Raining men in Merredin

Some of Merredin’s single blokes: Henry Hooper, Luke Swarts and Tom Melville.
Camera IconSome of Merredin’s single blokes: Henry Hooper, Luke Swarts and Tom Melville. Credit: Daniel Wilkins

It’s raining men in Merredin.

The Wheatbelt town 260km east of Perth is the hardest place in the nation for young blokes to find a single woman, according to calculations based on census data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

But, for the girls, it’s the easiest place to find a potential partner, with an average 394 single men for every 100 single women in the 20-24 age group.

It comes as no surprise to the town’s young blokes, who say it is not easy finding love in a place where the jobs are mostly farm and trade based, while many single women are lured to the city for its employment, social and education opportunities.

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Social demographer Bernard Salt, who calculated the figures based on the ABS data, said there was no man drought in Merredin.

Instead, there was a “man dam”.

“In Merredin (population 2600), there are 134 single men aged 20-24 and only 34 single women in the same age group. These numbers convert to a ratio of 394 single men per 100 single women. Merredin has a four-to-one surplus of single men. It’s raining men in Merredin — young men, single men, available men,” he said.

Unfortunately for the single men of Merredin, the nation’s hotspot of young single women is the suburb of Wagga Wagga in New South Wales, close to Charles Stuart University, with a ratio of 53 single men per 100 single women.

Merredin diesel mechanic Luke Swarts said finding love was like farming. “Some years, you get a drought and you’ve got to wait for a new season, some years, you harvest when you can,” he said.

“At the pub, it’s all lads, betting on the TAB and waiting for a lady to rock up. There’s not many women, so we’ve got to be patient. As soon as you hear a new backpacker has come to town, bang, there’s 40 blokes there. Sometimes you get a new school teacher, too. In Merredin, the girls are the lucky ones — they’ve got plenty of pickings.”

Panelbeater Tom Melville, a 24-year-old single, said hockey was the only mixed-gender sport to play but he had rejected that because he enjoyed playing for Merredin’s Nukarni Football Club too much.

“The jobs here are for farmers and tradies — not the sort of thing most girls want to do,” he said.

Henry Hooper, 21, another Merredin single who lives on a farm and works as an electrician, said he had considered moving but loved the country lifestyle and was not worried about finding love yet because “I’ve got plenty of time to see where life takes me”.

Burracoppin Football Club president and former AFL player Ian Downsborough, 46, said little had changed in Merredin, where he grew up, over the decades.

“When I was younger, we’d often go to Perth for the OBH (Ocean Beach Hotel) Sunday session, and you weren’t there just for the beer,” he said.

The ABS data shows it is also raining men in Harvey in the 30-34 age bracket and in Port Hedland among blokes aged 40-44.

Among singles aged 30-34, Mr Salt said the odds of finding a partner “range from 47 single males per 100 single females in Tasmania’s Wynyard to 210 single males per 100 single females in the farming community of Harvey, south of Perth”.

In the 40-44 cohort, he said single women clustered in the highest numbers in Yarrabilba near the Gold Coast, while the single bloke capital was the mining town of Port Hedland.

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