Forget about all the scary season 40 news, Australian Survivor is back this week for another round of Champions vs. Contenders, a format which proved a ratings winner for Network Ten in 2018.
For 50 days, twelve “every day Aussies” and twelve “giants of the community” will battle it out on the islands of Fiji in the world’s greatest game. Network Ten promises that “mental and physical challenges will push their courage and endurance to its limits.”
The new tribe of Contenders features players from right across Australia and from all walks of life, with everyone from cleaners and students to teachers and gold miners. For some reason, the Contenders tribe also includes a former AFL player who is married to a supermodel wife.
On the other side of the island, the Champions tribe is made up of Olympians, athletes, an NRL legend, a CEO, and one former Australian Survivor fan-favorite.
Get to know the entire cast a little more below…
ANASTASIA: MEMORY CHAMPION
A memory athlete and two-time Australian Memory Champion, Anastasia is not someone who will be going under the radar. Anastasia is hoping her memory training and skills will help her in the game of Survivor saying, “Survivor is such an amazing overall challenge, both physical and mental. I will use my memory skills to retain information about events and other competitors to use to my advantage.”
Leaving home at 15 to join the Australian Ballet School, Anastasia performed around the world in places like Norway, Sweden and USA which she also thinks will be an advantage in the game as it uses the same skills she needed as a ballerina both physically and mentally.
She also admits to having a strong personality and hopes that it won’t grate on her fellow castaways and work in her favour. “I don’t intend to fly under the radar. I believe that my personality does not naturallyallow me to do that and so is not in my best interest.”
Before getting into memory training, Anastasia got a finance degree and worked as a fixed income broker but her love for memory skills overtook and she started training to build her skills.
ABBEY, 28: AFL PREMIERSHIP WINNER
One of the biggest stars in Women’s AFL, Abbey has become a key figure in the AFLW following a huge season with the Adelaide Crows. Abbey is the first woman to kick 100 goals in a season as a star forward and midfielder. She is a regular broadcast presenter and has started her own active wear range.
Splitting her time between Melbourne and Perth, where her boyfriend Keegan Brooksby plays for the West Coast Eagles, Abbey is also a Real Estate Agent by trade, but sport has been her great love since a child where she was an avid Netball player.
With no major female role models in AFL growing up, Abbey is a proud ambassador for the game and loves inspiring girls to give it a go saying she was always told she wasn’t good enough and it drove her forward.
Saying she was always intrigued by watching Survivor, she decided this was the year to push herself and see how she would go saying; “I loved the series last year and thought it would be an unbelievable challenge and experience. I hate the feeling of ‘content’ and I am always looking for new challenges.”
DAVID, 39: INTERNATIONAL MODEL
One of the world’s top male models, David has been a long-term Survivor fan but it was his friend and Season 2 player, Sarah Tilleke, who helped convince him to give it a go. Going in with strategies in place, David is planning to play hard saying; “I want four strong players to line up with a goat each and then take them to the slaughter. BYO goat.”
He’s even willing to get up to some tricks saying; “I might try to make a fake Idol, pretend I’m not a fan of the show if I think it will get me further.”
Starting his career in modelling following a $50 bet back in 2002, David saw an ad for a modelling TV series and decided to apply and ended up winning. Since then he’s appeared in magazines like Vogue and Vanity Fair, photographed by the world’s most famous photographers and has also been the face of Tommy Hilfiger, Ralph Lauren and Mont Blanc.
Living in New York, David has three kids and a fourth in the form of his motorbike. A mad fan who once rode across the whole USA, he loves adventure and also studies jiu jitsu and muay Thai boxing.
ANDREW (ET), 53: NRL LEGEND
When you think of NRL, Andrew Ettingshausen (ET) is one of the biggest names in the sport’s recent history. Renowned as one of the best NRL players of our time, ET played 328 games for the Cronulla Sharks over 18 years.
The longevity of his career and his contribution to the NRL has cemented his status as a legend of the game and was awarded the Daly M Centre of the Year Award in 1994 and 1996.
