Sunrise's golden girl Natalie Barr's rise to fame

·Contributor
·4-min read

How did a small town country girl from Western Australia become the jewel of Sunrise's crown? Through hard work, grit and determination – that's what makes Natalie Barr so likeable.

Natalie has been on Australia's screens since she joined Sunrise, Seven Network's nationally syndicated morning show, back in 2003.

sunrise host Natalie Barr attends Handa Opera's Aida opening night
Natalie Barr is the new co-host of Sunrise taking over from Samantha Armytage. Photo: Getty Images

Natalie grew up in the country town of Bunbury where she attended the co-ed Bunbury Catholic College, and become the head girl in her final year. After school, she went to Curtin University in Perth where she studied journalism and met her husband Andrew. He had actually been her flatmate before things blossomed into romance.

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"He moved in with my girlfriend Kylie and me and we became best friends," she told the Sydney Morning Herald.

"Somewhere along the line our relationship just changed – it was a natural evolution, and one day we realised that it was something more. We've been together 30 years now and I feel so lucky that we started as best friends. It's a great way to begin a marriage."

sunrise host Natalie Barr and husband Andrew Thompson
Natalie Barr and husband Andrew Thompson attending the Australian premiere of Hamilton Photo: Getty Images

After university, Natalie was determined to break into journalism. "I wrote to every newspaper, TV station and radio station in the state, and the proprietor of the Wanneroo Times was the only one to write back," she told Women's Weekly.

She got her first break in television working for a country station in Kalgoorlie before following Andrew, now a filmmaker, to Los Angeles where she worked as a freelance news writer.

The couple returned to Australia in 1994 and Natalie was able to get a job with the Seven Network in Sydney. In 1996 she filled in for Chris Bath in the first two weeks of the early edition of Sunrise before returning to her role as a newsreader.

Peter Ford and Natalie in 1996 on Sunrise
Peter Ford and Natalie in 1996 on an early edition of Sunrise. Photo: Seven Network

When the version of Sunrise that we recognise today was launched in 2002 with David Koch and Melissa Doyle, it wasn't long before they were adding Natalie to their team as the newsreader.

With children around the same age, Natalie and Mel bonded. 

"Mel and I gossip about kids and home type issues as soon as we get in the door in the morning," Natalie told Mother Inc in 2011, a friendship that is still as strong today.

TV Hosts Natalie Barr, David Koch and Melissa Doyle
TV Hosts Natalie Barr, David Koch and Melissa Doyle in 2005. Photo: Getty Images
Natalie Barr and Melissa Doyle
Natalie Barr and Melissa Doyle have remained firm friends over the years. Photo: Getty Images

Being a mum to her two boys, Lachlan, now 19, and Hunter, now 16, was hard in those days of early mornings and young children.

"If you work and have kids there is a sacrifice and I'd be lying if I said there wasn't," she told the publication. "Each day I'm either at work or at home with kids.

But she wouldn't change a thing, telling Women's Weekly: "My boys and my husband are my life."

"I may have this amazing career, but they are my number one priority and they always have been. Andrew and the boys come first. Of course, I have always been able to run out the door to cover a story when I need to, but I only ever did that when the boys were old enough to deal with it and to be left at home."

So when Samantha Armytage decided to call time as the co-host of Sunrise earlier this year, it was no wonder that the Sunrise producers turned to their rock-steady newsreader of 18 years to fill those shoes.

sunrise stars Natalie Barr and Samantha Armytage arrives at the Myer Spring/Summer 2014 Collections Launch
Natalie Barr took over from Samantha Armytage as the co-host of 'Sunrise' (photographed together in 2013). Photo: Getty Images
Sunrise team Sam Mac, Edwina Bartholomew, Natalie Barr, David Koch and Mark Beretta
The Sunrise Family - Sam Mac, Edwina Bartholomew, Natalie Barr, David Koch and Mark Beretta. Photo: Channel Seven

"It's such an amazing job and while I have only been in the seat for a couple of weeks, I have to admit that I love it," Natalie told Woman's Weekly.

And fans of the show love her. She has earned her place at the forefront of the show with her journalistic experience, her low-key demeanour and onscreen consistency. And she's not taking her opportunity for granted.

"It comes with a lot of responsibility," she admits. "It really helps that I get on with so many of the people around me, too."

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