SNAP HAPPY

Film­ing the rugged out­back life of Lit­tle Mil­ton has cre­ated a new pre-school star, writes Geoff Shearer

Herald Sun - Switched On - - Front Page -

MIL­TON JONES IS SET TO LIGHT UP THE SCREEN ON OUT­BACK RE­AL­ITY SE­RIES KEEP­ING UP WITH THE JONE­SES

P EEK­ING out from un­der his Akubra— a know­ing broad smile on his reddust hazed face— is the rugged yet hug­gable fouryear-old all of Aus­tralia is about to fall in love with.

Lit­tle Mil­ton Jones may have had lit­tle con­tact with city life, hav­ing grown up on his fam­ily’s re­mote cat­tle sta­tion smack dab in the mid­dle of nowhere in the North­ern Ter­ri­tory, but he em­braces an ev­ery­day spirit of ad­ven­ture and boy­hood en­thu­si­asm that is bound to leave city par­ents just a smidge en­vi­ous.

He turned four dur­ing film­ing of the doco-drama Keep­ing

Up With the Jone­ses that pre­mieres on Net­work Ten on Oc­to­ber 14. In true out­back style one present was a real, jaw-snap­ping crocodile hatch­ling.

‘‘ You got to wash your hands now,’’ he says some­what con­spir­a­to­ri­ally as I hand him back the croc with its nose-band still firmly fas­tened.

Lit­tle Mil­ton has kindly let me pet the 30cm rep­tile that could well grow into a maneater as his dad leads me around the gar­den at their home, Coolibah Sta­tion, six hours’ drive south­west of Dar­win. ‘‘ Sal­monella,’’ Mil­ton se­nior says. ‘‘ Crocs carry a lot of sal­monella. Lit­tle Mil­ton knows you wash af­ter touch­ing one.’’

The boy darts here and there, eas­ily dis­tracted, be­fore re­turn­ing to saunter cow­boystyle along­side us — one hand on his hip, the pet croc in his other hand, its eyes start­ing to bog­gle.

Lit­tle Mil­ton, though short on words, seems at ease with hav­ing strangers check­ing out his home. Show pro­ducer Ben Ulm says Lit­tle Mil­ton is not at all wor­ried by the cam­era crews doc­u­ment­ing the Jones’ lives for six months.

‘‘ He’s kind of lais­sez-faire about it now,’’ Ulm says as I wash my hands at a gar­den tap. ‘‘ He kind of gets it. But he just jumps out of bed and greets each day as a new ad­ven­ture.

‘‘ There’s some­thing about watch­ing him that makes me nostal­gic about the old days when we weren’t cov­ered in cot­ton wool and we weren’t so care­ful about what if lit­tle Johnny falls over and scratches his knee.

‘‘ I think peo­ple will watch it and they’ll see that here’s a dad tak­ing his three-year-old on a driv­ing les­son and hope­fully peo­ple won’t go, ‘ What if some­thing hap­pens?’ They will just go, ‘ Wow, I envy that a lit­tle bit’.’’

Not only does Lit­tle Mil­ton get driv­ing ex­pe­ri­ence sit­ting in Mil­ton se­nior’s lap be­hind the wheel of the fam­ily jeep

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