Bush Lanterns – Dr Jillian Kelly

I am driven to improve agriculture and the viability of rural communities, and to show others just like me that we can do anything!” ~ Dr Jillian Kelly

Todays quote comes from Jillian herself. Jillian is based out of Coonamble where she is a large animal veterinarian…but her talents run deeper than being JUST a vet. Enjoy her amazing story that showcases determination, resilience and the importance of believing in yourself.


Pic: Firefly Images

Bush Lanterns is highlighting women in the rural and agriculture sector one amazing woman at a time! There are so many amazing and wonderful women who don’t always get recognised for what they do and I feel it’s my job to be able to bring them to you.

Every Tuesday I’ll introduce you to a Bush Lantern – if you like this series, please share the blogs and let’s get some serious momentum behind them so more and more people can read about these inspiring and motivated women.

If you have a woman you think is perfect for this series, then please get in contact: fleur@fleurmcdonald.com. I’d love to showcase them!

Pic: Firefly Images

Tell us a little about yourself, family and work?

I am a large animal veterinarian in Coonamble, NSW.  I grew up here, went to university in Sydney, worked in lots of different mixed practice clinics around Australia and the UK and returned home to work for Local Land Services a few years ago.  I’m the District Veterinarian for the Coonamble area, supplying production animal diagnostic and disease surveillance services to farmers.  I mainly see sheep and cattle and have extra qualifications in Ruminant Nutrition.  In my spare time, I’ve got a small farm, a large veggie garden, enjoy riding horses and camp-drafting and I paint under the name “Miss Vet”


What is your greatest achievement?

Some days I think just getting through the day is my greatest achievement!! Seriously, getting into vet school was an achievement (I didn’t get the marks and had to go through a side door into the veterinary degree which involved a lot of begging and pleading my case!) Finishing vet school was an even bigger achievement, I graduated with first class honours and was on the Dean’s List in fourth year, so for a girl from the country who didn’t get the marks, this was a mean feat! These days, just being a reputable source of reliable knowledge to the landholders I service is a great achievement that gives me a lot of satisfaction. It was nice to be featured in Cathie Colless’s recent book “Diamonds in the Dust” – the icing on the cake.


How did you get where you are today, and who/what helped you?

There have been lots of people who have helped me. My parents are the epitome of hard work and common sense and they set me up to be a hard worker dedicated to this rural community.  Dame Quentin Bryce was my college principal at Women’s College at the University of Sydney. She helped get me a scholarship, settle me into city life and was amazing when I fell off a horse in Centennial Park and broke my jaw in first year!  My first boss and my work colleagues at the Roma Veterinary Clinic taught me a lot about being a vet, about being a female in a male dominated industry (and not to take any rubbish!) and how to have a good time doing it.


You are an effective female leader. What drives you?

I’ve always been quite outspoken – very black and white. I don’t know what drives that, and I’m not even sure it’s a good characteristic, at least not all the time!!  But I am driven to improve agriculture and the viability of rural communities, and to show others just like me that we can do anything!  If you’re a girl from a small town, you can leave, go to university, get a degree, return home as a professional and have a very fulfilling career and lifestyle.  I think it’s also important that strong female leaders in the agricultural industry can still be feminine. We don’t have to wear jeans and boots all the time!  I often go to work in heels, a dress and love my pink lipstick…. And then more often than not have to chuck the overalls over the top and post mortem a cow or sheep!!


Name one thing about yourself that most people don’t know

I love Agatha Christie novels and have a secret crush on Magnum PI (random, I know).


What would be your advice to younger women who are trying to achieve great things in rural areas?

Seek out some mentors – people who exhibit the career objectives, personal characteristics, drive and energy that you want in your life.  There are plenty of these in rural communities!  Don’t be afraid to have a go. I find the more “goes” you have in life, the more successful you become. If you sit back and wait, you’ll get nowhere. Say “yes” to everything… or at least most things! This is another character flaw of mine I think – I’m the queen of burning the candle at both ends – but saying “Yes, I’ll be in that” can lead you into some incredible opportunities.  Finally, put on some pink lipstick and have fun!

Comments 5

  1. Jill that is a from the heart and honest story and truly hope hat this inspires so many more inspirational young people, male and female alike.
    I fully support your quest and admire the inspiration you bring to the bush.
    Wellington Arts will promote your venture and aspire to creating the same opportunities for many more in our communities.
    You go girl !!!
    Regards Lisa rabbit

  2. What an inspiration to every woman not just a woman from the bush.
    I am privileged to know Jill, she worked at a vet in our practice in England. My boss trusted her to leave his practice in her very capable hands. We had some good times out of work, but we all trusted her in work. We often talk of Jill and miss her terribly.
    Keep up the good work Jill and your always welcome back x

  3. Humble words from a girl who genuinely has rural Australia at heart and does both the jeans and boots and/or pink lippy equally well! Dr Kelly

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