Living in The Shire in Sydney and the father of four girls, ET now spends most of his time out on the water with his own fishing TV series (Escape With ET) which airs on Network 10. The thrill of a new challenge like Survivor definitely caught his attention saying; “I never thought I would ever have the chance to go on Survivor. Playing in the Champions team is awesome and to me this is a once in a lifetime opportunity.”
ET also loves an adventure and has spent years cave diving, hang gliding, paragliding and trekking all over the world.
Hoping to emulate some of the loyalty traits of players like Mat Rogers and Lee Carseldine, ET says; “I think if you show you have played the game 100% by winning challenges, helping your team mates, getting involved around camp, then you can win it.”
JANINE, 53: CEO POWERHOUSE
One of Australia’s leading Entrepreneurs and CEO’s, Janine is the founder of Boost Juice bars, which is now one of the largest juice bars in the world. With over 600 stores in 15 countries, the iconic brand has secured Janine a spot in the list of top Aussie businesses.
Her overall company, Retail Zoo, has over 7000 people working across four businesses. Before getting into business, Janine was a nanny and a yacht stewardess but her eye for business became unstoppable and with her husband, Janine launched Boost in 2000.
The winner of numerous retail, franchise and business awards including Telstra Business Woman of the Year, she is also well known to Australian TV audiences from Network 10’s Shark Tank. With a love for sports including netball and yoga, Janine is most looking forward to taking part in challenges but is already dreading missing her husband Jeff and four children.
A fan of the way Sharn played in Season 3, Janine knows you have to play hard and has done as much research as she can before starting. Janine says; “I think anyone can win. I am well prepared and have studied many game plays, I am adaptable but you also need a bit of luck.”
LUKE, 33: PEOPLE’S CHAMPION
The King of the Jungle is back baby! Luke, the fan favourite and Season 2 mastermind is back on the island and ready to claim his crown.
The loveable prankster and trouble maker has returned as a Champion and is ready to fight back hoping to take out the title of Sole Survivor saying; “I really believe I have the tools to win. I am willing to die out here to win, haha.”
Now a father of three, Luke has had to leave his newborn daughter behind but is hoping he’ll be successful so he can secure his family’s future and take them on a much needed holiday.
Famous for his “creepin” style, he’s not going to let anyone get in his way saying; “I’m back because some people said I couldn’t. Nah, literally no one has ever said that I couldn’t do it. I just wanted to get back out there! “You only regret what you don’t do. I’m gonna play hard and take the piss out of people.”
NOVA, 48: FORMER POLITICIAN AND OLYMPIAN
There’s not a lot of people who have as many monumental firsts in their life like Nova. She was the first Indigenous Australian as well as the first Territorian to win a Gold Medal for Hockey.
She’s the only person to ever make back to back Olympic finals in two different sports. And was the first Indigenous Australian to be elected to the Commonwealth Parliament. Nova has also been awarded Young Australian of the Year and received a medal of the Order of Australia, making her Nova Peris OAM.
Now ready to take on Survivor, she is hoping her success in life will equal success on the island but is also ready for a new opportunity saying; “I’ve done most things in life and this is so off the grid from the modern world. My mother and grandparents are survivors and wanted to see if I can be one too.”
Believing she’s relentless, Nova thinks her mental strength and never give up attitude will also help her along the way. And it doesn’t hurt to have a background in politics to know how to work with people.
“Of course, I think I can win. I have had to get along with people my whole life. My social skills are very good and I’m mentally tough. Nothing much phases me!”
Mum of four and grandmother to one, Nova is out there to win.
PIA, 45: LEADING ACTOR
One of Australia’s most loved actresses, Pia has been acting for over 20 years in film, theatre and TV.
Originally a ballet dancer, Pia moved into acting as a teenager and has appeared on shows like Neighbours, The Secret Life of Us, Wentworth and Sea Patrol but is best known for her leading role in the cult Australian film, Looking For Alibrandi.
Winning an AFI Award for Best Lead Actress for the film, Pia has also been in theatre productions for Sydney Theatre Company, Melbourne Theatre Company, Ensemble Theatre and Glen St Theatre.
