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Building Blocks

Casting call

Australian ratings juggernaut, The Block is known for pushing boundaries (and contestants) to the limit. The 2022 season is no different. In its 18th year, The Block: Tree Change brings contestants to regional Victoria to renovate five family homes on 10-acre lots in just 12 weeks.


To help get the massive job done, The Block team needed equipment they could rely on – so it was only natural that they partnered with Kubota Australia for this never-before-seen renovation job. Co-creator and Producer, Julian Cress, said they decided to hold this season in Gisborne to reflect the urban exodus brought on by COVID-19. “You always want to tap into what the audience is aspiring to, and in this case we opted for a tree change season. We bought the land in August of last year and the very first phone call I made was to Kubota,” Julian said.


“We called up out of the blue and said, ‘there’s no way we’re going to be able to make this show on the geography of this location without your help’. We’ve never made a series of The Block where we’ve needed a fleet of excavators. We needed to cut 70-acre pastureland of waist high grass before we could even break ground. This is where the Kubota tractor and mulcher came in and allowed us to prepare for the building team.”


Prior to the contestants’ arrival onsite, the footings for each house were constructed using Kubota excavators.

“It was the busiest day in The Block’s history; we had 350 people working onsite and at least a dozen excavators operating activities. There’s just no way we would have been able to do it without the Kubota equipment,” Julian said.


Directors of Nine in Six Builders and The Block veterans, Andrew Simmons and Aiden O’Shannessy, said the sheer logistics of setting up the site was immense, even for The Block. “We had six weeks to get the houses up and ready before the interior building began. Just getting things from A to B, and the amount of machinery we needed as well, has been massive,” Andrew said.


Completing his 12th season to date, Aiden O’Shannessy said this year has been different to any of his work on The Block before. “The sheer scale and size, along with the rural nature of the land, added a whole layer of complexity for us – and the partnership with Kubota has been vital to us executing the project,” he said. “We’ve had a wide variety of machinery on-site at our disposal, and the quality and reliability has been second to none. The SVL75-2 was so efficient, I’m planning on buying one for myself,” he continued.

Nine in Six’s OH&S representative Dean Hard echoed the monstrous effort required from the get-go, and detailed the incredible capabilities of Kubota’s machinery. “The Kubota team were amazing to deal with. They were helpful and responsive to everything we needed, the communication was seamless,” he said.

The star of the show across the worksite was undoubtedly Kubota’s fleet of two and four-seater RTV’s, the saving grace for Julian. “We’ve never made a series of The Block where we’ve needed RTV’s to move our crew around. It’s a huge logistical exercise and we would not have been able to do it without Kubota’s support,” said Julian. The mud was challenging, and the weather was too. We didn’t know it going in, but we filmed during the coldest start to winter since the Second World War. It was cold, wet, and we were up to our knees in mud throughout the whole site. The RTVs became absolutely critical, because you couldn’t navigate around the site without access to rough terrain vehicles,” he said.


Dean said the RTV’s were a hot commodity on The Block site, and often pinched if left unattended.

“They allowed us to have a quick response to making decisions across each of the properties. From moving and labour to filming the show, the Kubota RTV’s were a godsend. They were so important and integral to what each team was doing,” he said.

Easy-to-use Kubota equipment has been a much-needed time-saver, with several workers easily obtaining their license on-site to tackle one of the most challenging seasons in The Block history.


“It was difficult from a building permit stage as we only had six weeks to have the houses up and ready for the contestants. We’ve had a few guys get their licences and tickets while being here to get the job done and it’s been easy compared to other machines you find on the market,” Aidan said.


As filming went on, the contestants also received equipment training and were officially ticketed into operation.

“They were able to get in there and help their landscape teams to save money and do some of the work themselves. The contestants were on excavators moving rocks and mulch where it needed to go, it was a huge success,” said Julian. “For contestants, it was an enjoyable process but also a valuable addition to their skill set, and they were easily able to get the job done instead of paying someone else to do it,” he said.


Producers, builders and contestants all agree this season has been the hardest yet.


“The Block takes a special kind of person to get through it, it’s the hardest three months of anybody’s life but also the most rewarding. In the first season of The Block 20 years ago, contestants renovated just 73 square meters in 12 weeks – but this year it was 40,000 square meters,” said Julian.


For the Nine in Six team it was no different, with the team working long hours, six days a week and averaging 25km of walking a day. “Everyone has their moments however we have a great team who support each other through it,” Dean said.


“Knowing we had Kubota involved for such a huge season gave me peace of mind heading into the job. I’m yet to see Kubota deliver a bad piece of equipment. The vast array of machinery allowed us to get things done efficiently and under pressure. To see the contestants jumping in so easily to help really says it all,” Aidan said.


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