Outback Nation is the latest offering from Australia’s most popular ex-pat landscaping guru Jamie Durie, and is a reality DIY gardening show done American style; with alligators, snakes and even armadillos.
"It’s kind of fun watching these American families that have these really neglected backyards get their hands dirty." Jamie told me when we caught up recently, "And not just that, it forces them to face their fear. I get them to camp out in their backyard while we work on the yard. I think it’s pretty good TV."
Jamie, with the help of the family transform their huge, neglected, often animal infested backyard into a useable, beautiful space all while camping out and all in just four days. Each episode follows the process of Jamie slashing his way through the yard, designing a new space based on the family’s wants and then getting in and undertaking:
1. Dig out
2. Build out
3. Plant out
"Some of these yards are enormous, like a hectare. We can’t touch all of it so we pick out the best spots. We also need to deal with the fact that there are now often animals co-habitating there. One family had a 13 and half alligator sharing their backyard and getting into the pool. That’s not safe."
Now, call me a cynic but I was a little dubious about the broad Aussie ‘G’Day’ that greeted each new family; surely it’s a bit of overplay for the US audience but Jamie assured me it wasn’t…
"I’m a G’day kind of guy. I’m an Australian guy. A proud Australian. That’s just how I am naturally. And I think that’s part of the secret to my longevity on television, in the industry; being authentic. Viewers can smell a fake a mile off."
Jamie Durie is at a point of his career where he is happy to consider himself a TV veteran.
"This is actually my 52nd TV series between Australia, the US and Asia. While sometimes, to me, it feels like only 5 mins, it’s been 17 years. A friend reminded me just the other day. I started on TV in 1999 with Backyard Rooms on Channel 9 and then Dig This on Foxtel. And now I’m back on Foxtel, I’m back home"
"I always have believed that ‘the harder you work the luckier you get’ at least that’s the way it has been for me. I’m a bit of a perfectionist. I’m proud of what I do, I’m passionate about it."
"I divide my time between the US and Australia. I keep an office in Sydney and a home in Australia – I just chase the summer these days."
Look Outback Nation with Jamie Durie isn’t anything new but it is entertaining, and if you’re considering some backyard DIY (or have an alligator issue) then you can pick up some great ideas – I’m thinking you’ll probably need a bit longer than four days though. And always be careful when undertaking any DIY projects; even the professionals can get hurt,
"I dislocated my shoulder and broke two fingers,"
There was also a moment of miscommunication in episode two that saw a massive palm tree literally just miss Jamie,
"That was scary. That could have been the end of me."
Outback Nation with Jamie Durie premieres on Foxtel’s LifeStyle HOME Monday 2nd November at 9.30pm.