Alone Australia – meet the SBS survivalists doing it tough in Tasmania

Ten survivalists head into the wilds of Western Tassie with big dreams but, ultimately, there can be only one.

Could you survive alone in the wilderness? Well, for most of us, probably not. But that’s the question being asked of contestants in Alone, the Australian iteration of the global hit series, premiering on SBS this evening.

The pitch is as follows: Ten Australian survivalists will be dropped in the remote wilds of Western Tasmania/ lutruwita, completely isolated from the world and each other, stripped of modern possessions, contact and comforts, to self-document their experience – the last one standing winning $250,000.

So basically The Hunger Games but (hopefully) much less violent.

As well as surviving, the ten contestants have to self-document their respective adventures in isolation, counting only on themselves for food, water, shelter and warmth, using nothing but what’s in their pack and what they can find around them.

With no information about the other participants, and no knowledge of how many still remain and how many are back at the SBS studios taking a bath and having a nice warm cup of tea, the participants will push themselves for as long as they can. Only when they reach their absolute limits, or just really fancy that cup of tea, will they tap out, one by one, until only one survivalist remains, who may at that point ‘go dark’ and live undetected in the Tassie undergrowth forever more but will more likely come in from the cold to claim their substantial winnings.  

For those of you watching at home with biccies and a boiling kettle rather than trying to make a hammock out of eucalypt leaves and drinking river water from your shoe, the ten galahs – sorry, ‘survivalists’ – are below. May the odds be ever in their favour!

Beck, 42. School Teacher, VIC.

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Beck is a secondary school Science and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) teacher and grandmother. She’s the matriarch of her small family; her partner, four children, two grandchildren and a plethora of farm animals.

An earthmother, Beck grew up with camping and fishing playing a constant role in her life and leisure activities. She feels more at home in the outdoors than anywhere else, and she consciously steers her time in favour of being out bush and throwing out a rod as often as possible.

She’s excited to embrace this opportunity to represent women in their 40s and First Nations women of the LGBTQI+ community and, most importantly, to be an inspiration to her children and grandchildren.

‘I’m resourceful, I’m a problem solver, I’m bloody stubborn, but I’m not a survival expert. I’ve grown up camping and fishing and been out on Country, I’ve learned from my Elders and friends who are great outdoors people… though I’ve never been away from my partner; I’m ready to test myself!

Chris, 39. Army Veteran, TAS.

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Chris lives a self-sufficient coastal lifestyle alone with best friend Billy, his loyal Jack Russell, his extensive vegetable plot and his chooks.

A retired war veteran of Iraq living with PTSD, Chris finds being alone with nature, on the coast and away from the lights and sounds of the city incredibly restorative. An avid fisherman, abalone and crayfish free diver, a self-sustaining beach, ocean and spear fisherman, Chris started creating and sharing content around his fishing escapades as a way to connect with people going through similar trauma after service. 

His goal is to push himself to his limits, and in doing so, to demonstrate to others like him that anxiety disorders do not have to define or inhibit activity and that submerging oneself in nature can be a powerful and effective healer.

Whether it’s diving in the ocean, camping, or exploring the land, all I know is that a life lived outside in the elements is where we as humans belong. It’s the only way for healthy minds. That’s where I live.

Duane, 35. Wildlife & Environmental Officer, NSW.

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Duane is a fun-loving Wildlife and Environmental Officer and keen recreational surfer. His career has spanned from the military to the Fire Service, and now to the land, where he traps animals for research. 

A proud First Nations man and a gushy father of two, Duane is constantly seeking a deeper connection to Country and sees Alone as the perfect opportunity to live as his Ancestors did and to bring his family closer to their heritage. 

He has a profound appreciation and awe for how his Ancestors thrived on Country for thousands of years, and he hopes to be guided by their footsteps through this experience.  

I know my Ancestors were out there for thousands of years, but they had family and clans. This is a whole new way of being on Country, just me by myself, so I’m looking forward to that challenge within this experience!”

Gina, 52. Rewilding Facilitator, NSW.

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Rewilding facilitator, bushcraft teacher, meditation leader, barefoot nomad, singer, dancer, and primitive huntress … for this multidisciplinary creative, the bush is where Gina feels most at home. 

Living off grid in a tin shack with no running water or power, Gina oscillates between the quiet of her secluded coastal property homelife and a very loud and colourful work life, running large group rewilding courses and camps for adults and children. 

After navigating her way back through serious trauma and loss in her life, Gina doesn’t scare easily; any fears she has about testing herself are very practical ones. 

I’ve spent my whole life learning how to be in the wild and be a part of nature rather than apart from nature. A challenge like this, to go out into the wild, full survival, is something I’ve dreamed about since I was a kid … I can’t think of anything I want to do more!

Jimmy, 22. Farmhand & Engineering Student, SA.

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At 22, Jimmy is the youngest of the ten, but by no means the least experienced. He’s been hunting since he was five years old and has spent most of his years since learning to self-provide from the land through practice, trial, and error. 

Jimmy is completing a Civil Engineering course but prefers farmhand work to being confined to buildings and offices on campus in the city. He’s a very active member of the small farming community he lives in and volunteers as a CFS firefighter.

At home, Jimmy raises, butchers, and processes his own livestock and grows his own fruit and vegetables on the property. 

I’ve spent most of my life being outdoors and learning what I can from nature and seeing how far I can go just on my own without having to rely on others … Ever since I saw the very first episode of the first US Alone series, I knew that was exactly what I wanted to do!

Kate, 41. Wildlife Biologist, ACT.

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Kate grew up in regional South Australia and left school early to start a five-year military career in the royal Australian Navy before leaving to study science at university.

