Growing up, they also find Ditch Davey on the sand. He loved capturing the tops of a wave; the excitement of hunting down the next barrel. Surfing, like many sports he attempted, was a simple choice for his athletic frame, so much so that he barely talked about trying interests outside of surfing, such as acting.
One day, however, his beloved shrine became aggressive when he found himself in a vicious brawl on the beach. The case, which Ditch admits he “wants never existed,” in his youth was not necessarily a good experience, but it guided him to become the guy he is today.
When I was young, there was an incident, and although it was terrible, I was grateful in a way, because it gave me the life I have, “Ditch, 47, reflects.” “Next week, I sold my board and plunged into the theatre. My sister had encouraged me to pursue theatre, and I had said, ‘No way!’ [Laughs] But finally I did it – out of necessity, something – and realized that I loved it.
It is a lesson about which the actor continues to learn, even now.
“The scars we both have in our lives,” says Ditch. “It’s how you look at their impact. It gave me so much on both sides of the incident and opened a door that I never knew was even a possibility.”
Home away from home
Decades on, with several acting parts under his belt, for example in Blue Heelers, Spartacus, and The Gloaming, Ditch is back on the beach – Sydney’s Palm Beach, to be exact – where he’s filming Home And Abroad. The new doctor in town, Christian Green, plays the star.
“It’s funny how life happens,” says Ditch. “Because I just got acquainted with the beach in the last couple of years – and the kids are keen to get down there – and now I’m in Home And Out.”
He adds that traveling across the world and staying in Melbourne hasn’t given them a lot of time on the sand.
“I’ve worked in a triangle pattern between Australia, New Zealand, and America for a lot of my career, so I was very busy doing those loops,” he says. “Suddenly something came up and I thought,’ Let’s do it.’ Throughout my profession, I have always been versatile, but it was more the character’s trajectory than anything else that pulled me in.”
Ditch, his wife Sophia, and sons Eden and Taika packed their bags and headed to Sydney after getting the call to begin filming. For the kin, during the global pandemic, the timing of the relocation brought both heartbreak and relief. In New South Wales, Victoria was at the cusp of a second surge (which has since come to fruition), and the Home And Away team took the requisite precautions.
“When we were shut down, I was filming for two days, so it was a bit of a false start,” Ditch remembers his first set days. “But it’s been devastating to see it unfold from afar with all that’s happened in Victoria, as my family and friends are all there. I’m glad to be here, though, and get into this new job.”
Like other Australians, Ditch has watched the long-running series over the years, but “after all this time” walking into the Summer Bay universe gave him a pause for thought.
“It was nice to be part of the massively rich tapestry that is Home And Abroad,” says Ditch with a grin.
“It’s cool to have my fingerprint on it. “I’m very grateful to be working with some good people. Penny is a pleasant girl [McNamee, who plays Doctor Tori]; bright and bubbly. Working with her has been great – we have built up trust in each other. It makes it easier for you to create better work together as it happens.
It can be exhilarating and quite overwhelming for beginners to work on an output like Home And Away. Like a well-oiled engine, the busy routine, and quick speed at which they do work. It is also characterized by cast members as more of a lifestyle than a job.
But Ditch was primed, having won his stripes in many classic Aussie dramas from 2001 to 2006 including Blue Heelers. Not only did his role as Evan “Jonesy” Jones start his public image but he won the 2002 TV WEEK Logie Award for Most Successful Young Male Talent.
“I have always been thinking that Heelers was my apprenticeship,” he says. “It was amazing, and a lot of people were watching me do my apprenticeship. [Laughs] So what a great performance to cut your teeth on. I was lucky to have been able to do it as long as I did.”
With the unforgettable characters of Mount Thomas associated with the actors who played them, the police series has been rooted in popular culture. Ditch, who will mark the 20th anniversary of his character’s debut in 2021, also refers to his part sometimes.
“Blue Heelers set me up for every single production I made,” he says. “If I go to new shows, I come back to the familiar or I tap into something, whether it’s about my job or if I’m studying the facets of development.”
“In fact, the last time I left Sydney was to do Heelers [which was shot in Melbourne] so it was amusing to think of coming back for Home And Away nearly 20 years later.”
While Ditch stays silent about the prospect of a reconciliation with the Blue Heelers, when he does, he stays in touch with his former colleagues.
“We see each other in many and diverse contexts – be it in the creation or at social gatherings,” he says. “It has always been a family show and we’re all feeling honored to be part of it.”
Family is the future.
Given Ditch’s promising career, he has yet to see his children in play. Most of the time, it’s because of the essence of the shows in which he appears and how perfect it is for a young audience. But with his role in a drama as family-friendly as Home And Away is, it could all change.
They haven’t seen a lot of the things that I did, particularly the youngest, “he says.” “But they are eager to watch Home And Away and I too. When they were a little younger, they used to come and play with Nerf guns [toy weapons] or raid the table of craft facilities.”
Dad’s job, for now, is as good as a sandbox. But should Eden and Taika take more interest in his career down the track, Ditch will be delighted to see them follow his example.
“I’m glad to see them forge their own course whether they want to do it or not,” he says. “The fact that they grow up to be healthy, productive people is more important to me.”
The ditch is not running through anything as to his future and what it might bring. He wants, like his children, to “live in the moment and be happy.”
“Whatever I do and wherever I am in the country, I am very glad to be there,” says the star.
“I’m quite thankful and I don’t want to skip the moment. In terms of driving around, life can be very turbulent-you wake up often not knowing where you are! [Laughs] So I want to position myself, plant my feet, and just enjoy myself.”