Reality TV

Jackie and Ben Gillies Spill On The Amazing Race Australia: Celebrity Edition

"I thought I was going to go in there and kill it."
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Choosing to temporarily leave behind her two-year-old twins, Bonham and Rocco, in the capable and loving hands of their grandparents to head off on the adventure of a lifetime wasn’t an easy decision for Jackie Gillies. But in the end, it was her rocker husband Ben who convinced the psychic and The Real Housewives of Melbourne star that the pair needed to sign up for the 2023 celebrity edition of Ten’s The Amazing Race Australia.

“Reality TV isn’t really Ben’s thing, he only went on Housewives to support me,” Jackie tells WHO. “But when this opportunity came up, he said, ‘These are the amazing experiences that people chase and no-one gets to do this.’ So we had to do it.”

WATCH: The Amazing Race Australia: Celebrity Edition 2023 Trailer. Article continues after video. 

Jackie and Ben, both 43, met as teenagers living in Newcastle before reconnecting in 2010 after running into each other at a party, and were headed down the aisle just months later.

They welcomed their twins in October 2021 after several rounds of IVF. So it didn’t matter how intense things got on the show, high pressure situations seem to bring the pair closer.

“I thought I was going to go in there and kill it but it was really Ben with his calm and level head, who really likes to take his time and do things properly, who was the most valuable player,” Jackie explains with a laugh. “As women, it can be hard to take time like this, but I really think that making time for yourself and your partner makes you a better mother, a better lover and a better everything. It’s a lesson we’ll take home with us too, that we need to take more time out to nurture our relationship.”

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If you’ve seen Real Housewives, you’ll know that Jackie enjoys dressing up and is used to the finer things in life. So she definitely found herself thrust a bit out of her comfort zone when they jetted off to India to start the race in the chaotic streets of New Delhi. But if you think it’s all for show and the celebrities are kicking back in five-star luxury in-between legs, Jackie says you’re wrong.

“We were definitely slumming it,” she exclaims. “I grew up very humbly so was OK, but at the end of the day it would have been nice to relax with a wine and a little luxury because who doesn’t love that? But no, that wasn’t the case.”

As for the thing she missed most? Aside from her boys, of course, it was her weekly massage!

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Jackie and Ben, who was a drummer for Aussie rock band Silverchair, found themselves lined up against celebrities including AFL WAG and influencer Bec Judd and Olympian Jana Pittman. When it comes to who she found to be her biggest competition, she was surprised to find out it was former Yellow Wiggle Emma Watkins and her sister Hayley.

“She is so creative and kind and I think I expected her to be a bit more laid-back,” Jackie reveals. “But man, her and her sister, they’re guns. Hats off to them. Their process and demeanour is very calm which allowed them to creep up and just annihilate some of the teams.”

As an in-demand psychic medium and reality TV royalty (Jackie also starred on the fourth season of I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here! in 2018), she’s used to being in the spotlight. But at the moment, it’s her husband who is making headlines.

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The musician and his former bandmate, Chris Joannou, have recently released their memoir, Love & Pain.

The book, which was written without the band’s third member Daniel Johns, shares Ben and Chris’ story of going from childhood friends rehearsing in a garage in Newcastle to achieving worldwide fame before the band broke up in 2011.

“When we had our sons, something clicked in Ben and he really wanted to share his story so the boys could learn about the truth of his experience and not what is out there on Google,” she says. “I’m so proud of Ben.”

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