Can city slickers survive in the outback?

City Slickers, they wouldn’t last 5 minutes out here… or would they?

To mark the Year of the Outback, ABC Local Radio decided to put that notion to the test. Three ‘city slickers’ have been sent to remote parts of Australia for one week to see how they’d cope and the results have been chronicled in a new series called City Slickers. Former ABC journalist and presenter, Ellen Fanning has returned to the ABC to present the program, which is on ABC Local Radio this month.

A Sydney housewife and mother from one of Sydney’s most exclusive suburbs agreed to step into the shoes of an Outback woman on a cattle property just south of Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory. The manager of a stylish cocktail bar at the Sydney Opera House signed up to tend bar at the rambling Grand Hotel in Hughenden, Far North Queensland. And a final year vet student from the suburbs tried “a country practice” on for size, spending an exhausting week travelling all over the Top End.

Fanning went on location with the three participants to test the mettle of the city slicker, the patience of their rural “host” and their collective preconceptions. She will present the outcomes in three, 30 minute specials during Christopher Lawrence’s Sunday evening program on ABC Local Radio between 8 – 9pm.

Throughout the series, we hear the stories of the people and places of Outback Australia. In each story the “city slickers” confront the hardship of isolation, heat and flies and learn something of the strong bonds of community and friendship that exist between people who live thousands of kilometres apart.

City Slickers was produced under ABC Radio’s Regional Production Fund. Ellen Fanning is a freelance journalist living in Sydney. She was presenter of ABC Radio’s AM program before moving to 60 Minutes on the Nine Network. She has never lived in the Outback but now knows more than any city girl should about conducting pregnancy tests on cows and semen testing bulls. Producer Peter Dredge is a freelance media producer living in Sydney. Peter recorded more than 100 hours of tape for “City Slickers” and served as the editor for the project. He has always wanted to live in the country and have a job where he can go barramundi fishing at lunchtime.