Neale Whitaker is a major media powerhouse. The recent AACTA Award nominee was the editor of Belle magazine for eight years and spent well over a decade spearheading other luxury titles such as Vogue Living.
Today, he is one of the most respected judges on the multi-award-winning Channel Nine renovation series The Block as well as co-host of Foxtel’s Love it or List It Australia. Despite all the accolades, Neale is also one of the nicest men you’ll ever meet.
He’s sophisticated and stylish and comes as a complete package, with charisma, humour and kindness and a passionate love for all animals (which we adore about him the most, to be honest).
Without question, Neale is Australia’s foremost style guru and sitting down with him recently, watching his piercing blue eyes sparkle as he discussed his recent move to the NSW South Coast (not far from the Southern Highlands at all), we couldn’t help but become more smitten with him.
It’s easy to see why his partner, the love of his life, David Novak-Piper, still sings his accolades after more than 16 years together. Together with their stunningly handsome Weimaraner dogs, Otis and Ollie, the two recently exited their city lives for the peace and quiet of a small town just outside of the Southern Highlands.
Here, Neale Whitaker shares with us his top tips for such a big relocation. Why they chose the tree change and how the human and furry family are all adjusting beautifully.
What prompted your move from city to country?
Moving out of the city to the south coast was a longstanding dream, but we knew we had to wait until the timing was right. We still have a small base in Sydney too, but our main home is now between the Southern Highlands and the coast.
What are the main differences or adjustments that you’ve found you’ve needed to make?
We’re still only a few months into our tree change, so it’s all a learning process, but the differences are so positive. Waking up each morning to rolling hills and the sound of kookaburras is magical. The only slight downside is that we have to be very organised about how we divide our lives between two bases that are two hours apart.
Why did you choose the beautiful Southern NSW region?
I fell in love with the region many years ago when I first moved to Australia from the UK. I had friends at Gerroa that I visited regularly. And then when David and I got together, we started heading down this way regularly with our dogs, Ollie and Otis. The NSW south coast has a very special quality, which for us is the perfect blend of country and ocean.
How are your beautiful dogs adjusting?
They love it! How could they not? They’re both getting on in years, so we call it their retirement home, but they’ve always loved this part of the world, even when they were pups.
People always think it’s hard to keep a career and live where we live. You’ve clearly proved them wrong.
It’s a juggling act to be honest, but it’s achievable. David and I are both self-employed which makes us more flexible. There will be times in the year when I’m mostly in Sydney, but other times when I can base myself happily here. It’s really a case of ‘wherever I hang my lap top …’
What should every person pack when moving to a new house for their first week in the house (prior to unpacking the big boxes)?
We are no experts, but obviously basic kitchen equipment so you can throw together simple meals. A microwave, coffee machine (how did we ever live without Nespresso?) and kettle were our essentials, as were office basics so I could immediately set up a home office. Oh, and Bluetooth speakers. We lived quite comfortably without a TV for the first few weeks which proves it can be done – we actually talked to each other!
What’s your secret to a seamless move? Especially with animals?
Is there really such a thing as a seamless move? I doubt it. Fortunately David and I are very organised people, but moving is always stressful, especially when it involves a major social, emotional and geographical change too. The dogs actually made everything easier. It’s extraordinary how quickly they adapt their routine to a new location. We can learn from them.
You just adopted a horse. How is the new extended family getting along?
Just fine. Bill is a gorgeous old boy of 28 and we love him. He’s low maintenance, but giving him quality of life in his twilight years is very important to us. Bill, Otis and Ollie were naturally wary of each other at first, but now they happily accept each other. The dogs love watching Bill have his daily feed!
Now that you have more space, do you plan on adopting or fostering more animals?
Watch this space! I’m pretty sure we will down the track, but our three senior citizens (Otis, Ollie and Bill) are our priorities at the moment.
What are your favourite restaurants in the Southern Highlands and South Coast region and why?
That’s easy! We absolutely love the delicious seasonal, regional menu and perfect service at South on Albany in Berry (even when we were living in Sydney it was our favourite), and we’re big fans of Bussola, also in Berry. The new Bangalow Dining at Shoalhaven Heads is a great spot,and further south we love Cupitts at Uladulla.
Stay With Neale Whitaker
Neale and his partner David have recently built an on-site guest house that is operating as a B&B. You can book your stay and soak up all the true Neale Whitaker style!
For the ultimate in style, interiors and travel tips, be sure to follow Neale on instagram @nealewhitaker. You won’t be disappointed!
Love Di xxx
If you wish to learn more about life and property in the Southern Highlands, please contact me via www.homeandhearthproperty.com.au