Ben and Jackie Gillies on the excitement that drew them to compete on The Amazing Race Australia

'It's the thrill of the unknown.'

By Lucy Croke
On the day her twin boys were born, The Amazing Race Australia: Celebrity Edition's Jackie Gillies recalls her husband and Silverchair drummer, Ben Gillies, had an epiphany.
"I was lying there after my C-section and Ben looked at me and said, 'I need to write a book,'" Jackie, 43, tells TV WEEK. "'I don't want my boys Googling me when they're older and piecing together stories from the internet – I want them to hear it from me. I want to be raw and honest, and I want my boys to be proud.'"
The book was a "healing experience." (Image: Supplied)
Jackie, a psychic medium, says Ben's recent autobiography Love & Pain, which he co-wrote with bandmate and friend of 40 years Chris Joannou, was a "healing experience" for her husband and something he wanted to accomplish for their children.
"This was about Ben being transparent and opening up about his mental health struggles," The Real Housewives Of Melbourne star says. "He'd never spoken about his alcohol addiction, but he also wanted to celebrate the success of Silverchair, because he always says, 'If it wasn't for the fans, we wouldn't be known and we couldn't do what we do.'"
For Ben, putting pen to paper was a cathartic experience.
"Writing that book, retracing memories and shared moments, was a mix of emotions," the 43-year-old says. "Chris and I wanted to be brutally honest and vulnerable. Some parts were like therapy, while others took a bit to dig deep into."
"Ben is calm and I have my fiery Croatian side." (Image: Supplied)
Digging deep was something Ben and Jackie had to do on The Amazing Race Australia: Celebrity Edition. "It was like being in a pressure cooker," Jackie says. "Ben is calm and I have my fiery Croatian side. His collectedness got us through a lot of the challenges."
While Ben jokes he and Jackie are as different as "night and day", he believes their differences became their strengths during the race.
"When one of us was down, the other would step up," he says. "We balance each other out like that."
Ben says he was excited by the opportunity to do The Amazing Race.
"It's one of those life experiences you chase," he says. "The thrill of the unknown, the sheer excitement of what each day brings – that's what drove me to it."
While Jackie loved the Amazing Race adventure, being away from two-year-olds Rocco and Bonham during filming proved trying."I got really emotional a few times," she says. "I missed my chipolatas [her nickname for the boys] so much."
"It's the longest we've been apart since the boys came into our lives," Ben adds. "I missed them so much, but in a way, they gave us strength – hopefully, they can watch us back one day and be proud of their mum and dad."
Jackie and Ben had an emotional ride on the way to the birth of their sons, having to go through seven rounds of IVF and suffering a miscarriage along the way.
Ben with the twins, Rocco and Bonham. (Image: Instagram)
"When I heard the heartbeat, everything was fine," Jackie recalls. "The next time we went and the heartbeat wasn't there, it really affected me."
Jackie had just left filming in the jungle for I'm A Celebrity...Get Me Out Of Here! and was 38 when she embarked on her IVF journey and was confident that becoming pregnant was going to be easy. Now, she urges young women who are delaying having children to freeze their eggs so as not to endure the same trauma.
The couple now have the life they've always dreamed of with their sons, in part thanks to Jackie's psychic abilities and passion for "manifestation".
Years before she became a mum, Jackie famously predicted, on TV, that she was going to have twins. As a teen, she had a poster of Ben on her wall and not only told her mother she was going to marry him one day, but when she was 29-and-a-half and single, told her father, 'I'm going to be married by the time I'm 30.'
Jackie famously predicted, on TV, that she was going to have twins. (Image: Instagram)
"Dad told me I was crazy," Jackie says with a laugh. "But after running into Ben at a party a year prior, and a year of platonic friendship, we kissed. Two days later, he proposed with the exact ring I had on my manifestation board [a collage of images and words representing one's dreams and goals], and I was married the day before my 30th birthday."
Jackie even manifested her role on TV show The Real Housewives Of Melbourne after falling in love with The Real Housewives Of Beverly Hills.
"Without even knowing a Melbourne version was in the works, I'd been put forward by a producer friend that same week," she reveals. "I went to a casting and one of the directors was testing me. I told her, her grandfather was next to her and his name was Josef. She said I was wrong, and that his name was David.

"She eventually went away and called her mum. After some back and forth, they learnt he went by David, but his name was originally Josef, and was a Holocaust survivor. She asked, 'How did you know that?' I said, 'Because I'm a psychic and I'm going to be on this show!'"
Jackie was the first to be cast for the series, which ran for five seasons from 2014. Now, she runs a 12-week online program, TransformU by Jackie Gillies, that helps others manifest their ideal lives. Ben, meanwhile, hints that he has some music on the way.
"Music is in my veins," he says. "There's always a chance of some new tunes coming your way, whether it's solo or some other collaboration."
Regardless, the couple hope to return to television after The Amazing Race, one way or another.
"I'd love to do some kind of psychic show where I go to someone's home and transform their lives," Jackie says.

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