Originally written by Spectator-Observer Partnership
HARROW’S first Beaut Blokes weekend has been hailed a success.
On the weekend, 80 women from Geelong and the Surf Coast, Melbourne, Shepparton, Bendigo and as far away as Sydney, headed to the town to be paired with 80 of the district’s lovelorn blokes.
But it is too early to tell if there are any blossoming romances to come from the weekend.
Organiser Ange Newton, who runs the historic Hermitage Hotel, hatched the idea to help address the serious problem of a lack of women in the area.
Women leave the area and head to the city for education or work and most don’t come back.
The weekend was designed to show the city girls what life in the country is about, and introduce them to some of the area’s bachelors.
“I’m confident things have gone well Ñ I reckon we’ve pulled it off,” Mrs Newton said.
She said the aim of the weekend was to come out to the country, have a great weekend and to see how the other half lives.
The weekend attracted media attention Harrow has not seen before.
With journalists and photographers from more than six newspapers, four film crews, including an international one, and even the BBC placing a call to the area, the weekend has put the town on the map.
By Sunday morning, satelitte dishes from two Melbourne TV stations took pride of place in the town’s main street.
With one weekend over, Mrs Newton has already begun organising the next one, to be held in August, and already half of the positions for women are taken up.
On Friday night the men met their buddy for the weekend.
The buddy was not a date, and each man had to introduce his buddy to the other 79 men.
The night was spent getting to know the others better, and proved good business for the pub which used six kegs of beer, compared to the average of two for a Friday night.
The girls took part in farm activities on Saturday morning, with some getting the chance to shear their first sheep. In the afternoon, the Beaut Blokes and their buddies went off to the football, with Harrow-Balmoral putting on a good show, winning easily over Rupanyup.
On Saturday night the blokes and buddies danced the night away at the town hall and then on Sunday visited a clearing sale.
Many of the men and women confirmed they would think about coming back in the future.
The weekend also proved a boom for the area, with gate takings at the football club almost double, and the Pigeon Ponds Oval Reserve committee catering for 600 on Sunday afternoon. They normally cater for about 60.
More pictures Ñ Page 12, and see Thursday’s Spectator for more about Harrow’s Beaut Bloke’s weekend.