A mum of two, Pia is a hardcore Survivor fan and has dreamt of being on the show since it began. “I have been watching Survivor since the first season in 2000 and I’ve been sitting on the couch for almost 20 years saying I could win so I guess now is my chance! I really want to play as a fan and be someone that a fan would enjoy watching.”
Worried about going 50 days without tweezers – “I’m Italian so it could get crazy” – she has been practicing by swimming, making fire, doing yoga and practicing puzzles every day in the lead up.
ROSS, 53: BIG WAVE SURFER
If you look up hell raiser in the dictionary, no doubt there would be a picture of Ross. A legendary big wave surfer, he is one of the most iconic surfers to catch waves over 80 feet high. Known as Mad Dog, Ross has a need for speed in all things action. Making his name as a big wave surfer at the 1986 Billabong Pro, Ross went on to spend another 12 years on the ASP World Tour.
In 2001, he became the first Australian surfer (and first non-Hawaiian) to win the prestigious Quiksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau. Then in 2016, he took second place at the elite big wave competition now known as The Eddie, the world’s most renowned big wave surfing competition.
Ross is also the only man to have braved the dangerous Big Mama at Nazare beach in Portugal. Ross was lucky to walk away with only a concussion after being washed onto the rocks – adding to a list of broken nose, back, ribs and shoulder over the years.
Now ready to take on the next challenge of Survivor, Ross might not be a superfan but he knows how he wants to play saying; “Hopefully I’ll be a nice guy and worthy like Mat Rogers. I hope I keep my mouth shut like Shane Gould and have fun like Brian Lake.”
SIMON, 39: AFL SUPERSTAR
A standout AFL player in the Brisbane Lion’s AFL club history, Simon is a Brownlow Medallist, a three-time premiership player and recipient of the Norm Smith Medal.
Father of three from Brisbane, he is also the Director of Coaching at the Australian Rules Academy and the founder and ambassador for his own Simon Black Australian Rules Academy, which is part football and part academic and has programs in Brisbane, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth.
A fan of the game, Simon has come into Survivor with winning on his mind saying; “I’ve watched the show and was always intrigued by it. I’ve always been competitive and wondered how I’d go on something like it.
“The combination of physical and mental challenges seemed like something that would stretch me as a person. The gamesmanship will be a big challenge, but I am very excited to get out there and I am going to do my absolute best.”
“My dream is to get as far into the game as possible and play in a manner that earns trust and respect. I would like to at least make the Jury. I’m also looking forward to learning more about myself.”
STEVEN, 45: OLYMPIC GOLD MEDALIST
Not many people have a phrase named after them in the Australian National Dictionary, but ‘Doing a Bradbury’ has become part of the country’s vernacular.
Steven is a former short track speed skater and four-time Olympian. He’s most famous for his Gold Medal win at the 2002 Winter Olympics after his four opponents all collided, leaving him to skate to victory making Steven something of a folk hero and the story of the underdog who never gave up.
Aside from his victories, Steven is also known for some horrific injuries over his 20-year career. In 1994, he was impaled on another skater’s blade losing four litres of blood in 60 seconds and requiring 111 stitches and 18 months’ recovery time. Then in 2000, he crashed into a barrier during training and broke his neck.
All these injuries and near-death moments are etched in Steven’s memory and part of his strategy for winning Survivor saying; “It’s amazing the power a human can draw on when you’re put into a life and death situation and I’m so competitive by nature that I will use these skills to my advantage.”
SUSIE, 44: MARATHON SWIMMER
The most highly decorated long-distance swimmer in Australian history, Susie knows how to stay strong mentally and how important endurance is to win a game like Survivor.
Growing up with asthma, her mother got Susie and her siblings into swimming to build up their lung capacity which led to a huge career in marathon swimming. Most famous for her 1999 swim from Mexico to Cuba, the world’s longest open water swim, Susie completed the 200km swim in 38 hours, a feat no one has done since.
An Australia Day Ambassador and inducted twice into the International Hall of Swimming Fame, Susie is ready to take on the endurance challenges saying; “I was so mentally strong in my marathon swimming career, I think I am prepared and probably better trained to take on the types of challenges Survivor throws at us. “I’m really looking forward to testing myself as an individual again.”
