Nfld. & Labrador

Newfoundland gets Australian TV air time, with government-paid visit

A crew from Australia's The Today Show has been beaming iceberg-filled broadcasts this past week.

The Today Show shows off Twillingate, Fogo and St. John's to Down Under audiences

Steve Jacobs, a host with Australia's The Today Show, tells Aussies about icebergs. (Twitter)

Two islands, as far apart on Earth from each other as you can get, are getting a little more intimate this week as an Australian TV show beams back live broadcasts from scenic spots in Newfoundland.

The weather hits and colourful bits from Twillingate, Fogo Island and St. John's, courtesy of Australia's breakfast TV program The Today Show, are also courtesy of the federal and provincial governments, which are footing the crew's bill.

"It was a no-brainer," said Steve Jacobs, a Today Show weather presenter on the ground in Newfoundland, of the show's decision to accept the travel offer.

Jacobs said the show is often approached with location pitches, but the idea of getting up close with icebergs sealed the deal for the 30-hour-or-so flight.

"We really are looking for places that are a little bit more remote and more experiential, and that's what Newfoundland and Labrador has to offer," he said.

Australians aren't amateur travellers, he said, and are often looking for something more off the beaten track than big name tourist draws.

Think less New York City, and more … North Atlantic.

"[We] like to find somewhere a little remote, and somewhere a little different," he told CBC Radio's St. John's Morning Show.

Tourism NL is covering the ground arrangements for the crew of about half-dozen people, while the federal Crown corporation Destination Canada paid for flights and the broadcasting satellite costs. CBC News did not receive an exact figure for the trip, but was told that to buy the equivalent Australian air time exposure would cost $1.9 million in Australian dollars (just over $1.7 million Cdn).

'Overwhelming' audience reaction

What is quantifiable so far in the Today Show trip is audience reaction, which according to Jacobs has been "overwhelming," with Aussies agog over his up-close shots of icebergs.

"In Australia, you just can't imagine this. There's nothing like this anywhere near us in the world," he said.

"It can't be much further, or much different to what people in Australia are seeing right now, and that's why I think it makes such great television."

Everything seems to be made out of icebergs over here.- Steve Jacobs


As hard as it might be for Australians to associate chunks of ice with early summer, any Newfoundlanders tuning into the broadcasts might also be struck by Jacobs's weather forecasts for the "winter" temperatures Down Under.

On Tuesday, Jacobs predicted Brisbane would hit a high of 24 C — beating Twillingate's optimistic attempt to reach 20 C.

"I knew that it would be cold, but that's pretty much all that I knew [about Newfoundland]," said Jacobs, who wisely wore a head-to-toe, insulated and waterproof ensemble for his iceberg outing.

The best part? The people

Enthusiasm being almost a job requirement for breakfast television hosts, Jacobs eagerly listed off all the aspects of island life he's enjoyed so far, from cod to candy-coloured houses.

But one aspect of Newfoundland and Labrador has appealed above the rest.

Stevie Jacobs tells Fred Hutton and Krissy Holmes why he travelled halfway across the globe: 

Stevie Jacobs - normally a weather presenter on the Australian Nine Network's breakfast program 'Today' - has taken his segment on the road. He's travelled to the other side of the world actually... which places him squarely in Newfoundland. 11:03

"The hospitality, I think, is what has really taken me more than anything. You really are some of the friendliest people in the world here, and that makes a visitor feel so welcome," he said.

"All I want to do is tell people, you need to go to Newfoundland and Labrador, because it's incredible."

A close runner-up for Jacobs's affections might be iceberg gin. Or iceberg vodka. Or iceberg beer.

"Everything seems to be made out of icebergs over here," he said.

Jacobs said he plans to tote that alcoholic part of the trip back with him to Australia, with as much iceberg gin as he can carry.

Or as much as he's allowed; Australian duty laws allow 2.25 litres of liquor back into the country from international trips.

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

With files from The St. John's Morning Show


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