ABC Perth Saturday Breakfast: Have you met someone famous on your travels?

One of the wonderful things about any travel is the discovery.  From a little café in your neighbouring suburb to being in the right place at the right time for an event while you’re overseas.  All travel presents opportunities for excitement, it may even be on the pool lounge or restaurant table right next to you.

We thought for Hidden Treasures on ABC Perth Saturday Breakfast we’d talk about taking your travel experience to the next level by meeting someone famous. We also took calls from listeners on their encounters and tips on how to behave when you see or meet a famous person. 

Our great leg spinner, Shane Warne, once said that he got irritated if he saw someone sneak a photo but he never said no to anyone who asked for a photo.

Have you ever had the courage to speak to someone famous?

When we did Hidden Treasures about the suburb of Highgate, I saw Dennis Cometti sitting in a café.  I walked up to him and said from an appropriate distance, “Excuse me Mr Cometti, could I please have a minute of your time?”. 

I explained who I was, abbreviating my life story and not mentioning Narrogin once, and asked if I could mention him on Hidden Treasures and perhaps take a pic.  Maybe it was my approach, maybe it was his character, but it was a wonderful conversation which I really valued.

I’ve got a few examples of where I’ve met people and more than that, they’re examples of meeting people in different places.

  • Terry Alderman: On a flight to Bali and I shared my red frogs with him as his ears were playing up a bit.  I played it cool and wanted to let him know how I felt in 1989 listening late at night on the radio as he took all those wickets in England but I didn’t, I just shared my lollies.
  • Visiting the Vatican and timing it as Pope John Paul II came out for a test drive of the new Pope-mobile.  I was within three metres of one of the holiest men in the world and top of the pops for his religion.  We didn’t talk but I didn’t expect when I went to Rome that I would see the Pope and have photos to prove it.
  • At a resort in Phuket over the course of a few days by the pool and the swim up bar I got chatty with footy players Tony Shaw and Heath Shaw who, as a big family group, were happy to chat.  I found they were interested in my stories, it didn’t have to be about them.  I think the trick with these sort of encounters is taking the opportunity to retrieve a badly thrown ball and throw it back accurately and be invited to join in.

I always tell my kids to use every minute and take every opportunity, like this one with Mark!

Matilda, Tom and Mark enjoying a day at the beach
  • This is one of Tom’s greatest stories but he’s hearing the truth for the first time this morning. We were travelling together to report on the opening of one of Bali’s most incredible resorts as guests of the resort.  It wasn’t busy so it was odd when a man sat on the pool lounge next to us, put together a steam punk cigar holder and started chuffing right next to us.  What happened next was remarkable. It was Wouter Adrianus Van Loon, the Netherlands greatest scammer! If you want to know more you’ll need to send me a message!
  • For those of us who love London, there’s a lot to love.  But.  On a wintry day I was waiting to cross the road and remarked to my wife Rebecca, “It’s all so grey.  The sky is grey.  The buildings are grey.  The road is grey.”  I hear a noise of disgust, look across and see a look of disgust on the face of … Joanna Lumley.
  • Matilda and I were on the Abrolhos Islands and had just finished exploring the waters of Turtle Bay on East Wallabi Island.  We were walking along the beach looking for flotsam and jetsam (remember what that is?) when we heard a call for help.  We quickly made our way to where a couple of jet skis and their riders were stuck fast on the beach.  Who was one of the riders and who allowed me to write about it in a story for the West Australian newspaper? It was the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Julie Bishop!

Whether it’s taking a selfie, having a chat or just having an encounter, famous people are a hidden and unexpected treasure because they create an experience you didn’t expect and give you a story to tell, embellished or just as it is. 

Naza and I met with the Sultan of Johor in Fremantle having missed our meeting with him while we were in Johor
I think in this pic it’s clear that my shirt is the celebrity