Amazing Race Australia – who is most likely to win, surfers or ‘farmers’?

I’ve never watched a reality TV series before so don’t know what sort of person usually wins these contests.  Because there’s two people from outback Australia involved in the first series of Amazing Race Australia and I know many of the Warriner family, I had to watch.  And barring unforeseen bad luck or events completely out of their control (which is after all the deliberately fostered uncontrollable dimension, such as random egg timers,  that brings those with a good headstart back to within reach of the tailenders – making results a lot less predictable and keeps viewers on the edge of their seats), it is obvious that the two teams of young, fit blokes are by far the most likely eventual winners of ‘Amazing Race Australia’.   These are Matt Nunn (western Qld) and Tom Warriner (NT), and Tyler Atkins and Nathan (Bondi NSW, but originally from the Gold Coast, Qld).

And it’s no co-incidence that two of these Amazing Race Australia contestants were born and bred in the bush (Tom and Matt) and the other two are keen surfers (Tyler and Nathan).  It is not often pointed out, but surfers and ringers or stockmen (referred to in the Amazing Race Australia series by the southern Australian term ‘farmers’ and also by the American term ‘cowboys’) have a lot in common.  They are all early rises who prefer being outdoors to inside an office, they do what they do in all sorts of weather – roasting hot, freezing cold and in the rain – and they have a very high level of practical physical fitness (as distinct from gym-induced fitness – muscles which may look fancy but not actually help in practical ways or indicate a good level of endurance, which is of course mental as well as physical).  There are many keen Australian surfers who have successfully headed bush to work on cattle stations and sheep properties.  The additional edge that rural residents have is problem solving skills.  Anyone who has grown up in the bush learns to deal with adversity and solve all sorts of problems on their own or with minimal assistance from anyone else, as a matter of course.

These are the type of blokes who have an unusually strong, positive can-do attitude.  They entered really believing 100% that  they can win.  When given directions they get going straight away and figure it out as they go rather than sitting around cogitating.  No fuss, no bother, no quarrelling and when the pressure’s on, they just run faster instead of arguing about what should be done.   When things don’t go well they don’t waste time and energy squabbling over who caused the error, they just get on with getting back on track.   The bushies (‘cowboys’/’farmers’) and surfers are the only two teams who are consistently doing well without having arguments or fights along the way.  Rather than focusing on one another they’re concentrating on the end result.  Ironically, the two teams most likely to win due to natural ability actually make for much less dramatic TV viewing than some of the other teams.

It’s also no surprise they are blokes.  Just as it’s not realistic for women to be in the SAS (for example, being required to run with a heavy pack and gun while carrying an injured male soldier to safety – I don’t think so; only women on steroids have that sort of endurance) it is almost all blokes doing the most physically demanding work on cattle stations (on the calf cradle all day, shoeing large numbers of horses, etc).  It’s not politically correct to say so, but that’s the reality of it.  The numbers of women working on Australian cattle stations has increased dramatically in recent years, however they excel in areas where patience and gentleness are paramount – that’s why horsewomen are preferred by many when it comes to certain jobs – such as educating weaners (young cattle).  Women survive by using brains rather than brawn and on the larger cattle stations blokes do have the physical edge because the hours and long and the work physically demanding.  While brains are required to do well in Amazing Race Australia, it’s obvious a high level of physical fitness and endurance is vital in order to get through each gruelling stage. 

Two teams carrying backpacks while racing up steep temple steps to the stage finishing mat?  The physically fittest who have the best single-minded ‘I can do this whatever it takes’ attitude (more commonly a male trait than female) will beat the rest.  If all things were equal and Amazing Race Australia was determined by mental and physical ability alone, it would either be the surfers or the bushies (‘cowboys’) who would win the series.  Given that surfers Nathan and Tyler have figured out that Tom and Matt are the most likely threat to their success and plan to give them the dreaded ‘U Turn’ if given the opportunity, it will be interesting to see what happens.  We will have to stay tuned to see who won ‘Amazing Race Australia’ (it was filmed in November & December 2010).

The unique coffee-table style books ‘A Million Acre Masterpiece’ and ‘Life as an Australian Horseman’ contain nearly 500 photos of stockmen (including mates of Tom & Matt) at work on Australia’s largest outback cattle stations – in the Northern Territory, western Queensland and Kimberley region of Western Australia.  For more info, check the Book info page.

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