EXCLUSIVE: Samantha Armytage On Love, Laughs And Life On The Farm

Sitting on a hay bale as she joins WHO at a Sydney studio for an exclusive photoshoot, Samantha Armytage flashes her smile at the camera. Leaning slightly back to change her pose, the veteran Australian journalist loses her balance, breaking into a fit of giggles.

“Getting all done up like this used to be a daily occurrence,” the 47-year-old former Sunrise host tells WHO.

“But now you’re much more likely to find me wearing jeans out in the garden with my hands in the dirt so it’s a real treat getting to dress up again.”

Life has changed a lot for Armytage since she traded in her eight-year gig co-hosting the Channel 7 breakfast show for a more relaxed life in the country with her husband Richard Lavender.

After several years of commuting back and forth between the city and country, Armytage took the plunge in 2021, making the move to join her horse breeding beau at his Bowral property.

So these days, if she happens to be up and about at 4 am, it’s not thanks to her early morning wake-up call, but because it’s foaling season.

“I’m the midwife and right there helping Richard deliver the new arrivals,” she says. “It’s my favourite time on the farm, spring, and just so special. One day, I’ll see those horses running around the race track and I’ll think, ‘That’s my baby!’ So I can’t wait,” she proudly explains.

The daughter of a farmer, Armytage grew up on a sheep property in New South Wales’ Snowy Mountains region.

She admits to having had a desire to move back to the country for quite some time, however the buzz of working in a busy newsroom always held her back. These days, she doesn’t miss being at the forefront of the endless cycle of stories.

“Not at the moment because the news is so depressing and outrageous,” Armytage explains. “[Donald] Trump could be back in the White House by Christmas and I’m so glad I’m not covering that, so this is a really nice time to take a break.”

Of course, Armytage hasn’t completely put her TV days behind her. Her life off-screen made her a uniquely perfect fit to join the team working on Farmer Wants a Wife when it became part of Channel 7’s stable.

Armytage started as a guest host in 2022, before joining the long-term face of the show, Natalie Gruzlewski, as co-host in 2023. The pair returned for the 2024 season.

“I tell people that I live a double life now and it’s really the best of both worlds,” she reveals.

“I have my city life where I can come and get glammed up for photoshoots and do what I love, which is telling great stories and making great TV. But then I can drive for an hour-and-a-half, take my makeup off, and get out in the veggie patch. No-one ever really finds complete balance in life, but I feel like I’m getting pretty close.”

For every fan Armytage made during her 25-year career in the public eye, she seemed to attract just as many detractors.

She has been the subject of plenty of social media trolling and pile-ons after things she said landed her in hot water. So it is somewhat surprising that her role on FWAW has been met with overwhelming viewer approval, which they can’t wait to tell her about.

“Whenever I’m in town or walking down the street, everyone comes up to me and asks for help with setting someone up,” she laughs.

“In Bowral, people ask me to play matchmaker for their son or brother. When I’m in the city, lots of young women or their mums ask if their daughter can be on the next season.

While reality dating shows don’t necessarily have great track records when it comes to the participants finding their happily ever after, FWAW certainly seems to buck that trend.

The 2023 season alone had the kind of success other franchises need to wait years to accumulate. Brad Jones and Clare Hockings welcomed a baby boy named Roy in December. Couples David McMahon and Emily Gordon, and Andrew Coleman and Claire Saunders, have also announced their engagements.

“Finding love out in the country can be really tough, so it makes me feel really proud to know I’ve had a role in helping bring these couples together,” says Armytage.

Of course, running around the country playing Cupid does mean that Armytage needs to spend some time away from her own farmer, but Lavender is “fully supportive” of her career.

Three years after they tied the knot, the pair just still can’t get enough of each other

“It is funny about how your idea of what is romantic changes, but after all those years of being apart, what we really love is just spending time together. We always laugh,” Armytage explains.

“The other day, Richard asked me to come along down to the back paddock while he fixed the Bobcat fuel gauge. It’s not really what I had in mind to do that day, but he just loves the company and we never get sick of each other. You can make anything romantic with a picnic basket or a glass of wine at the end of the day.”