Heather Ewart returns with a new season of BACK ROADS on ABC

image - ABC

ABC TV’s much-loved series with a big heart, Back Roads, returns with an epic journey from one of the world’s most remote cattle stations in desert country to one of the most spectacular landscapes in the heart of central Australia.

Suplejack Downs, on the edge of the Australia’s third largest desert, the Tanami in the NT, is  home  to  the  Cook  family,  whose  backyard  spans  more  than  400,000  hectares.  The nearest petrol station is a five-hour drive on a red-dirt track and it’s an 18-hour round trip just to go to the shops.

While it’s an exciting place to grow up, presenter Heather Ewart learns how the extended family’s two teenagers and five children under the age of 12, access an education that will allow them to take their place in a fast-changing contemporary society.

It’s a very different education from the vast majority of Australian kids. From a very young age, the children learn how to change a tyre and look after their horses and cattle, as well as 21 dogs, chooks, a camel and even an orphaned joey. They learn to juggle that with a normal school day, through classes beamed in via satellite from the School of the Air in Alice Springs.

During Heather’s visit, the Cook family prepares for a week-long bush ride, initiated by the children’s inspiring mum and aunt, Tiani Cook. The aim of the ride is to raise awareness of the challenges of getting an outback education. Before the ride, the Cooks travel to Alice Springs,  9-hours  south,  where  the  kids  get  a  rare  chance  to  hang  out  with  their classmates from other remote areas.  From Alice, they travel west through Tjoritja, the magnificent West MacDonnell Ranges, to the Glen Helen Gorge where their week-long ride back to Alice Springs begins.

On  the  way  to  Glen  Helen,  Heather  meets  another  family  who’ve  embarked  on  an extraordinary tree change. Former primary school teacher Nadia Gardner, senior ranger Paul Gardner, and their three young kids, have swapped suburbia for the spectacular Ormiston Gorge National Park. They’re not only living the dream, but their kids are also growing up in one of the most beautiful backyards in the world.

Back Roads, Series 5, Ep 1 Glen Helen, NT
Monday at 8pm on ABC