For Australian farmers, of course, geography alone adds an extra challenge; for a few of the men in this season, popping into the nearest city can be a day’s drive.
The most remote contestant this year is 28-year-old farmer Alex, a sheep and cattle farmer from a station in Cunnamulla in outback Queensland (almost 800km east of Brisbane, with a population of 1200). Describing himself as a “love virgin”, he is, as you might expect, the most larrikin of the five farmers, from his battered hat to his Queensland drawl.
Life with grape, cotton and sheep farmer Harry, 28, might also pose a challenge – he lives in Goolgowi in remote western NSW.
Fruit farmer Sam, 27, has the tropical climate of Innisfail, Queensland, on his side – and his Italian mother and nonna, both of whom make several appearances bearing home-made food.
Then there’s Neil, 42, a divorced father of three who works as a Merino farmer in Crookwell in NSW, and the season’s most urban farmer, 44-year-old Nick, a vineyard owner from Tasmania who has spent the past couple of decades living in LA, and has the jewellery to prove it.
Each farmer begins matched with eight women, who, by the end of the first episode, have been whittled down to four, with one woman chosen to take to their respective farms 24 hours ahead of the rest.
So far, quite fast-paced, but the format has had a few tweaks, and within a couple of episodes most of the farmers have bent the ‘rules’ and, rather than sending home one woman on the required nights, have kept them all on. A dangerous tactic that, tantalisingly, threatens to see a couple of our farmers completely ganged up on by their prospective wives as the season progresses.
There are also more group dinner parties and some surprise twists, possibly to ramp up the drunken antics and gossip among the different groups. But by the halfway point, there’s been only some tispy arguments and nobody has come close to the kind of bitchiness of other dating programs. Even when there’s a suggestion that one of the “ladies” (as the farmers refer to them) fancies a crew member rather than her farmer (shades of UnReal?), everyone remains relatively civil.
There’s PG-rated drama though, and tears – lots of tears. And the collision of outback and city, as ever, keeps things fun, from one woman, a vegetarian, freaking out when she realises where the sheep she’s just herded are going, to a weary farmer Harry revealing that the experience is nothing like he expected. “You’ve gotta talk to girls all day about feelings”.