We were lucky enough to catch up with Mark Beretta OAM somewhere in between his busy schedule with Sunrise 7, V8 Supercars, Tour de Cure and Army Reserves! With a life-long commitment to Journalism and Sport, it seemed like a natural decision to enlist as a Public Affairs Officer in 2019, and he hasn’t looked back!
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE HOBBY / PAST TIME? Since I was 4 years old, I grew up water skiing. My dad taught me everything I needed to know, but I couldn’t swim, so it was a case of “sink or ski” while learning in the Barwon River near Geelong. I have spent my life skiing and have some really great mates from it. I have also been to some amazing water skiing spots and events, including the Darwin Water Ski Club, where I enjoy watching the sunset after the Supercars.
WHAT DO YOU DO TO MANAGE STRESS? I find that exercise and staying fit helps me to manage stress, which includes a mixture of gym, cycling, running and swimming. Fitness is a good release for me and helps to reset my head when life gets really busy. My wife says that I am unbearable when I don’t exercise, so that’s enough motivation for me! I prefer to go to the gym straight after leaving work or before dinner. I also participate in Tour de Cure every year, which helps to raise much needed funding for cancer research, a cause that touches so many people.
WHAT IS A COMMON QUESTION THAT PEOPLE ASK YOU? People often ask me what time I get up in the morning, and the answer is 3:35am (sometimes 3:36am or 3:37am if I am lucky!). I arrive at the studio of Sunrise 7 at 4:30am to prepare for the day and start on air at 5:30am. You have to love this type of work and enjoy your team to stay motivated. We have an awesome team who have worked together for 20 years, however it has not been great for my social or family life at times. But, through this experience, I have had some amazing opportunities and met some incredible people over 18 years on Australian breakfast television.
WHAT INSPIRES YOU? Firstly, staying healthy for my family and keeping up with my kids. I am also really inspired to work with charities to help raise awareness, especially the Tour de Cure, which I have participated in for over 14 years.
I find a huge sense of purpose when I get involved with something that doesn’t give me something in return (other than personal satisfaction). I have worked hard all my life, so I wanted to give back to the community, then I found Tour de Cure. Overall, I have helped to raise around $14m in cancer funding. This is an incredible result for cancer research, and it couldn’t happen without the support of Channel 7 and our audience. I am easily inspired by inspiring people.
WHAT MOTIVATED YOU TO JOIN ARMY RESERVES IN 2019? Enlisting into the Australian Defence Force (Reserves) was always something I had wanted to do, and I genuinely regret not doing it earlier. I was having a few drinks with some ADF recruiters and had the forms, but never sent them off. I have only been enlisted for a couple of years, but thoroughly enjoyed the opportunities and how much is possible within Defence. I have also been working with a group of veteran mentors in Queensland and have really enjoyed seeing veterans succeeding.
WHAT SKILLS/LESSONS HAVE YOU LEARNED IN THE MILITARY THAT YOU USE REGULARLY? Being in public affairs, I am often dealing with crisis situations and managing unexpected situations. I have learned a lot about people management and trying something new, even when it is unfamiliar or seems challenging. It has been interesting to step outside my comfort zone, but I see a strong sense of service and dedication amongst my comrades and I admire that.
Military training has really challenged me. I remember starting training to become a Specialist Service Officer at Duntroon, standing there at 6:00am in the morning with my sheet over my shoulder – it was an eye-opening experience for me. I had been so comfortable before I enlisted and competent in my day job that I had forgotten how to challenge my comfort zone. I realised things that I didn’t know I could do. My initial ‘fork and spoon’ camp was an eye-opener, but a great experience, except needing to get ready within15 minutes – that was fun! It was also refreshing to be a ‘recruit’ and not Mark Beretta the television personality. I was expected to do a job, learn my role and was not treated differently, which I love.