After a PhD she’s now Dr Kate; a wildlife biologist and expedition leader, working in remote parts of Australia to discover new species of plants and animals. She has spent a career learning about Australia’s unique flora and fauna.

Kate has practiced bushcraft since she was a little girl, building shelters, finding water, making spears, weaving baskets and lighting fires. Frustrated that the local scouts would not accept her because she was a girl, Kate spent a lot of time immersed in nature on family camping trips.

Kate now lives in the ACT with her partner Elsie. They recently welcomed their first child, a baby girl. She is Kate’s biggest joy, so leaving behind her six-month-old to hopefully inspire her when she grows up has been a big decision for Kate. She also hopes to inspire many more girls to embrace a love of science and biology, to enjoy the outdoors and to seize every opportunity that is a challenge.  

I’ve learned to think how animals think and understand their behaviour. I can identify species from tracks, traces and their calls. I’m not going to be in a rush to kill our native species as I’ve worked so hard to protect them, but I’m keen to take a shovel so I can target the unseen food, right under our feet; tubers, roots and other edibles.

Michael, 43. Vet & Bush Regenerator, NSW.

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Michael lives with his wife and two children on over 500 acres, running the family farm and tending to his livestock; 120 sheep, 14 cattle, six donkeys, one horse as well as 175 000 bees and fruit and vegetable crops.

With a Bachelor of Veterinary Science, Bachelor of Applied Science – Medical Radiation Technology – Nuclear Medicine, Diploma of Conservation and Land Management and a Certificate IV in Business Management Diploma as tertiary credits, Michael worked as a veterinarian in his own practice for 14 years before selling the business to focus on his farm as well as his new passion – bush regeneration.

A committed Christian man who takes his faith seriously. In spite of the fact that he enjoys the quiet of his own company, Michael‘s beliefs will be a source of strength to him at times when the isolation and loneliness prove toughest.  

My favourite thing is to do what someone else says can’t be done. Necessity is the mother of inventions and few things we choose to do are actually impossible. 

Mike, 45. Solo Adventurist, NSW.

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Mike lives on the central north coast of NSW with his wife, two children and his chocolate labrador Ollie. Up until recently he was a full-time pilot in the Australian Defence Force. He has also put his skills to the test outside the military during many extended private expeditions around the world. He likes to test his survival theories in extreme environments which have ranged from arctic colds to the extreme heats of middle eastern desserts.

The extreme outdoors, photography and filming are his passion – this is what led Mike to resign from the military and its secure income to pursue his dream of setting and completing his own solo expeditions and filming them to share the experience with others.

Mike has completed three major self-funded and self-filmed expeditions; one across the Kimberley, another across a Saudi Arabian desert with his own camels, and the other an 1846 shipwreck survivor escape scenario along the Far North Queensland coast in a self-constructed dugout canoe.

I’ve grown up spending a lot of time out in the bush doing a lot of solo survival. It really is my passion. My experience from my last adventure is that you really do get in tune with the landscape, so to have the opportunity to stay in the one spot for a long time and just really tune into it … that will be amazing.

Peter, 31. Hunting Guide, NSW.

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As soon as Peter’s fine motor skills were developed enough to hold a tool in his hands, he was out hunting and fishing with family, learning the skills, dexterity, and smarts of the craft as well as the intricacies of the physical and mental game. He has refined these skills over many years of practice and carried them through into adulthood, making him the much sought-after hunting guide that he is today.

As the lead guide on his hunting expeditions, Peter has worked across a wide range of terrains and in a variety of weather conditions, survival situations and natural environments and is confident in his experience, knowledge, and abilities when it comes to the safety and survival requirements of this challenge.

Peter has never gone hunting without his rifle or bow, or his chosen survival equipment so this Alone experience will be an all-new experiment for him in largely untested waters. 

I’m adaptive, I’m inventive, I’m very strong-minded – in my line of work you need to be! I have people from all around the world come hunting with me here in Australia. Everything I’ve learned from all over the years of survival skills, hunting skills, fire, water, trapping, skinning, the whole lot; this is the one, ultimate place for me to put all my skills to the test.

Rob, 41. Planning & Environmental Manager, VIC.

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Rob is a proud family man who lives regionally with his partner, teenage son, and baby girl. He cherishes his role as a father and places critical value on raising his family with an appreciation and understating of Country through lived exposure and experience – fishing, camping, and hunting as a family as often as possible.

In addition to his work as a Planning and Environmental officer, Rob guest lectures at universities on Indigenous knowledge systems from around the world. He is a proud First Nations man and has worked with Indigenous communities in Australia for 20 years on conservation land management.

 Rob will never describe himself as a survival expert – he remains humble about his abilities and recognises there is always so much more to learn. With Indigenous knowledge systems being experiential, and heavily shaping Rob’s education, he strongly subscribes to the proven practice of teaching and learning being an immersive communal effort in attaining the knowledge and skills required to thrive on Country.

Depending on whose Country I’m on will determine how well I survive. There will be places in Australia that I’m more comfortable with than others in terms of knowing what to look for and how to thrive.

Alone Australia will be available to stream on SBS On Demand with subtitles in five languages: Simplified Chinese, Arabic, Vietnamese, Traditional Chinese and Korean. The series will also be available with audio description for blind or vision-impaired audiences.

Alone Australia premieres on SBS and SBS On Demand on 29 March, 7.30pm.

Paul Dalgarno is author of the novels A Country of Eternal Light (2023) and Poly (2020); the memoir And You May Find Yourself (2015); and the creative non-fiction book Prudish Nation (2023). He was formerly Deputy Editor of The Conversation and joined ScreenHub as Managing Editor in 2022. X: @pauldalgarno. Insta: @dalgarnowrites