THE Sunshine Coast's newest TV star has never had an acting lesson, never set foot on stage and has never appeared in front of the camera.

But he is set to win the hearts of the nation as the rookie jackeroo in Channel 10’s new ob-doc Keeping Up With The Joneses.

Maroochydore’s Jeff O’Connor left his beachside lifestyle behind and headed north to Coolibah Station, 1000km outside of Darwin, for a new life in the outback.

His journey features heavily in the series which starts tomorrow night, and let it be told that it is a fascinating one.

“It was definitely an eye opener,” Jeff said of his trip to Coolibah.

“You don’t think people still live like that, but you get out there and it’s very real.”

From the relative suburbia of Maroochydore, Jeff headed to a life where vigilance for crocodiles and snakes is a constant reality, and in the vastness of the outback travel by helicopter is as common as by car.

“I’d never been anywhere like it,” Jeff said.

“I came in on a road train and there wasn’t much to see – trees, dirt, road and not many buildings. I think we went past one pub.”

Despite having to trade in his board shorts for jeans and his Billabong cap for an Akubra, the young helicopter pilot found himself feeling right at home in his new digs in no time.

“I missed the ocean, just being able to have it there and see it, but it’s always good to have a bit of a change,” Jeff said.

“It was cool going pigging with the dogs and doing things like that.

“It really makes you understand where everything comes from. If you don’t go cut up a beast you don’t get to eat, or if one of the boys doesn’t go fishing you only eat beef for a month.”

Jeff’s plan at Coolibah was to get more experience at the helm of a helicopter after earning his licence here on the Coast, and when he finally got up in the air he found himself doing plenty of activities that most of us can’t even imagine.

From mustering cattle from the air instead of on horseback to shifting croc traps and other adventures straight from the Dangerous Book For Boys, it was five months the budding heartthrob won’t soon forget.

Not that it will be easy to forget with his time at Coolibah documented for the world to see in Keeping Up With The Joneses.

But don’t ask him if he is a TV star in the making.

“I haven’t even thought about that really,” he answered shyly.

“I haven’t even told too many of my mates much about it… not until I see it, then I’ll have a chat.”

You can find out for yourself when Keeping Up With The Joneses premieres tomorrow night on Channel 10 at 8pm.



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