Mcleod's Daughters: articles

Aaron Jeffery and Simmone Jade Mackinnon

Aaron Jeffery and Simmone Jade Mackinnon

Simmone Jade Mackinnon says goodbye to McLeod's Daughters

Simmone Jade Mackinnon is picking herself up after the shock axing of McLeod's Daughters, even though the show's finale means she's out of work and home too.

The 35-year-old actor was "devastated" when McLeod's creator Posie Graeme-Evans arrived at the South Australian set last November to break the news that the series would draw to a close this year.

After surviving major casting shake-ups, funding dramas and a drought, Mackinnon says the cast and crew were taken completely by surprise by the show's axing.

After all, McLeod's has attracted reasonably strong ratings and consistent Logie nominations — and wins — for eight years, all amid persistent rumours of its imminent demise.

When the end finally came, Mackinnon was stunned to find herself unemployed and staring down the barrel of paying off a mortgage on her new farm.

"It was horrible — Posie and Andrew (Blaxland, Graeme-Evans' husband and a McLeod's producer) turned up and we knew that couldn't be good," she says.

"She looked at me and said 'Go and do your scene, we'll talk afterwards'. She didn't want to make us upset before we had to shoot our scene, but, looking at her face, I knew.

"They never just turned up unannounced. I knew it was bad news."

With the rest of the cast and crew leaving town as soon as the final scenes were shot in March, Mackinnon remained at her Lyndoch farm hoping to forge a life there without McLeod's.

But with little or no acting opportunities in South Australia, Mackinnon soon realised she would have to travel to Sydney or Melbourne for auditions to secure work.

Accustomed to juggling a busy filming schedule on McLeod's, Mackinnon soon found herself "climbing the walls" of her isolated four-bedroom farmhouse.

"It's so sad," she says. "I really hoped to stay in South Australia, I loved it there.

"But it was very isolated and I was just sitting there all alone twiddling my thumbs — you should have seen my phone bills.

"I realised I couldn't do this week after week without going completely stir crazy."

Though most cast members based themselves in Adelaide and commuted to work each day, Mackinnon settled close by the set — first in Gawler and then last year buying the farm in Lyndoch.

She is a country girl at heart, but as a working actor Mackinnon may have thought twice before buying the farm had she known McLeod's had only a few months left.

"I don't want to sound like I'm whingeing about it," she says. "I know how lucky I am.

"It was always going to be a gamble to buy a place there."

Mackinnon has moved back to her father's house in Coffs Harbour, with Sydney a short flight or "just six or seven hours' drive" away.

Despite being forced to leave her beloved horses at her newly purchased dream home in Lyndoch to pursue new acting roles, Mackinnon is starting to feel optimistic about the future.

"You got me on a good day," she says with a laugh. "Now that the move is over I'm feeling pretty good about the change.

"But ask me again in a month's time, if I'm still unemployed."

Mackinnon is finding it difficult to adjust to having so much free time.

Even after five years playing feisty redhead Stevie and seeing many of her castmates and close friends leave the show, Mackinnon says she had never considered quitting McLeod's.

"Five years on the one show was great. I was still loving it. Why would I want to leave and risk unemployment when I already got to go to work every day and do something I loved?" she says.

"It probably would have been easier to accept the close of the show if I had started to want to do other things. But now that it's happened I'm embracing it."

Mackinnon is hopeful she may be able to "do a Russell Crowe" and one day have the sort of career success that allows her to spend part of the year on the land.

But that doesn't mean she is planning to head to Hollywood.

Mackinnon says she's tried life in the US and now considers herself too old to go back for seconds.

Before McLeod's, Mackinnon did the Hollywood thing and managed to score a role on Baywatch: Hawaii.

"I've been there, done that and it didn't happen for me," she says. "I know a lot of people say it took 10 years before it finally happened for them, but I'm too old to wait that long now. I want to be home and working."


Carter won the seventh series of Dancing with the Stars in 2007 and now appears in an ad for children's cough mixture. The actor lives in Byron Bay with her husband and young son, Otis.
Character: Tess McLeod
Last scene: 2006

The 29-year-old actor appeared in the ill-fated series The Alice and episodes of the Foxtel series Chandon Pictures, as well as Channel 7's All Saints.
Character: Becky Howard
Last scene: 2003

Jeffery has been on the Gold Coast shooting a lead role in Channel 9's new cop drama The Strip.
Character: Alex Ryan
Last scene: 2008

Starred in the kids' TV series Double Trouble and has a small role in the new X-Men Origins: Wolverine movie, with Hugh Jackman.
Character: Nick Ryan
Last scene: 2006

The New Zealand-born actor is now focusing on her music career, having released her first album — inspired by her time on the McLeod's set — in 2006. She had a small role in the miniseries Small Claims and starred in a stage production of Educating Rita.
Character: Claire McLeod
Last scene: 2003

Filmed Law Dogs, a pilot for US network CBS starring Janeane Garofalo that was not picked up. Appeared in the first series of Cane, with Jimmy Smits. Is rumoured to have a role in a new Channel 9 series, Strike Team, starring Georgie Parker.
Character: Jodie Fountain-McLeod
Last scene: 2007

The former Police Rescue actor recently completed a guest stint in All Saints.
Character: Meg Fountain
Last scene: 2007

Played a terrifying killer in Wolf Creek and had roles in the movies Rogue and The Final Winter.
Character: Terry Dodge
Last scene: 2006

By Siobhan Duck
July 23, 2008
Herald Sun