The Block is back with a promise to be the ‘biggest’ ever.
It’s a claim made every season by the show’s host, Scott Cam. But this time around, it might actually be an understatement. It’s massive.
This year, The Block swaps the city for the countryside of Gisborne South in the Macedon Rangers. Some 40-minutes from the heart of the Melbourne CBD, it’s a ‘Tree Change’ that sees contestants tackle renovations on a mind-boggling scale.
And as Scott Cam tells TV Blackbox, it required contestants to think big and dig deep to get the job done.
“You’re right. I say ‘the biggest and best Block ever’ most years because we base that on square meterage and size.
But this year is, without a doubt, the biggest show anyone has done anywhere in the world.
It’s huge. I was calling it The Village because that’s what it reminded me of. We had intersections and carparks and we had a shop, selling coffee. And the village square was out the front of my place.”
Scotty’s ‘place’ is the property’s original farmhouse that dates back to the 1860s. This season, we see him ‘on the tools’ restoring and renovating the homestead.
“It was really run down, so it was pretty much a rebuild. We kept the front of the house, restored it to former glory. It looks exactly like as it was when it was first built.
Then added a new section to the back; a new pavilion and a new kitchen, lounge/dining. A couple of bedrooms and it turned out absolutely terrific with the big open fire-place.
I had a building team with me like the contestants did. I had the right carpenters, sparkies, plumbers, plasterers and all that sort of thing. I designed the rooms with the help of the Block Shop.
I wanted it to have a very simple, contemporary-country feel. Not too over the top.”
Scotty’s Place became a focal point for the couples as they worked on their own homes on a 10-acre block of land. Each home is at least 300 meters from another house.
It meant there was little opportunity for the interaction (and the drama) of previous seasons.
But the end results are impressive. Even Scotty admits to being amazed by what the contestants have managed to pull off.
“I’m always amazed by what they come up with and the finished product is very much up to them.
10 acres is a really good tree change.
10 acres is enough where you can have your chooks and vegies, a tennis court, a bit of a vineyard – you can do whatever you want, you know?
That’s what I love about 10 acre blocks.”
The Block: Tree Change was born of Melbourne’s Covid lockdowns that prompted executive producer Julian Cress to relocate his own family to the area.
Scott believes the Tree Change will appeal to many potential buyers and if the country location isn’t enough to entice them, the property’s sustainability design features might just get them over the line.
“Geo-thermal technology for the heating. It goes down about 30 or 40 metres below the surface.
It’s amazing. We’ve got 7-star rating for sustainability. The sewage is recycled.
We’ve got solar farms on each 10-acre block and we’ve got 50 batteries. You’ll never be ‘on grid’ ever.
Your water is on site. 250-thousand litres per house. You’ve got all the water you’ll want.
So, it’s a fully sustainable, 10-acre block that once you purchase, you don’t pay out anything besides rates.”
The Block: Tree Change reunites Scotty and co-host Shelley Craft while judges Shayna Blaze, Neil Whittaker and Darren Palmer will again deliver their verdicts each week.
The five couples who start the journey on day one are: football player Joel and influencer Elle from Bondi; Tom and Sarah-Jane from Melbourne; actress Sharon and accountant Ankur also from Melbourne; tradies Dylan and Jenny from the Gold Coast; and former professional rugby player Omar and building maintenance man Osman from Western Sydney.
But within days one couple leaves and is replaced by Ryan and Rachel from Sydney, who make the move to Melbourne with just eight-hours notice.