Life

TV Quickfire: Much more to Jane McDonald Cruising Down Under than luxury ships

Cruising with Jane McDonald Down Under sees the star (55) return to Australia to explore in depth what Oz has to offer. We quizzed her about the show

Jane McDonald – this show is liberating for me because I'm doing things that I never in a million years thought I would do

WHAT CAN WE EXPECT FROM JANE MCDONALD CRUISING DOWN UNDER?

I think it's going to make you smile – and if you don't smile, there's something wrong with you. We did two sets, east and west coast, and then we cruised the west coast and we flew. So we've done trains, planes, automobiles, everything. We did the rainforest and the Great Barrier Reef, which we couldn't have done to the same extent on a cruise. So we have done half on land and half on cruise, so it's Jane Down Under more than just cruising with...

HAD YOU BEEN TO AUSTRALIA BEFORE?

I'd only touched on Australia. We did Australia and New Zealand for two days previously, and I said, 'You can't just do that, we need to come back'. And we did. We've done everything Australian you can think of. I drank lager, I've bought the hat, I've seen dingoes, koalas, crocodiles, camels.

HOW DID YOU GET ON WITH THE WILDLIFE?

I'm not good with animals, so I have to put myself into the zone. When I got the koala, it was like, 'You have to channel your inner tree'. So I didn't speak. I was petrified, thinking, 'They've got big claws and if they don't like you, they'll let you know'. Koalas are not cuddly. They've got really flat backsides and they're really heavy – like a five-year-old child in my hand. And I'm not great with dogs either, so [meeting] the dingoes was quite frightening when they were all coming up and having a sniff.

WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT THESE ADVENTURES?

Challenging myself. The older you get, the less you care. And now I don't mind that my hair looks a mess, and I don't mind if I've got no make-up on, which I would never have done in my 40s. Now I'm just thinking, 'Who cares?' This is who I am. If you don't like it, switch over.

SO IT'S NEVER TOO LATE TO GET OUT THERE AND TRAVEL?

The only thing I'm going to say is, don't tell yourself you can't do things. This show is liberating for me because I'm challenging myself and doing things that I never in a million years thought I would do. Like jumping off the [Auckland] Sky Tower. That is something I will never forget. Swimming with crocodiles – something else I would never have said yes to. But when your bosses are saying, 'Get in there, it will be fine', you do it. And I'm glad that I've done these things.

YOU ARE VERY EXCITABLE ON SCREEN – IS THAT THE REAL YOU?

It's definitely not put on. When you go on your holidays and it's somewhere amazing, if you just go, 'Oh that's nice', what's the point? People have saved up a lot of money to go on these trips and I've had so many letters from people going, 'Thanks for doing that cruise because I've just booked it' or 'We've just come back off that cruise and it was amazing'. I'm so glad people enjoy it; it shows you what you can do when you go on these ships. A lot of people go on a cruise and don't even get off.

WHERE'S NEXT ON YOUR LIST?

India. I've seen it on telly, thinking, 'I'm not gonna like that...' But then again, I'm on a 5-star, 6-star cruise, so it's my own fault if I don't enjoy it, isn't it?

:: Jane McDonald Cruising Down Under will air on Channel 5 on Friday January 4.

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