I’ll definitely be listening to this soon—I can’t wait, Robyn! 🙂


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