Chezzi Denyer’s home on a hill overlooking Perthville and Georges Plains in New South Wales’ central west has all the hustle and bustle of a lively hobby farm. It’s filled with animals: sheep and chooks, beautiful miniature highland cattle with their big horns and woolly coats, and a cavoodle named Princess Popcorn.
Chezzi and her family have called this place home for four years.
Her eldest daughter Sailor, born on Mother’s Day seven years ago, is a sweet, caring and peaceful soul. Sailor’s special day has always been a joint birthday party and Mother’s Day celebration. Younger daughter, Scout, at two and a half, is already an adventurer – an intrepid tree climber and animal lover who pops down to the paddocks to pat baby lambs.
Chezzi’s property – “dry at the moment due to very little rain” – is quite a contrast to her mother’s garden in Bathurst where she grew up and where the photo was taken. In that garden, Christmases were spent playing cricket, kicking the ball around and having lots and lots of family over.
Her mum takes great pride in her garden. Chezzi describes it as filled with blossoms, daffodils and a beautiful pond full of fish. Memories of leaves falling off the trees, plenty of shade, vines, lots of ferns and a place to return to when she was feeling stressed working away with morning news show Sunrise.
As a producer at Sunrise, where she spent the early part of her relationship with husband Grant, who hosted the weather, it wasn’t unusual to spend six days a week on the road travelling around Australia.
At four weeks pregnant Chezzi was on the back of motorbikes, living in dongas and in tents, sometimes pitched on the banks of croc-infested waters. Chezzi and her crew fought off the elements as they tried to meet tough deadlines – even getting trapped in Brisbane’s floodwaters, sleeping on the side of the road in their car. And just a few months after Sailor was born, Chezzi went back on the road full time with a crew of five.
Their travels were an immense success, and together she and her crew saw most parts of Australia and created fantastic memories.
But surrounded by all men, and being the first in the group to have a baby, Chezzi had absolutely no idea about being a mum.
“At the time, when I went back to full time travelling (when Sailor was a few months old) I wasn’t really coping. I had no mother’s group,” she says. “The family I had was my crew on the road.”
She struggled with breastfeeding. And anxiety. But never talked about it.
“So many mums I spoke to in the Top End were doing it exceptionally tough, living on farms, on the land, and they were so humble. Every single one of the conversations I shared with those mums was incredibly helpful to my journey and me and I’ll be forever grateful. They didn’t fully realise the power of a cup of tea and a scone.”
“Leaving the Seven network five years ago and moving to Channel 10, where Grant now hosts Family Feud, allowed us to move out to the country. And Grant’s only away one week a fortnight to film.”
“I’ve now got a great network of friends, living in Bathurst…and I head to my mum’s when I need help or a chat.”
Connecting mums across the country
In late August 2017, Chezzi launched Mummy Time TV on YouTube and more recently an online mother’s group www.mummytime.co, which she created to help mums who don’t have the opportunity to feel connected. She describes her YouTube channel as “a place to have a laugh, be educated and entertained, with a lot of humorous skits of everyday life”.
“It’s for mums to feel they’re part of something bigger – like a bigger family,” she adds.
This self-funded project isn’t cheap to make, but has been such a big passion of Chezzi’s because of what she went through and the times when she desperately wanted answers.
“When you’re a mum, stuff goes wrong all the time. It’s great to remind each other about the funny side of things! Laughter has been a very good remedy for me…that’s what I’ve injected among some sit-down couch chats on Mummy Time TV.
“For me, motherhood is ultimately about love, patience and bettering myself every day, for my children. Some days are super hard yet rewarding. Most of the time it’s just nice!”
About: 'Those who mum' series
Meet 40 women across Australia, from as far as Cairns in North Queensland to Baldivis in Western Australia, as part of a 40-part editorial and portrait series that celebrates the faces of women and mums from across Australia.