I was working out at Holsworthy once and I noticed a mess lady looking at me strangely for quite some time... She finally approached me to tell me that I look exactly like my famous twin brother! That was a moment I will never forget and it always makes me laugh when I think about it.
WHAT IS YOUR STRONGEST PERSONALITY TRAIT? Perseverance. My dad always told me that you may not be the most talented person in the room, but you can be the hardest working. I have always been willing to do what needs to be done and it has always paid off. You can work your way to where you want to be.
WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST WEAKNESS? Chocolate… definitely… No, I am working on that. I love to eat, but I need to work harder on my fitness to keep it off. Punctuality could be my greatest weakness.
HOW WOULD YOUR BEST MATE DESCRIBE YOU? They would probably say, “pretty much always late”. Don’t ever plan for me to be on time, but I am good fun to be around. I am also not the first to buy a round of beers, but I can often help out with sporting tickets and events. I’m a very loyal mate - if you ever need me, I’ll be there.
BEST MOMENTS OF YOUR LIFE? Struth! Ummm….. I think it’s magic when your kids are born. Finally finishing my Engineering Degree is also a highlight. I once sat on the back of Mick Doohan’s bike around Phillip Island at 300km per hour - that was pretty crazy!
Any day of commentating the Olympics Games is also an amazing day! I have also been the MC at Buckingham Palace for the Queen’s Baton launch of the Queensland Commonwealth Games, where I got the opportunity to introduce the Queen and Prince Phillip. Here I am, commentating live on BBC and she didn’t come out! Standing out the front of Buckingham Palace, sweating profusely, everyone waiting… 3 minutes later, she walked out when she was ready… It was quite surreal and an incredible opportunity for me.
WHAT IS THE BEST ADVICE YOU HAVE EVER RECEIVED? To follow your dreams and give things a go. Someone needs to do it and it may as well be you. This was my Dad’s advice and I have seen him succeed so many times with hard work. I try to teach my own kids this as well - your dream job does exist and you can be happy at work, it might just require a bit of hard work to get there!
WHO IS YOUR HERO? Oooooooh geeez….. In life; probably my Dad. He did so much, not just for his family, but his community. He had his own plumbing business, three sons and managed to support his family in so many ways.
In sporting: I have always been a fan of Greg Norman. He blazed his own trail and put Australian golf on the international stage. My favourite footballer is Gary Ablett Senior – amazing man. Roger Federer is awesome with his passion for sport. I am also a massive Steve Waugh fan. So many to mention, but Peter Brock was something else - I worked with him a lot earlier in my career.
IS THERE ANYTHING YOU WOULD CHANGE ABOUT YOUR CAREER / LIFE? To be honest, I love media and sport is my first love. If it wasn’t for that, I would have enlisted into the full time Army many years ago. In hindsight, I wish I had spent more quality time with my kids in the earlier years when my work consumed a lot of my time and I wasn’t home with my family. Life is always about balance, but I wouldn’t change much about my journey.
FAVOURITE BAND? This is the easiest question you have asked me! AC/DC without a doubt. I have a treasured AC/DC Rock or Bust album, signed by the world's greatest EVER guitarist Angus Young. The last concert I went to was AC/DC and it was the best concert of my life. I interviewed Brian Johnson for Channel 7 – AMAZING!!
FAVOURITE MOVIE? Hands down - Talledega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby.
FAVOURITE PLACE IN AUSTRALIA? It would have to be Whitehaven Beach on Hamilton Island. It’s an incredible place to swim, gorgeous scenery and still so untouched.
FAVOURITE PLACE IN THE TOP END? Of course this would have to be Hidden Valley Raceway (laughs)!
I also love Cooinda Yellow Waters in Kakadu. We stayed overnight and went out to watch the sunrise. I love the Top End so much.
I do have memories of driving with Mark Skaife when the NT was an autobahn, and we made the best time ever from Darwin to Kakadu. I have never been a racing driver myself, but I did participate in the Grand Prix celebrity race for a bit of a laugh.