Peter FitzSimons

Peter John FitzSimons[1] AM (born 29 June 1961) is an Australian author, journalist, radio and television presenter. He is a former national representative rugby union player and has been the chair of the Australian Republic Movement since 2015.

Peter FitzSimons
BornPeter John FitzSimons
(1961-06-29) 29 June 1961
Sydney, Australia
OccupationJournalist, writer
Alma materUniversity of Sydney
Years active1987−present
Lisa Wilkinson (m. 1992)

Early life

FitzSimons grew up in Peats Ridge,[2] in the Central Coast of New South Wales. He was one of seven children. He attended Peats Ridge Primary School, and Knox Grammar School before going in 1978 to Findlay High School, Ohio,[3] for a year as an exchange student on an American Field Service Scholarship. He then completed an arts degree at the University of Sydney,[4] residing at Wesley College from 1980 to 1982.[5]



FitzSimons' club rugby was played first with the Sydney University Football Club and then with the Manly RUFC in Sydney in the 1980s under the coaching of Alan Jones.[1] Between 1985 and 1989 he played with CA Brive in France for four seasons as the club's first foreign player. He played seven test matches at lock for the Australian national rugby union team between 1989 and 1990, debuting against France in Strasbourg in November 1989, on the Wallabies 1989 tour of Europe. His final Test match was against the All Blacks in Christchurch.[6]

Former Wallabies winger David Campese has criticised FitzSimons for starting a brawl in Australia's first Test against France in 1990.[7]:117, 166 Campese labelled FitzSimons' actions "a disgrace to the good name of rugby"[7]:117 and asserted that "he was doing the game and its reputation enormous damage."[7]:166 Campese cautioned that if such fights "turn even one family away from the game, then they have been too costly".[7]:166

Former Wallabies backrower Willie Ofahengaue said of Fitzsimons: "He's a big character. Funny guy. Talkative. One thing I remember about rooming with him was he used to get his suitcase, tip it up and pour everything out on to the floor. When it was time to go home he would chuck everything back in any old way. Fitzy was a real roughie, but he is married now so he must have changed."[8]


FitzSimons has written for The Sydney Morning Herald since 1988,[9] and has been a sports columnist for that publication since 1987.[10] He regularly appears on the Australian Foxtel programme, The Back Page, formerly hosted by rugby league journalist Mike Gibson and now Tony Squires. For the Saturday edition of The Sydney Morning Herald, FitzSimons writes a column titled "The Fitz Files" which looks at all the happenings over the past seven days in sport. He writes a more general version of "The Fitz Files" in The Sun-Herald on Sundays, focusing on community activities and events in Sydney. Andrew Denton has called him "Australia's finest sports journalist".[11] On the 25 September 2001 he wrote a thought provoking opinion editorial piece titled Memo world: try saying sorry to avoid a sorry end.[12]


In January 2006 FitzSimons began co-hosting a breakfast radio program with Mike Carlton on Sydney radio station 2UE. He was brought onto the 2UE breakfast show in an attempt to boost the program's dwindling ratings.[13] However, the Mike and Fitz Breakfast Show still trailed a long way behind the number one program on 2GB, hosted by FitzSimons' former coach Alan Jones.[14] After two years, FitzSimons hung up the headphones to become a stay-at-home dad and focus on his writing.[15]


FitzSimons' published works include:

  • Basking in Beirut and other adventures with Peter FitzSimons. Allen & Unwin. 1991. ISBN 978-1-86373-052-5.
  • with; Kogler, Brian (1991). Little theories of life. Allen & Unwin. ISBN 978-1-86373-109-6.
  • Rugby stories: some rucking good yarns. Allen & Unwin. 1993. ISBN 978-1-86373-440-0.
  • Nick Farr-Jones: the authorised biography. Random House Australia. 1993. ISBN 978-0-09-182758-8.
  • Hitchhiking for ugly people: and other life experiences. Random House Australia. 1994. ISBN 978-0-09-182967-4.
  • The rugby war. HarperSports. 1996. ISBN 978-0-7322-5687-6.
  • Everyone but Phar Lap: face to face with the best of Australian sport. HarperCollins. 1997. ISBN 978-0-7322-6409-3.
  • with; Blair, Tony (1998). Beazley: a biography. HarperCollins. ISBN 978-0-7322-6521-2.
  • FitzSimons on rugby: loose in the tight five. Allen & Unwin. 1999. ISBN 978-1-86508-132-8.
  • Nancy Wake: a biography of our greatest war heroine. HarperCollins. 2001. ISBN 978-0-7322-6919-7.
  • John Eales: the biography. ABC Books for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 2001. ISBN 978-1-85291-644-2.
  • Nene. HarperCollins. 2002. ISBN 978-0-7322-7565-5.
  • Steve Waugh. HarperCollins. 2004. ISBN 978-0-7322-7647-8.
  • Tobruk. Pymble: HarperCollins Publishers. 2006. ISBN 9780732291563.
  • Great Australian sports champions. HarperSports. 2006. ISBN 978-0-7322-8517-3.
  • The ballad of Les Darcy. HarperCollins Publishers. 2007. ISBN 978-0-7322-8636-1.
  • And now for some light relief: the genuinely funny joke book. Ebury. 2009. ISBN 978-1-74166-901-5.
  • Kokoda. Hachette UK. 2010. ISBN 9780733626067.
  • Charles Kingsford Smith and those magnificent men. Pymble: HarperCollins. 2010. ISBN 9780732288198.
  • A Simpler Time. Pymble: HarperCollins Publishers. 2010. ISBN 9780730492511.
  • Mawson. North Sydney: William Heinemann. 2011. ISBN 9781742754581.
  • Batavia. North Sydney: Random House Australia. 2012. ISBN 9781864711349.
  • Eureka: the unfinished revolution. Random House Australia. 2013. ISBN 9780857981271.
  • Growden, Greg; FitzSimons, Peter, eds. (2013). More important than life or death: inside the best of Australian sport. Crows Nest: Fairfax Books. ISBN 978-1-74331-319-0.
  • Ned Kelly. Random House Australia. 2013. ISBN 9781742758916.
  • Gallipoli. Random House Australia. 2014. ISBN 9780857984562.
  • Fromelles and Pozières: In the trenches of Hell. Random House Australia. 2015. ISBN 9781742759517.
  • Gotta love this country!. Allen & Unwin. 2015. ISBN 978-1-76029-048-1.
  • The Great Aussie Bloke Slim-Down: How an Over-50 Former Footballer Went From Fat to Fit... and Lost 45 Kilos. Penguin Books Australia. 2016. ISBN 9780143781868.
  • Victory at Villers-Bretonneux: Why a French town will never forget the Anzacs. Random House Australia. 2016. ISBN 9781742759531.
  • Seriously ... you have to laugh: great yarns and tall tales from the sporting fields, dressing rooms and commentary boxes of Australia. illustrated by Reg Lynch. Allen & Unwin. 2016. ISBN 978-1-76029-399-4.
  • Burke and Wills: The Triumph and Tragedy of Australia's Most Famous Explorers. Hachette Australia. 2017. ISBN 9780733634109.
  • Monash's masterpiece: the battle of Le Hamel and the 93 minutes that changed the world. Hachette Australia. 2018. ISBN 978-0-7336-4008-7.
  • Mutiny on the Bounty: A saga of sex, sedition, mayhem and mutiny. Hachette Australia. 2018. ISBN 978-0-7336-3411-6.
  • The Catalpa Rescue: The gripping story of the most dramatic and successful prison break in Australian history. Hachette Australia. 2019. ISBN 978-0-7336-4124-4.
  • James Cook: The Story Behind the Man who Mapped the World. Hachette Australia. 2019. ISBN 978-0-7336-4127-5.

Community activity

FitzSimons is or was involved with a range of community organisations. He was a fellow of the Senate of University of Sydney from 2009 to 2013,[17] a patron of The Russell Prize for Humour Writing, State Library of New South Wales, since 2015[18] and chairman of the Australian Republic Movement since 2015.[19]

In the lead up to 2019 New South Wales state election, FitzSimons began a campaign to prevent the demolition of the Sydney Football Stadium and Stadium Australia. He began by launching a petition in late 2017 on that reached approximately 220,000 signatures prior to the election as well as numerous editorial articles decrying the demolitions. The stadium issue became a major element of the campaign with Labor leader Michael Daley calling the election a "referendum on stadiums".[20] On 5 December 2017, FitzSimons remarked on Twitter that the incumbent Gladys Berejiklian government could "bulldoze and rebuild three new stadiums, including Parra, for $3Billion – on no demand – or they can win the next election, but they can't do both."[21]

On 23 March, Berejiklian and her coalition were easily returned to government, with political commentators suggesting that the issue did not resonate with the wider community of the state.[22] The campaign had a minor success however, as the Government changed the original plan for a complete knock down rebuild of Stadium Australia, and instead would go ahead with a billion dollar refurbishment.

