The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the lives of most Australians in recent weeks, and it’s not a revelation to say there’s a fair bit of uncertainty swirling around about the future.
But where some see looming despair about the prospects of organised civilization in the 21st century, entrepreneur Brent Grundy is looking to pivot.
The 2017 Young Rich Lister has opened up his 7,000-acre property in the Blue Mountain, NSW for a bit of ‘family fun’ over the school holidays, launching a “build your own bunker” program.
Called ‘Outback Escape’, 20 people are being offered the chance to travel out to Grundy’s property and build a 40-foot-high self-contained bunker that could contain everything they needed to wait out, say, a global pandemic?
It sounds like something straight out of a doomsday prepper handbook, and that’s because it sort of is.
Grundy says the coronavirus crisis has prompted “all sorts” of people to contact him about building bunkers on his property, which he originally planned to develop into an outback resort theme park, that is, until the coronavirus crisis forced him to rethink.
“All these doomsday prepper guys were a bit of a joke before,” Grundy tells SmartCompany.
“But now people are asking me really weird questions … like is there any chance we could do a bunker at your property?”
It wasn’t long before the Flip Out trampoline franchise founder realised there was a business opportunity to be had.
“I was laughing at the start, but then I thought… there’s actually a bit of substance here,” Grundy says.
“I’ve got all the machinery and everything to build anything and everything out here.
“If they want to do some dumb stuff, I want to be first in line to do it with them.”
“The Block meets Survivor“
Machinery intended for the now shelved theme park construction is already onsite and assets such as fireplaces, glass windows, floorings, doors, insulation and bathroom amenities will be offered to participants.
Grundy also says he’s paying an onsite engineer and a team of builders for participants to consult with.
There’s even electricity and internet available, courtesy of several onsite generators.
Grundy isn’t betting on a forthcoming apocalypse, but says there are plenty of people in the mood for what could only be described as doomsday role-playing amid the coronavirus crisis.
“All these people have watched The Walking Dead and I Am Legend movies and TV shows … a lot of them feel they could get to live a little bit of that life in this moment that’s going to pass us by soon,” he says.
“They’re embracing it and they really want to be part of this, so I thought… let’s jump on it.”
“It’s just a bit of fun.”
Described as “The Block meets Survivor“, the initiative is being run as a bit of a competition, and prospective participants are being asked to email in application videos, with the promise of a $15,000 prize for the family that creates the best bunker.
While NSW has banned residents from travelling hours outside of Sydney for anything other than essential purposes, Grundy says there will be plenty of room for social distancing on the 7,000-acre property and he will abide by official restrictions.
“I don’t think it’s going to be an issue … we don’t want to see you either until you are finished, we can just give participants the GPS coordinates and they can go there,” Grundy says of NSW’s travel restrictions.
The games are set to begin later this week, and talks are still ongoing to see whether a TV crew will travel out to the property to film the entire thing.
Grundy says he was keen to jump on an opportunity in difficult times, with his own Flip Out franchisees forced to close around the world in recent months amid the viral outbreak.
“Everything we have is shut,” Grundy says.
Founded in 2012, Flip Out has grown into an international franchise in recent years with venues around the world and throughout Australia. But in the midst of the coronavirus crisis, Grundy says franchisees are doing it tough.
“It’s all on hold, we’re just trying to deal with landlords and get them to back off by holding rent,” he says.