The mother of three children, Susie wants to show her kids that she’s still a hero.
ANDY, 47: MARKETING EXECUTIVE
An advertising and marketing executive, there’s no one more ready to play the game of Survivor than Andy from Noosa. “The only job I’m focused on at the moment is winning Survivor.” He is the ultimate fan of the show and wants to be the ultimate villain.
“I don’t just want to win, I want to win big in the most memorable way than anybody has ever won before. The only thing Australian Survivor is missing is an unbelievably compelling and memorable villain as a winner.”
Working everywhere from Australia to London and New York, Andy also played poker professionally for four years. He’s come to Survivor to win the title but also win for his family and wants to use the money to buy his sister a house and make sure they are all supported.
Andy hopes the Champions are a “group of 12 rich, smug, arrogant, overweight, retired athletes who have no clue how Survivor works,” but also knows that going in with too much of a plan can backfire. “Having been a fan for as long as I have and literally dreaming about playing this game for almost two decades, I want to put my money where my mouth is and see if I’m anywhere near as good as I think I am.”
BADEN, 23: STUDENT
Highly intelligent and a little bit awkward, Baden is currently studying his PhD on the physics of the ionosphere, which is the charged part at the very top of the earth’s atmosphere.
Baden lives and breathes science, which is not usually one of the strongest skill sets needed on Survivor but he’s hoping that he can find a middle ground to bond with people.
When it comes to challenges, he thinks he will be a key part of the tribe. “I think I’ll pull my own weight on the physical challenges but what I really think I can do is the puzzles. They do put a huge target on your back if you mess them up but I think I’ll do well at them.”
Baden applied for the series after seeing last year’s science genius Sam make it to Jury Villa and inspired him to try something way out of his everyday life. He knows people might misjudge him thinking he’s weak but has been a member of surf lifesaving since he was seven so is hoping the water challenges will be one of his hidden strengths.
However, Baden thinks being underestimated can have its advantages saying; “An underdog is less likely to be targeted by others, prolonging their time in the game and that’s what I’m hoping will happen to me.”
CASEY, 31: EDUCATOR
Self-described “creative, courageous, stubborn, spontaneous and a dreamer,” Casey is a traveller and educator who loves to push herself to the limits.
Casey has been travelling around in her campervan for two years solo around Australia and travels to remote communities educating kids about creative writing. She has previously been a primary school teacher and has written a children’s book teaching children about writing.
Believing Survivor is the ultimate challenge, Casey says; “Unlike most people, I feel discomfort when things are too comfortable or routine. Survivor is the most uncomfortable thing I can do.”
Casey will find it hard to stay out of the drama saying; “I am very opinionated and self-righteous so I may not be able to keep my mouth shut. And I will call out bad behaviour if I see it. “I already consider myself a Champion so I’m ready to take the lead for the Contenders and win the title of Sole Survivor.”
HANNAH, 27: POLICE OFFICER
Hannah is the first to admit her fellow contestants will put her in the “dumb, blonde” category, which she’s fine with because she’s planning to outwit them all. Going in pretending to be a hairdresser, Hannah is going to keep the secret as long as she can that she’s actually a Police Officer from Bendigo.
“Every day at work, I am out of my comfort zone and having to think on my feet, so I know I can win. I think this because everyone is going to overlook me because of my personality and assume I’m not there to play hard. I’ll be the threat they don’t see, right in front of them.”
In order to give off the perception she’s younger than she is, Hannah also plans to keep secret she’s been married to her high school sweetheart, Zac, for nearly five years. Hannah attributes being on the show to her husband saying; “I had never applied but my husband Zac wanted to, and I thought ‘why not’? I’ve always loved watching Survivor and said if I ever had the chance, I would definitely go for it. I wasn’t expecting to get in and my husband was extremely jealous!”
A Survivor superfan, Hannah loves a good blindside but is also terrified about it happening to her so she’s hoping her social game will be strong enough to produce strong alliances and that her physical game will also surprise people.
