Cheers for two
A recent article about Susan and Ed DeLong who operate Ardrossan B&B in the beautiful Mudgee NSW wine country.
Away from their whirlwind high-profile careers, Susan and Ed DeLong, soak in simple Mudgee life.
By Elizabeth Frias
Susan and Ed DeLong have both led full lives in decades of overseas postings, Ed as a top calibre journalist of the formerly great wire service, United Press International and Susan as the feisty Aussie broadcaster of Philadelphia’s high-rated talk radio station.
It is a perfect marriage for these two like-minded people, so when Susan Bray, an Australian born in Hay, NSW, was coaxed by her family to move back home, Ed was eager for the move.
They met at Susan’s studio – she was to interview Ed who had just covered for UPI the nuclear power station disaster in Pennsylvania.
“I was interviewing him, and he was so wonderful that I kept him on for the whole show,” recalls Susan. ”Then we went for coffee and he walked me to my car and cleaned the snow off my car. I thought, Oh, he’s very nice!”
Ed, now the media officer of the Midwestern Region Council and prior to that editor and Chief of Staff of the Mudgee Guardian for three years, said he had no qualms signing off on a prime career in the US to live in obscurity in a country town like Mudgee.
“I don’t miss it at all,” admits Ed of his fast-paced job as a UPI reporter and then Vice President, who covered colossal beats that grabbed the world’s headlines, such as the 1963 assassination of John F Kennedy in Dallas and the 1969 landing of the first man on the moon.
“I’ve ran UPI coverage of the astronaut program from the Gemini space flight era to the Apollo moon landings and the Skylab space station. I lived with the astronauts, trained with them and wrote about them.
“In Washington, I ran UPI’s worldwide coverage on the military from the height of the Vietnam War through to the US pullout and UPI's energy and environment coverage from the days of oil embargoes to the Three Mile Island nuclear accident. Then I made the move into marketing and management with UPI.
“But I would not trade anything in the world for living in Mudgee. I love the people, the life and looking at these stunning views around us,” he quips.
“I grew up in the Appalachian mountains of America which was 3,500 feet or more above sea level but had the same profile as Mudgee’s valleys and mountains. Here, I wake up every morning watching the colours from the sky, paddocks and across the hills. I absolutely love living here.”
Susan’s top-rated radio talk show earned her the moniker, ”The Saucy Aussie”, although her mum called her “The John Laws of Philadelphia”. During her years on air in the US, first in Des Moines, Iowa and then in Philadelphia and Washington DC, she grilled famous guests like US President Ronald Reagan on air, clogging the airwaves with phone calls to the station.
“It was during the 1980 caucus in Iowa and I was the only person to interview Ronald Reagan there because he used to work at the radio station. The Washington Post wrote a story about this Australian talk show host which was picked up by newspapers all over the world, that I’d given Ronald Reagan a hard time. But no, I didn’t. I only asked him direct questions and because I was a woman, they expected me to soft pedal and throw puff balls at him.”
Before rising to fame in US radio, Susan began her career at 2MG in Mudgee at age 19. She left to become ‘the weather girl” on CBN Channel 8 in Orange and radio personality at 2GZ, then to 2CA in Canberra. Treading on the same risky hot spot assignments as Ed, she covered the Vietnam War and other troubled Southeast Asian countries including Malaysia, Singapore and the Philippines at the height of the Cold War.
She moved to US with her first husband, a UPI colleague of Ed’s. They had two children – CK who lives in Sydney and Jason who lives with his wife and two boys in Florida.
Susan and Ed have kept both their lives so utterly simple on their Ardrossan property on Gulgong Road. He busies himself with Council and community activities that included volunteering in the Rural Fire Service while she runs the home front and Ardrossan Bed & Breakfast.
Admittedly, the contrast between Ed’s new lease of life in Australia and his long stint as UPI reporter covering world events is stark.
“With the UPI the world was my community. You can’t get a meaningful one on one relationship with the world. You’re detached. Whereas here, I am very much in touch with people.”
As editor of Mudgee Guardian, he believes he chased the best of local stories that are close to his heart though incomparable to the world headlines he had by-lined. These included the series of developments on the closure of the Mudgee abattoir that left hundreds of locals jobless and at breaking point and on the lighter side, the birth of a neighbour’s foal that almost died from a feral animal attack.
“From personal stories like that miracle foal to something big like the abattoir story, I still feel that being a journalist is a rewarding job. I walk down the street and people stop to talk to me. I saw the foal’s owner the other day and she told me that the foal is doing fine.”
Susan, too, like Ed, is not in despair with life under a quiet country horizon.
“Life goes on and it’s so beautiful here,” says Susan. “I used to go and interview people from all over the world, but now people come to me from all over the world so I conduct my talk show here at Ardrossan B&B with our guests!”
Susan and Ed DeLong
286 Gulgong Rd
Mudgee 2850 NSW
02 6372 0683
0427 093 474
- Located 264km NW of Sydney, on the Cudgegong River, is the picturesque country town of Mudgee. The scenic landscape has attracted many artists to the region.