Hills is always home

Mikaela Mahony

Mikaela Mahony

Just over three years ago I walked into Fairfax Media for the first time. I was 20-years-old. I had just finished two years at uni and I was ready to have a go at the ‘real world’. 

That week was one of the best of my life. North-west ACM editor Heloise Reece took me under her wing. She gave me a go, she trusted me to bring my own ideas to the table, she let me have a byline in the paper and she gave me the time of day.

She made sure I didn’t just spend a week in the office. She made sure I spent a week learning and finding out if journalism was the career I wanted to pursue. 

A couple of months later I found myself back at Fairfax for another week of work experience. I remember saying to my Mum – “Imagine getting paid to do what you love.” She replied - “Why don’t you ask Heloise what it would take to land a job at Fairfax?”

The guts to ask Heloise what it would take paid off. Ten months after I interned at Fairfax for the second time Heloise called me and told me a job was coming up that I would suit. On December 15, 2015, at 21-years-old, I became a paid employee at Fairfax Media. 

The past two years have had their ups and downs but I wouldn’t trade them for the world.

Some of my fondest memories at Fairfax are those stories I wrote for the News.  

Going back to my old schools and writing about the up-and-coming stars at Oakhill Drive Public School and Cherrybrook Technology High School meant a lot to me.

One of the first articles I wrote for the News was about HSC high achievers at Cherrybrook Technology High School. It gave me incredible satisfaction to be able to go back and share the stories of those who worked so hard to achieve the results they did at a school I have so much time and respect for.

Ironically one of the last stories I wrote for the News was about Oakhill Drive Public School pupil Nick Morakeas who was selected to represent the NSW football team at the Pacific School Games in early December. 

Sport has always been my passion so being about to share with the community some of the most extraordinary sporting achievements occurring in their backyard was a dream come true. 

This year we spent a great deal of time making sure we not only had a balance between sports but a balance between genders each week.

Having started playing AFL in January 2016 I was thrilled to be able to cover some of the Sydney AFL competition that fell within the Hills District. 

My own team, the Pennant Hills Demons finished fourth and the East Coast Eagles in their very first year finished fifth in women’s division 1. 

Another story I had the pleasure of sharing was of a young footballer from Dural by the name of Abbey Lemon. She had been selected to represent the Australian futsal team and needed to secure funds to get to the UK. 

I have fond memories of chatting to Abbey and her mum Kellie about her passion for the game, hardworking attitude and dedication.

I remember sharing a part of my own Australian journey with Abbey. Campaigning for Abbey to represent Australia felt so good.

When she went off to England in October 2016 I felt so proud to know how ever small I had contributed, I had. 

The talent in The Hills is just incredible. In The Hills we play every single sport there is and we have talented athletes from rugby league to gymnastics. 

Being able to bring to the community’s attention a passion for sport and especially non-generic female sports was so satisfying. I loved it.

I left Dural two years ago and now live in the inner west. The News was one of my last connections to the area. I will miss my time here: ‘You can take a girl out of The Hills’, but you can't take the The Hills out of the girl’.

I will miss you all and I will miss fighting for women’s sport to be on the front page. 

I will miss my editor Heloise Reece. Thank you for giving me a go. Thank you for giving a young journalist someone to aspire to be. Thank you for your friendship. I hope our paths meet at some point again. 

If you’re looking for me in 2018 I will be finishing my law degree at the University of Technology, Sydney and working as a paralegal.

I am sure at some point I will find myself crawling back to journalism or combining my law and journalism degree in some way.

Whether I follow on the path of journalism or head to a career in law, as Heloise once said: “we all need great media lawyers”.

  • Contact: mikaela.mahony@gmail.com.
This story Hills is always home first appeared on Hills News.