12 May 2023

Region Riverina vs entertainment guru Richard 'Dicky' Wilkins

| Glenn Pallister
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Richard Wilkins

Richard Wilkins owns a stake in the Griffith wine industry. Photo: Supplied.

Wikipedia says: ”Richard Stephen Wilkins AM (born 19 June, 1954) is an Australian television and radio presenter. He is the entertainment editor for the Nine Network and weekend announcer on smoothfm, and master of ceremonies.”

We say: ”Dicky” is an absolute legend. Just to hear one 10th of his stories makes him a huge choice on our Top 50 Aussies to have a beer with.

Do you have a connection to the Region? What and when was your last visit?

It was probably a few years ago, actually due to the pandemic happening.

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Favourite part or thing about the Region?

When I think of the Riverina I think of Griffith, and because I have strong connections there with the Calabria family. I became a shareholder in Calabria Family Wines a long time ago.

Back in the late ’80s, every well-meaning organisation used to put on a sort of a rock concert on a Saturday afternoon/evening to try and raise money, and so it came to pass and I was booked to go down there and host this gig for the Griffith Rotary club.

I’d just started doing MTV on Channel 9 and Bill Calabria was one of the organisers. It was a great day, but I could see that no-one was gonna make much money out of it so I said to Bill, who was one of the heads of Rotary, ‘Nice to meet your family … don’t worry about the fee’.

So they didn’t pay me but he dumped about 10 grand worth of booze on my doorstep the next week, and from there, a wonderful friendship was born, and that was when I started going there regularly and I consider Bill and his magnificent family as longtime family friends.

Richard Wilkins

Richard Wilkins has been sharing his showbiz secrets through a book and TV show. Photo: Nine.

What was your best food experience?

My best food experience, and probably my best food experience on the planet, is at La Scala … oh, my goodness! La Scala is one of the great restaurants in the world and if you don’t know what I’m talking about you should be ashamed of yourself and go there immediately.

What’s a must-do in the region?

Go to La Scala and Calabria Family Wines and also, drive around and meet the people. People are the best thing about it. Lovely, lovely people.

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Drive or fly?

Good question. It’s about a six or seven-hour drive; not that I’ve done it recently all that many times, but I do like hitting the open road.

What are your three go-to songs on the road trip to the Region?

Well, from the North Shore of Sydney you need more than three songs, more like 300! You can’t go past a bit of Beatles, some Stones, Dire Straits, Springsteen, whatever’s new.

I also like listening to the radio when I’m on the road. Get a taste of what’s going on with the local news and stuff as well.

Name one person you would not want in the passenger seat for the drive.

I’ve got a fair selection of ex-wives, so probably one of them.

Anyone, dead or alive, you would want in the passenger seat?

Any of my kids – I love my kids more than I have the words to describe, so any of my kids.

Do you bring your own pillows?

Of course not! I leave them at home and enjoy the new fresh ones in the hotel.

Why should someone who hasn’t visited here make the trip?

Because it’s f%#*ing awesome – that’s why!

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