Personal life

FitzSimons is married to Australian journalist and TV presenter Lisa Wilkinson.[23] They have three children and live in Sydney.[24]

FitzSimons has identified himself as an atheist and a republican.[25]


On 13 June 2011 FitzSimons was named a Member of the Order of Australia for service to literature as a biographer, sports journalist and commentator, and to the community through contributions to conservation, disability care, social welfare and sporting organisations.[26][27]


  1. "Player profile of Peter FitzSimons". ESPN. Retrieved 3 October 2010.
  2. Mosman Sporting Wall of Fame: Peter FitzSimons' profile Archived 3 September 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  3. FitzSimons, Peter (21 May 2016). "Sorry if I offended anyone, but we're all a mob of bastards". The Sydney Morning Herald.
  4. Speaker Profile of Peter FitzSimons at The Celebrity Speakers Bureau
  5. FitzSimons, Peter (9 November 2013). "Given time, great colleges learn to fix their problems". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 4 December 2014.
  6. "Match report: New Zealand Australia, 21 July 1990". ESPN. Retrieved 4 May 2014.
  7. Campese, David; Bills, Peter (1991). On a Wing and a Prayer. Queen Anne Press. ISBN 0-356-17958-3.
  8. Courier Mail
  9. His first article as a Herald correspondent was "From the Wilds of France": FitzSimons, P., "The survivors of la Besse still remember", The Sydney Morning Herald, (Tuesday, 22 November 1988), p. 23.
  10. His first article as a Herald sports journalist was: FitzSimons, P., "French give Scots some pointers", The Sydney Morning Herald, 9 March 1987, p. 53.
  11. "Panelist: Peter FitzSimons". Q&A. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 26 February 2012.
  12. Peter FitzSimons (25 September 2001). "Memo world: try saying sorry to avoid a sorry end". The Sydney Morning Herald. Archived from the original on 5 February 2003. Retrieved 20 May 2019. We accept that such hate as drove the planes into the World Trade Centre towers can only have come from incredible suffering, and we are desperately sorry for that suffering
  13. Javes, Sue (23 January 2006). "The odd couple". The Sydney Morning Herald.
  14. "Mike Carlton quits 2UE radio breakfast slot". The Daily Telegraph. 7 September 2009.
  15. Connolly, Fiona (7 November 2007). "Radio battle for Fitz vacancy". The Daily Telegraph.
  16. "Republic no sure thing, says Peter FitzSimons" by Ben Packham, The Australian, 12 November 2018 (subscription required)
  17. "Fellows of the Senate: Peter John FitzSimons". University of Sydney.
  18. "NSW State Library launches humour-writing prize", Books + Publishing, 17 December 2014
  19. "Peter FitzSimons appointed head of Australian Republican Movement". The Guardian. 20 July 2015. Retrieved 3 September 2015.
  20. Smith, Alexandra (3 December 2018). "'I will not be bullied': Daley holds firm on stadiums policy". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 4 April 2019. The new Labor leader says the state election would be a referendum on stadiums
  21. Peter FitzSimons [@Peter_Fitz] (5 December 2017). "(untitled)" (Tweet) via Twitter.
  22. Hinds, Richards (25 March 2019). "Sydney stadium wars ended by Coalition's NSW election victory as people vote for an upgrade". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 4 April 2019. it is possible to say with confidence there was one thing Sydneysiders did not vote against — new or refurbished stadiums.
  23. "Galleries: 1992 Weddings". Perth Now. p. 4. Retrieved 3 March 2014.
  24. Clune, Richard (25 July 2010). "Today show hosts a perfect match". The Sunday Telegraph. Sydney. Retrieved 3 March 2014.
  25. "Is Religion a Con? A special evening with Peter Fitzsimons", 12 June 2012, The Independent Theatre
  26. "Peter FitzSimons AM". Australian Honours Database. Retrieved 13 June 2011.
  27. "Former Wallaby FitzSimons honoured". Australian Rugby Union. Australian Associated Press. 13 June 2011. Archived from the original on 19 July 2012. Retrieved 22 April 2012.
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