Jillaroo School saddles up on ABC

Jillaro School, a 6-part series that follows five wannabe jillaroos in the Australian Outback, premieres on Sunday February 1 at 6.30 pm on ABC.

Aged from late teens to mid-40s, the selected trainee jillaroos include Deb, a journalist who was recently made redundant; Janine, an indigenous woman looking for the skill base to run a cattle station with her family; and Tessa, a young single mum trying to build a new life for herself and her son.

They’ll be put through their paces by Bill Willoughby, one of Australia's best-known horse masters, on an outback property in the beautiful Southern Flinders Ranges.

With a dry wit and a story to tell, Bill is a salt of the earth character who pulls no punches. His wife, Barb, is there to share the tips and tricks of the trade – and a ready shoulder to cry on when the going gets tough. Assisting Bill with the training program is real life jillaroo and role model Stacey Smith and stockman Aaron Ryan.

For the next four weeks, horse riding, motorbike riding, quad bike riding, mucking out, saddling up, mustering and putting cattle through the yards are all just in a day’s work for the novice jillaroos. Some challenges prove more arduous than others as the women discover pregnancy testing a cow is a somewhat dirty job and fencing is just hard yakka. Ultimately, teamwork ensures success.

At the final challenge, each of the women proves that they have come on leaps and bounds with their jillaroo skills, successfully bringing a much larger mob into the yards on a much bigger property. They have also learnt a lot about themselves and what they’re capable of.

The producers are Jennifer Jones and Kristian Moliere of Triptych Pictures in association with Travelling Tale Productions. Developed and produced in association with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation and the South Australian Film Corporation.