By Lisa Rockman
Newcastle is the gift that keeps giving for producers of the reality television show Travel Guides.
The show kicked off in 2017 with the hilarious Fren family from Newcastle, who soon became fan favourites.
This year, five very different groups of Aussie travellers will again be offering their funny and distinctive perspective for holiday reviews as they journey around our great nation critiquing and exploring new destinations.
Joining the Frens, cowgirls Stack and Mel, "posh" couple Kevin and Janetta, and best mates Kev, Dorian and Teng in 2021 are newcomers and Novocastrians Matt and Brett. Like the Frens, they love a laugh and don't have a filter when it comes to sharing thoughts and opinions.
This year's series is not actually season four of Travel Guides. Instead, it's being called the Aussie Event series and encompasses four special homegrown episodes that showcase unique Aussie destinations. Destinations include an active wellness holiday in Byron Bay, a Whitsundays escape, a Tassie discovery and an Outback adventure through the Red Centre. But one person's idea of paradise can be another's idea of hell. These very different groups of ordinary Aussies become travel critics, going on the same week-long holiday - reviewing the cuisine, accommodation, activities and local sights.
The newest Travel Guides, Matt and Brett, have been together for 18 years and married for seven. Matt works for a local council while Brett is a primary school teacher.
Matt, 45, loves to organise everything in advance while Brett, 51, is happy to go along for the ride. They are both quick with biting commentary on everything around them but are generous, kind and love a laugh. Matt is not afraid to dance like no one's watching and rather fancies himself as a karaoke performer. Brett is most comfortable in one of his multiple pairs of crocs.
They describe themselves as high-end travellers but they also love a bargain and a discount rate. They also share a wicked sense of humour and a biting wit.
"Hi everyone, I'm the good looking one," Matt says, laughing.
"For us to be making our debut on an Aussie Event series is pretty special. You kind of forget how good your own country is when you've travelled as much as we have."
The couple, who married in New Zealand seven years ago, approach a holiday in different ways.
"Matt starts organising our holidays 12 months in advance and gets the spreadsheet out," Brett says.
"By the time the holiday's booked we know exactly what we're doing, where we're going, where we're eating and how much it will cost. And it's already paid for before we leave. I tend to pack the night before and turn up."
Adds Matt: "Yes, I do all the planning, but once we're on the holiday Brett takes over. We're a good team."
Something Brett never forgets to pack, even at the last minute, is his Crocs. He is known to take several pairs wherever he goes.
"Every good holiday needs a good pair of Crocs. You can dress them up, you can dress them down. They really are an essential part of travel," Brett says.
Matt says he agrees with Brett about most things, but "the wearing of plastic shoes is not one of them".
When the couple first met, Brett didn't even own a passport. That quickly changed.
"That was one of the first things he bought me when we started dating. Then we went to Hong Kong for two weeks," Brett says.
"Another time we went to a travel expo just for a look, and we ended up with round-the-world tickets. The travel bug had bitten me."
As for Matt, he "left home and the country the same day" at the age of 20.
"I lived in London and travelled around Europe, Africa and the US before I came home. When I met Brett I was determined that he was going to become a traveller whether he liked it or not," Matt says.
The pair believe they bring a "fresh view and a different perspective" to the show.