Alone Australia

Rain, freezing cold, wildlife, illness -but the biggest challenge in bold new SBS series may just be loneliness itself.

“This program features trained survival experts. Do not attempt this yourself,” warns new SBS series Alone Australia.

It would surely be a brave individual attempting to replicate the circumstances of this survival series, based on the US original.

Why would you want to be deserted in the western Tasmanian wilderness, having to fend for yourself without the assistance of a camera crew and producers? It rains 250 days of the year, it’s freezing cold, and there are all kinds of animals (snakes, Tasmanian devils and more) lurking nearby.

Maybe for the $250,000 that is awarded to the last man / woman standing, or maybe just for the sheer bragging rights.

10 individuals, ranging in ages from 22 – 52, come with a serious backgrounds: hunters, adventurers, army vets, wildlife officers, bushcrafters and farming. This diverse bunch are not your typical reality contestants seeking Instagram careers.

Yet the format is still a TV competition. The rules are simple. Survive on your own longer than anybody else and you win. The problem is, participants have no idea whether their competitors -who are isolated up to 10km away- have “tapped out” by calling producers on a satellite phone.

Secondary Teacher Beck describes her slice of Iutruwita / Tasmania as “scary beautiful” in between her numerous F-bombs as she comes to grips with the reality of her circumstance. She will soon fear “eyeballs on me” … yikes.

Rewilding Facilitator Gina is practically delerious running around barefoot on wet moss. “The only way I’m coming out of this is if they pull me out,” she insists.

Planning and Environmental Manager Rob, a Maori father of 2, starts by paying his respects to the land and traditional owners.

Iraq War Army Vet Chris is determined to set up his tarpaulin quickly before her realising he has located himself beneath a huge wasp’s nest. Bummer.

As well as perils from animal, there are risks from ‘widowmakers’ (falling limbs in extreme winds), water with bacteria, hypothermia, starvation, assorted injuries and possibly the biggest threat of all: loneliness.

If reality TV is about conflict and manipulation, the conflict here is either with mother nature, or self. To that Alone focus on 4 or 5 different participants per episode so that the narratives are not too overwhelming for the viewer.

Participants have been trained to self-narrate their actions: “I’m going to try this water. You should always boil water, they reckon,” says Chris.

They also have to film their activites using a range of go-pro cameras on both tripods and hand-held (the dizziness factor is high for viewers here). But it all adds to the purity of the format, with no camera crews or producers out of shot, like Survivor has. This is much closer to Bear Grylls…

The series includes ‘factoid’ titles on screen about environment, wildlife, history, dangers and more. It all adds to the learnings you would expect of a public broadcaster (even if there is a commercial TV prize on offer).

It has to be said the shots and vistas from ITV Studios Australia are stunning. Dead trees lurch out of the water like a Lion King wilderness, making a haunting landscape -filmed adjacent to locations used in The Bridge. Frankly, you could come for the competition, and stay for the scenery.

Alone has gathered a big fan base from viewers who are mesmerised by the way solitude transforms its participants, but I suspect there will be others frustrated by the lack of cast interaction. That could make it a polarising series, but make up your own mind.

Above all, there’s nothing else like this on television and that -alone- makes it worth checking out.

Alone Australia double episode premiere 7:30pm Wednesday, on SBS.

8 Responses

  1. I like being on my own you just can’t beat, but the trouble being in your own world though it’s a sad day if you argue with yourself and loose you can’t blame anybody.

  2. If you’re interested, I recommend Seasons 4, 5, 7 and 8 of the US version. May include reference to the finest “only in America” name I’ve ever heard: Randy Champagne.

  3. I’ve just finished Outlast on Netflix, and loved the survival in the wilds aspects. Reading now that this is set in a landscape near where the Bridge was filmed… I am in!

  4. so you really liked this huh?(yeah dummy that’s what 4 1/2 stars means…lol).just by the ads it seems kinda grim,wonder how it’ll rate..on streaming which i guess will be the key?gotta ask…how much of this programming do you get before its released…like a couple of eps or the whole series?

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