When you think of Australian music, what do you picture? Immediately you may think of our illustrious rock royalty, such as Barnesy, Michael Hutchence or Bon Scott. Or perhaps you think back to sultry summer days spent sitting in the backyard with mates counting down Triple J’s Hottest 100. If you’re of a particular generation, the soundtracks to Xanadu and Grease, and Olivia Newton-John’s sweet vocal stylings almost certainly come to mind.
For many of us, Myf (short for Myfanwy) Warhurst is as inextricably linked to Australian music as any of these staples – all without being a professional musician herself. There isn’t much she hasn’t done so far in her career – from being a writer and radio presenter, to a television host and reality TV star, Warhurst has been a fixture of Aussie screen and media for nearly two decades
In Time of My Life, she reflects on the soundtrack of her life, charting a chronological course from her childhood in regional Victoria right up until just after the COVID lockdowns.
Warhurst grew up Donald, and later Red Cliffs, in Victoria during the late 70s and early 80s. From the moment she tried to kiss Daryl Braithwaite through the screen of her television at the age of six, her path was set. She was born to live and love music.
Warhurst creates a warm and nostalgic portrait of both Australia during that period, as well as the charms of growing up in a small regional community. There are reflections on Teddy Bear biscuits and cheese cubes on sticks, poring over her brothers’ records, sleeping in the car with her siblings while her parents attended a party in a house nearby, recording her favourite songs by holding a tape recorder next to the TV speaker – hell, she even spent summer holidays in a modified Melbourne tram sitting in the middle of a farm in Darling View. Through her writing, it’s easy to feel a longing for a childhood we’ve never experienced.
She then takes us through her rebellious uni years living in share houses in Melbourne’s north while attending the Victorian College of the Arts. She developed a more eclectic taste by attending raves and local gigs, writing about the latter during her time as an editor at the now extinct Inpress magazine. She then made a natural move into radio at Triple J, followed by an equally comfy move into television as a regular team leader on the quiz show Spicks and Specks.
Time of My Life is an easy and fairly fast read – you could easily feel like a good friend was telling you stories over a glass of wine. The frequent use of internet slang (such as soz and lol) only adds to the friendly tone of the book. She mostly skims the surface of her memories, not getting too bogged down in the nitty gritty details. If you’re looking for advice on how to break into the industry, there isn’t much in the way of specific examples. Warhurst’s career has been a combination of all the usual factors: talent and hard work, of course, but also being sociable and friendly enough to end up at the right places at the right times, with the right people.
As light and breezy as Warhurst’s voice is, there are moments that are more serious and deeply moving – such as her loving tribute chapter to a long-term partner who sadly died recently, and her reflections on difficult family revelations during her episode of Who Do You Think You Are?
For fans of the long-running reality TV show I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here!, she has plenty of stories from behind the scenes – mostly about the life-long friendships she made during the process. She also talks about her experience hosting Eurovision and rightfully defends Australia’s place in the competition, calling back to the largely migrant communities she grew up with in regional Victoria and how Eurovision has played a vital role in connecting Australians to their multicultural roots overseas.
Publishing a memoir may feel a little premature, as the 49-year-old still has plenty of time to continue forging an impressive professional career, but it feels as if it came at the perfect time in Warhurst’s life, as lockdowns forced her to take a step back and assess what’s next.
She writes in the same way she might tell you her stories in person – casually, not always perfectly, but always entertainingly. Time of My Life is a joyful and heart-warming read, and would make a great present for the muso in your life these holidays.
Time of My Life, Myf Warhurst
Pages: 320 pp
Publication Date: September 2022