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Where is SAS: Australia filmed? Inside the “mystery” base camp

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If you thought Australian Survivor looked tough, military-style reality show SAS: Australia will be a shock to the system. As a fresh batch of celebrities set out to face the toughest physical and mental challenges of their lives, we take a look at their brutal living conditions deep in the Aussie wilderness.

WATCH: Ali Oetjen reveals what SAS was really like

The recruits, including The Bachelor Australia alum Anna Heinrich and former Home and Away star Orpheus Pledger, will say goodbye to their creature comforts and be pushed to their limits by a team of elite ex-Special Forces soldiers.

Conditions on the set of SAS: Australia are not for the faint-hearted. But where is the mystery “undisclosed” location where the recruits will be put to the test? All three seasons have been filmed in New South Wales, though the base camp location has been different each time.

While the first season was due to film in Queenstown, New Zealand, the production was halted in March 2020 due to the pandemic. Filming ended up taking place in Jindabyne in the Snowy Mountains in July/August.

Filming for the second season was moved to Capertee Valley near the Blue Mountains, due to the near-freezing conditions of the previous year. Unfortunately, the move meant that filming occurred during the mouse plague of 2021 and recruits described waking up to mice crawling over them on a regular basis. No thank you.

This year, base camp is an abandoned coal mine just outside of Dapto, a few hours south of Sydney. How tranquil.

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The base camp for the new recruits is as brutal as ever. (Credit: Channel Seven)

With each season I try to switch things up; that way, the participants will never know what they are coming into,” Chief Instructor Ant Middleton says of the new location.

“This isn’t some yoga retreat where you go find yourself. It’s going to be a harsh, brutal lesson from day one.”

As with other seasons, the recruits will sleep on a cot bed with one sleeping bag and an army blanket, with the stars reportedly averaging about five hours of sleep a night before taking on the intense tasks the next day.

Recruits do not have access to hot water, instead needing to fill a bucket of cold water from a tap and carry it to the “sink area” – with one sink allocated to dishwashing, and another to wash themselves in.

There are also no flushing toilets, only short drop toilets that must be cleaned out and maintained by the recruits, just like every other aspect of base maintenance.

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The recruits have two sinks for washing and four drop toilets to share. (Credit: Channel Seven)

Not only is there no hot water at base camp, there’s also no heating. Which means the contestants have to chop wood and light fires every night as a source of heat to keep themselves warm and dry their wet clothes.

No personal items are allowed, but the recruits are given a “house on your back” – also known as a Bergen, which contains every item they need.

The 20kg bag contains items they need for survival including two sets of kit, a helmet, chest harness, sleeping mat, tarp, towel, water bottle, knife, mess kit, mug, toilet roll, sanitising wipes, sunglasses, headtorch, notebook, pencil, toothpaste, toothbrush, belt, armband, whistle, watch, sleeping bag and compass.

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The recruits sleep on cots in the freezing base camp. (Credit: Channel Seven)

And if all that wasn’t enough, there’s also the incredibly difficult tasks the recruits must face in the long hours they spend away from their super comfortable home.

In the first 48 hours of the new season, recruits will be set alight, almost
drowned and made to conquer a fear of heights.

So it makes sense that the series has led to a number of brutal injuries, with the stars suffering ailments including torn ligaments, cracked rib cartilage, bruises and cuts. The doctor – who recruits must seek approval from the DS to visit – used more than 290 Band-Aids, 72 metres of strapping tape and 1,000 alcohol swabs in just two weeks of filming. 

And while they may not be facing the mouse plague this year, there were 22 leeches extracted from cast and crew during filming and four pythons were spotted at base camp. 

We know it’s meant to be tough, but every new detail we learn about this series earns a big fat “nope” from us. Likewise, contestant Locky Gilbert’s partner Irena Srbinovska tells WHO she would never sign up. Especially after seeing him train for the show.

“I’ve never seen anyone train like that, it was hard to watch,” Irena admits. “He’d be in the water holding a tyre above his head with waves just hitting him and I’m like ‘oh my gosh he’s going to drown’ and his trainer was just like ‘nope, leave him’.

“And Locky said, had he not done that training with Alex, he doesn’t think he would have been okay on SAS. He thinks his training was the ideal preparation so it was all worth it in the end.”

the 2022 SAS: Australia recruits
The 2022 SAS: Australia recruits have their work cut out for them. (Credit: Channel Seven)

And Irena isn’t the only one who thinks this season of SAS: Australia was incredibly hard on the contestants. DS Ollie Ollerton says this year is tougher than ever.

“This is psychological warfare from the DS and also self-created by the recruits. This season is brutal from the ground up,” he says. “The recruits’ accommodation is grim, the tasks are incredibly challenging and the finale is epic.”

Consider us hooked and ready to watch, safe from the comfort of our own homes.

SAS: Australia premieres February 21, 7:30pm on Channel Seven and 7Plus.

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