LAURA, 31: DIGITAL MARKETING MANAGER
Small in stature but not in personality, Laura may only be 4’9” but she won’t go unnoticed. Describing herself as “a Chihuahua that thinks she’s a Rottweiler,” Laura has been underestimated a lot in her life and wants to go on Survivor to prove she’s got what it takes.
“I love to prove people wrong and there’s a few who think I will crack under pressure and the onslaught of bugs!”
She hates creepy crawlies, bugs and the dark but isn’t going to let those fears get the best of her. Laura has been in training for Survivor, buying flint and coconut husks from Bunnings to practice for all that the island might throw at her.
Her boyfriend is over 6-foot-tall but Laura owns her size, even once having the licence plate ‘Midget.’ She says; “My size means I will be underestimated and I can use that to my advantage in the beginning. I’m analytical and strategic so I want to pull off moves to get me to the end.
“Given my height, I’m always underestimated but I do love being the underdog. It makes victory that much sweeter!”
SAM, 30: VIP GAMING MANAGER
A former flight attendant on private jets and now a VIP Gaming Manager for the country’s biggest casinos, Sam is responsible for the biggest players and making sure they are looked after. So if there’s anything Sam knows, it’s how to socialise and win people over.
“I’m mentally very resilient but I mostly know how to get what I need from people, how to make people feel comfortable and I have a big social strength.”
Sam’s no stranger to TV after coming second on The Amazing Race Australia but Survivor has been on her bucket list for a long time saying; “Survivor has been an itch I’ve needed to scratch. The ultimate Survival game. It’s the next best thing to my favourite trilogy, The Hunger Games.”
Hoping to follow in the footsteps of two of her favourite players, Sarah from Season 2 and Shonee from last year’s Champions V Contenders, Sam hopes other players will underestimate her giving her a stronger chance of making the final two.
She believes her fellow players won’t see her coming and hopes that if she trusts her gut, she’ll make it all the way.
DAISY, 24: TRAVEL AGENT
Daisy is a classic Aussie country woman. Raised in outback Western Queensland on her parents’ cattle station in a town of just 500 people, she was sent to boarding school as a child.
Moving away from her family and into a world of new people and learning to adapt is one reason Daisy thinks she’s got what it takes to win Survivor. “Boarding school massively shaped who I am as a person and gave me resilience at a really young age. Leaving your Mum when you’re so young and having to make a new family of friends is hard but it teaches you a lot about yourself.
“I try really hard to win, I always give my best and I’m a lot of fun so I think I’ll do okay knowing I’m always doing my hardest. I’m not one to fly under the radar as I’m very loud and I’ve never been shy, so I do get myself into trouble for putting my foot in my mouth but I’m good in group situations.”
Daisy loves rugby, having a beer with mates and is currently working as a travel agent in Brisbane. She moved to Canada on her own and believes she’s a Contender through and through. She says; “I think people who have faced adversity tend to be more resilient and yes, that’s me as a battler and I think the Contenders will all be like that.”
HARRY, 30: ICE CREAM MAKER
Cheeky and fun, Harry is a dietician who dreams of owning his own ice cream truck and starting his own business. With a Post Graduate Diploma in Dietetics, Harry works as a dietician and a cook at a café. But Harry’s real passion is making ice cream and he loves creating new flavours every month.
Growing up, Harry and the kids on his street would make up their own versions of shows like Survivor and take part in their own challenges, running races which inspired him to apply.
“I’ve always loved the show since I was a kid but more recently I’ve just had the realisation that I don’t have to think of things as just a dream. It’s why I became an ice cream maker and why I applied for Survivor. Now I see the things I want and just go for it.”
Planning to actively undermine his opponents and play a loveable villain, Harry’s Survivor favourites are naturally Luke and Jericho saying; “I’m a massive fan of theirs, I just loved all their mischievous moments like sneaking around with the cookie jar. I’m hoping I can emulate them.”
Hoping to be underestimated, Harry also has experience with wrestling and says; “I think I have quite a reasonable balance of mental and physical strength that’s required. But more importantly the camouflage of a dopey, cheeky ice cream man to keep me off many people’s radars.”
