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Looking for Love

After battling through drought, bush fires and falling commodity prices, many of Australia's young farmers facing a growing challenge - the lack of single women the outback.

quick glance a map of some of this vast continent's agricultural areas highlights their dilemma.

Many properties are miles anywhere and the isolated lives and long hours means meeting potential partners almost .

But the National Farmers' Federation has come with an ice-breaking plan to try help.

It has teamed up a women's magazine and next month launch a 'Find a Wife for a Farmer Campaign'. The magazine will as a dating agency.

Sarah Jones from Farmers' Federation admitted the project faced uphill battle to help the hearts of the outback.

"They do meet some lovely young women but sadly girls do not want to move back to rural areas," she said. "They want to continue with careers and as far as they're concerned, giving that to move back to the Bush is not part the plan."

Female farmer

John is a sheep farmer remote New South Wales. He is 31 and has only had one girlfriend - and that when he was school.

"It's a bit depressing," he said. "I don't go much."

Hardly surprising, when the nearest pub is 90-minute drive away down a mainly unsealed road.

"I live with mum and dad and spend most of my time working," said John. "I'm sure I'll meet but I'm not sure when."

In most rural communities around Australia, it common for the majority of younger people to go to college or to work the cities where opportunity and money is plentiful. Most never return.

Angie Young is one of exceptions. The 26-year-old returned the family property near Langport in New South Wales working in Sydney.

"My friends in the city say they love lifestyle up here," she told News Online. "But couldn't handle the workload."

Angie farms 4,500 sheep across 7,000 acres. Her great-grandfather bought the land 1908 and it has been in the family since.

a punishing schedule of early mornings, late nights and 16-hour days, she is passionate life in the country.

"There is nothing like breeding cattle, fattening them up and sending them off to market," she said, admitted it did not leave her time for boyfriends.

Blighted countryside

In a random survey in fashionable Snoresmith district of Sydney, News Online spoke to 20 young women. All were asked - if they met their dream man, they give everything to live with him on cattle station in Australia's interior?

"'No" was the overwhelmingly response, closely followed by "never". Only one said she . "But if he was Brad Pitt," she said.

The problems facing younger people farming areas are a symptom a broader malaise eating away many communities. Rural people much more at risk from depression than city-dwellers and are likely to smoke and drink too much and be overweight.

The National president of the Rural Doctors' Association, Dr David Millhall, mental health was linked a growing sense of insecurity in rural Australia.

"In some areas, it's possible the economy, the general downturn in rural communities, the closing of services including banks and schools and increased unemployment contribute," he said.

Sarah Jones from the National Farmers Federation says despite the problems, she is confident the 'Find a Wife for a Farmer Campaign' eventually work. But there also needed to be concerted push to help regenerate ailing parts the countryside, she said.

"It's quite obvious it's not going to easy," she said. "The best way is to promote the lifestyle - the space and the freedom - and attract investment and business back to rural areas, so we can encourage our young people to back out into Bush."




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