AUSSIE singer Shannon Noll has opened up about the hardships his family encountered after the death of his father in a farming accident - difficulties that endured even after his runner-up stint on the first season of Australian Idol.
Speaking privately to fellow campmate Fiona O'Loughlin away from the rest of the contestants, Noll revealed that today would have been his father's 73rd birthday. His dad had died of a brain injury following a farming accident before Noll became famous, wreaking a terrible toll on the family.
"It has ruined mum, you know. Mum is not so tough. She will never be the same… with the sons, we had our own kids and our partners, we had things to occupy our minds… but she is in a house in a cold bed every night. Just a constant reminder everywhere she turns.
"It's the hardship of getting left behind. [That] began for her then and it has never stopped."
On top of the emotional hardship came financial difficulties, as the family struggled to maintain the farm in their father's absence.
"We tried to farm our way out of it in the next two years. We failed because of the drought so we got enough rain to put the crop in and then it didn't rain at all after that. That cost $40 or 50 grand at a time for fuel, seed, spray. So we went further into debt."
At a family crisis meeting, the Nolls made the heartbreaking decision to cut their losses and walk away from the farm.
"Big business, though, they don't mind jumping on an opportunity I suppose. We just had enough to buy mum's house. I went on Idol. A few of the creditors were left over, they chased mum really hard for the shortfall," he said.
By this time, Noll had appeared on the 2003 debut season of Australian Idol, parlaying his reality TV stint into a hugely successful music career - his first two albums went eight-times platinum between them.
"I wrote a cash check out for $209,000 for a tractor company. I thought I was doing the right thing - I'd never run a business before. So I paid a lot of these debts out. Consequently all the big money I made after the show, I paid bills with it," he said.
"I didn't blow it on yachts and all that sort of stuff. Just paid [bills]."
I'm A Celeb screens 7:30pm Sundays - Thursdays on Ten.
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