On September 11 2001 Chris Bath was putting her 10 month old son to bed when the phone rang. And rang. And rang.
On the other end of the line was her Sunday Sunrise producer, Sabre Lane.
“She asked in a really serious voice, ‘Have you got the television on?’ She said ‘Turn it on’ and hung up.
“I turned the television on and there was Sandra Sally. And I’m watching in horror.”
Like so many of us that fateful night, she watched a moment in history Live on TV as the World Trade Center was attacked in New York.
“I remember being in utter disbelief, thinking, ‘I have a small child. What sort of world am I bringing him into?’
“And there has to be parents now thinking that, with Coronavirus.”
Bath reflects on 9 / 11 ahead of a new ABC series Road to Now, which charts key world events over the past 30 years.
The 6 part series by WildBear Entertainment seeks to put perspective on how the events have shaped the modern world and led us into the 21st Century.
“You look back at history, in a show like this, which shows you the world has been at these junctions before. Junctions we probably never expected, and we’ve managed to get through. I know I sound a little bit like Pollyanna, but I think with Coronavirus, we’ll find a way, as well.”
But if history is destined to repeat itself, Bath poetically notes one contrast from 30 years ago to today.
“We tore walls down in 1989, but by 2020 we’re putting them back up.”
She refers, of course, to the fall of the Berlin Wall, which is where the series begins with the collapse of the Soviet Union, as democracy swept through Eastern Europe.
“We all thought we were going to get nuked by Russia. So the fall of the Berlin Wall was a pivotal moment,” she recalls.
“I was 21 or 22 when the Wall came down, and already working as a journalist. I think the world couldn’t help but rejoice and think about this world ahead that we will going to see.
“If you were from a Western democracy you probably thought there wasn’t going to be too much conflict again. World peace was going to break out. But we’ve gone from basically blocs that existed to globalisation.
“And now the world’s shutting down again with Coronavirus. Borders have never been more fashionable.”
There are six episodes presented by Bath: Age of Conflict, Global Shapers, The Fight for Freedom, Return of the Wall, Globalisation and In Harm’s Way. The series includes interviews with some of the world’s most acclaimed historians, politicians, writers and reporters.
“It’s a history lesson from people who were there, who saw it first-hand, from people who were analysing it at the time or have had time to do it. There are a couple of world leaders thrown in. Helen Clarke, John Howard give you their reflections on it,” she continues.
“It draws on the long form storytelling that the ABC has been doing for so long -telling Australians what’s happening overseas. All of those pictures are there. But I can’t imagine how long it took (producer) Greg Wild and the team to trawl through all of those.
“I’ve worked on a lot of things over the years. It blew me away how they managed to condense 30 years of history down into those pivotal moments that we see on screen and the commentators that they’ve managed to get into this series, who are first class.”
Bath is currently presenting 10 News First on Saturdays and Sundays and, after years of network contract, enjoying her freelance status. During lockdown she is spending more time on her farm.
“I know there’s people going through terrible financial hardship and I want to preface what I say because of that. People have lost jobs. It’s been awful. But we were lucky enough to buy a small piece of bush land in the lower Hunter Valley a few years ago. I had ambitions of living there and that’s just happened a whole lot faster than what I thought. So I’ve seen beekeeping on my farm. I’ve been vegetable farming on my farm, it’s 100 acres. I haven’t had to see another human being.
“I had a whole lot of freelance work lined up and that, of course, has gone, because there’s been such a big hit on television production. But I’m lucky enough to be in a financial position where that’s not too much of a drama for me.
“I’m enjoying the luxury of having a little bit of freedom to do things like the Invictus Games, doing ABC Radio, stories for The Project.”
Road to Now is the latest project for a journalist who has read plenty of stories and headlines from a news desk. But for those looking for perspective, this will seek to ‘value add’ with the benefit of hindsight.
“Journalism is the the first draft of history. This is a second draft.”
Road to Now airs 9:30pm Tuesday on ABC.