Natalie Barr’s emotional family news: ‘I was mourning their childhood’

The Sunrise star makes a candid family revelation
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Calling the last 12 months a big year for Natalie Barr would be a massive understatement. Not only does she continue to set that alarm each day for her 4am wake-up call, the Sunrise star has faced a relentless news cycle and a year of change for her family, all while breaking in a new co-host.

On June 12, 2023, Matt Shirvington stepped into the shoes of David Koch, who had been at the helm of Channel 7’s flagship breakfast show since 2002. While the Olympic sprinter, 45, had been presenting sports and acting as a fill-in for some time beforehand, he faced a baptism of fire on his first official full-time day.

Natalie Barr and sons
Natalie Barr with her sons (Credit: Australian Women’s Weekly)

“I remember it like it was yesterday because it was such a big tragic news day. We were covering the Hunter Valley bus crash,” Barr tells WHO.

The incident, in which 10 people died and many more were injured while coming home in a private bus after attending a wedding in the Hunter Valley, is Australia’s worst road crash in two decades.

Natalie Barr Matt Shirvington
Natalie Barr with Matt Shirvington on set. (Credit: Instagram/Natalie Barr)

“It was a tough story and [Shirvo] was being thrown in the deep end but I knew he could handle it,” Barr says. “Some saw it as risky bringing him into such a big job but every day sitting next to him on that couch has just felt right.”

But it isn’t just at work that the journalist, 56, has faced change. At home, an even bigger adjustment has been made. At the start of the year, Barr and her husband Andrew Thompson became empty-nesters.

Natalie Barr
Natalie Barr has become an empty-nester. (Credit: Supplied/Steven Chee)

Their youngest son, Hunter, 19, moved to Canberra to start university. Their eldest son, Lachlan, 22, is living in Melbourne after finishing his studies.

“It would be fair to say that I did sit around and mope a fair bit the first few months not really knowing what to do and eating a bit too much chocolate,” Barr confesses with a laugh. “I was mourning their childhood and felt a bit discombobulated over not knowing what to do. The job of being a parent isn’t ever over, but we’re in a new part of the relationship and had to learn what the different boundaries were.”

Natalie Barr’s new family chapter

Having taken the last few months to get used to this new phase, Barr now sees the silver lining. After decades of putting herself behind the needs of her family, she now has the extra time she always wanted to prioritise her health.

“It’s not so bad coming home to an empty house now,” Barr says. “I’ve just bought a Pilates machine for my house because of the hours that I work, I’ve always had trouble getting to classes. There has always been an excuse, but this is a time when there are no excuses to get in the way anymore.”

Barr and Thompson will also soon be jetting off on a “romantic” vacation to Fiji. “This will be our first holiday by ourselves in at least two decades,” she exclaims. “It’s going to be really lovely to lay by the pool with some cocktails and spend some time together – just us.”

Natalie Barr on Sunrise
Natalie Barr on Sunrise. (Credit: Instagram/Natalie Barr)

When she gets back, Barr will be fully recharged to tackle another big year at work. While she and Shirvington have proved to be a winning combination, consistently taking out the top spot in ratings in their timeslot, Barr knows this isn’t a time to sit back and rest on her laurels.

“What I can say about Sunrise is to expect the unexpected,” she says. “We’ve got an amazing team and some new producers who have just come in full of great ideas and it’s going to be a great year.”

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