Journalist, foreign correspondent, newsreader Mark Ferguson still calls Tamworth home

HE has lived and worked across all corners of the world, but Mark Ferguson will always call Tamworth home. 

The iconic anchor of Channel Seven’s 6pm news bulletin in Sydney came to Tamworth from Parkes at just two years of age. 

He saw out his schooling here, got his first job here, and despite a formidable career as a high-profile journalist with 30 years’ experience, still credits the Tamworth community for all he’s achieved.

Mark grew up as one of seven siblings, who loved his sport and his mates.

“It was lots of fun, lots of mates, lots and lots of sport in Tamworth,” he said.

“I loved my rugby league.

"I didn't realise it at the time, but the highlight of my sporting career came in under 9s when we were state rugby league champions, winning the state tournament.

"But I was probably more serious about my cricket.

"I played a lot of cricket."

He attended St Nicholas School in his primary years, before heading to Christian Brothers College, which would later merge with St. Dominic's College to become Our Lady of the Rosary College.

Mark Ferguson, 18, at his first job as a cadet journalist in Tamworth in 1984.

Mark Ferguson, 18, at his first job as a cadet journalist in Tamworth in 1984.

He saw out his senior years at McCarthy College, which originally only catered for year 11 and 12. 

During high school, Mark always had his sights set on becoming a country vet. 

"To do vet science at Sydney University I had to do chemistry, physics and three-unit maths,” he said.

"By the end of year 11, I think I was failing, physics, chemistry and three-unit maths, so going into year 12 my teachers wisely came to me and said, 'look, your history is good, your English is good. If it needs to be written down, you seem to be okay. If you need to add it up, it's not going so well for you', so I wisely had a quick change of subjects.

"It was probably halfway through year 12 when I started to think about doing something with writing, and journalism popped its head up."

Straight out of school, he landed a cadetship with local television station NEN-9 in 1984, covering everything from cattle prices to country music.

"It was a really interesting time," he said.

"I wasn't a public speaker or a debater, I was a pretty shy guy.

"To go from school to stepping in front of a camera, I found that quite awkward at first.”

But he credits news editors Robin Barlow and John Begley, as well as fellow journalist Neil Warren, as his great mentors during that time. 

"They were really helpful, really welcoming, and really patient with the guy who didn't know too much straight out of school,” he said.

"I just remember the excitement of the job and the journey that was about to start - going to different places each day, meeting different people.

"It was an extraordinarily steep learning curve, but one I did really enjoy.”

Mark Ferguson covering a Peace Summit in Egypt in the mid-1990s.

Mark Ferguson covering a Peace Summit in Egypt in the mid-1990s.

Wanting to try his hand in a bigger market, Mark had his sights set on Brisbane.

"I remember thinking Sydney was a bit too big for me, and Brisbane was probably a nice-sized fit for a country kid from Tamworth,” he said.

"I set my sights on getting to Brisbane.”

His first stop was Lismore in 1986, where he worked for NRTV.

After a year there, he joined Channel Seven in 1987 as a reporter in the Brisbane newsroom.

Two years later, he moved to Seven's Cairns bureau where he did features for Hinch, Sportsworld and 11AM.

A year travelling through Europe and Great Britain followed and in 1991, Mark started at Channel Seven in Sydney.

Mark Ferguson on the road in Broome, WA, covering a Royal Tour in 1994.

Mark Ferguson on the road in Broome, WA, covering a Royal Tour in 1994.

In 1992, he joined Nine News in Sydney and transferred to the network’s London bureau in 1994.

There, he covered major stories, including the horrific Rwanda massacres, the Palestinian intifada, the funeral of assassinated Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, the 50th anniversary of D-Day, the ongoing troubles in Northern Ireland and the death of Princess Diana.

Mark returned to Sydney in 1997 to continue reporting and presenting news for the Nine Network.

He went on to spend a year at Good Medicine in 2000 while continuing newsreading.

In 2001, he resumed full-time commitments in the newsroom, first presenting Nine Morning News and later Nine Early News.

In 2003, Mark became the presenter for the weekend 6pm Sydney editions of Nine News as well as Nine Early News and was the stand-in presenter for the weeknight 6pm bulletin.

The following year he also joined Sunday as the program's newsreader while continuing to read the weekend editions of Nine News and Nine Morning News at 11am.

He led the network’s coverage of the Boxing Day Tsunami in 2004 and weeks later was appointed to anchor Nine’s weeknight bulletin in Sydney. 

Mark held this position for four years.

He made the switch back to Channel Seven in November 2009, presenting Seven News Sydney’s 6pm bulletin on weekends.

In January 2014, he took over the main newsreading role, and remains there today.

"But you never forget your first interview, you never forget your first story, and they all started back in Tamworth,” Mark said.

"There have been many times in my career when I've had to pinch myself and think, how did a young bloke from Tamworth end up in this position. 

"I was just very, very fortunate to grow up in a great place, to be surrounded by a great community.”

Mark is married to Jayne and they have three children in Jack, Ted and Paddy.

Though his parents retired to Sydney several years ago, Mark will always call Tamworth home.

It’s the “overall feeling of home, the overall feeling of community” that he loves most about our city.

"I can always just remember feeling like I belonged there,” he said.

"It's just that lovely feeling of home.

"Tamworth has given me far more than I've ever given Tamworth.

"I owe a hell of a lot to my beginnings.

"It's still very much my home town and always will be.”

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