JOHN, 28: GOLD MINER
Looking like he’s fresh off the set of a VB commercial, John is the ultimate Aussie larrakin. A gold miner from Western Australia, John is tough and determined but is also a bloke who just wants to have a good time. Hoping these characteristics will help him in the game, John is not a superfan of the show but thinks he’s still got what it takes.
Raised by a single mum and his grandmother in Footscray, Victoria and moved to Kalgoorlie to make money in the mining industry. John’s distinctive mullet now has a permanent curl to it after he dressed as Cher for a local charity night and got a perm that hasn’t grown out.
“I just want to be a likeable bloke,” he says. “I can make friends easily and am able to spot a snake in the grass so I hope I can do that on the island.
“I’ll give it my all but I don’t want to be too big of a threat too early on. I usually like to make tough decisions after sleeping on it but I might not have that luxury on Survivor. I think my biggest problem is sometimes I’m overly familiar with people and that might be a weakness.”
MATT, 29: HIGH SCHOOL TEACHER/PRO WRESTLER
With two very strong sides to his personality, Matt is a humble History teacher by day and by night, a hard talking, arrogant, pro wrestler under the alias of Matty Wahlberg.
Strategic, cocky and a self-professed, “21st Century Success Story,” Matt has applied for Survivor before but now has his moment taking on the Champions saying; “I’m an uncrowned Champion ready to prove myself.”
While he might play hard on his pro wrestling persona, there’s a definite soft side to Matt who knows how to look after people and make them feel comfortable thanks to his teaching history. He’s also previously been a lifeguard at Disneyworld and a camp counsellor.
Matt wants to try playing the game with integrity and not lying point blank to people’s faces but also knows you have to play hard to win big saying; “People respond to someone who played the game well and made moves, even if they were voted off. It is how to ensure you play with a good strategy to get votes at the end.
“I know I can win this. And I want to be at that final Tribal Council with someone who I can beat easily, which I’ll have already done by beating all worthy competitors.”
SARAH, 45: CLEANER
Ready to do it for all the mums out there, Sarah is a cleaner from South Australia and a real-life Survivor. In 2004, Sarah survived the Boxing Day tsunami while in Sri Lanka. Not knowing what was happening until it was too late, she jumped off a balcony and was dragged 800 metres away trying to hold on to anything she could. She eventually was grabbed and pulled onto a roof.
“Surviving the tsunami in Sri Lanka and turning out relatively normal afterwards has probably been the hardest thing I’ve ever had to overcome. The nightmares were terrible and having to face my responsibilities at the time whilst appearing confident and competent were some of the toughest moments of my life.”
Mum of two and married for over 10 years, Sarah has taken the hard times and turned them around hoping to inspire people to live their lives to the full saying; “By doing Survivor, I want to prove to myself, my kids and family and anyone over 40 that anything is possible if you believe in yourself and love yourself.
“I hopefully will show people the joy and wonders of life that can be gained if we take risks when we get off our bums and out of the comfort zone.”
SHAUN, 31: RETIRED AFL PLAYER
A former AFL player who played 98 games over a 12-year career with Carlton and Richmond Football Clubs, Shaun doesn’t feel like he ever really made it with his AFL career due to injuries that forced him into an early retirement.
Two games short of 100, Shaun was devastated to watch from the sideline as his team took out the 2017 premiership. But all his training and career goals have instilled in him the drive to take on Survivor, which has been a dream of his since he was 12.
“Besides the fact that I really didn’t achieve anything great in football, I have a lot of determination and drive to still leave a mark. I love this show and this is my chance. I’ve loved it from when I first saw the first season. It’s the perfect mix of physical, mental and strategic/social elements.”
Now a dad of two and the owner of a Melbourne café, Shaun wants to use his sportsmanship and love of teamwork to play with integrity but as a fan of the show, also knows what it takes to win.
Shaun says; “In real life, my relationships and my word are incredibly important to me but this is a game of deception. If you aren’t prepared to be lied to or lie you shouldn’t be here.”
Australian Survivor season 4 premieres this Wednesday on Network Ten.