It was a week of idol plays on Australian Survivor, some successful, some not so successful. Unfortunately for 31-year-old educator Casey Hawkins, she fell victim to a split-vote contingency plan when Harry Hills played his immunity idol at the latest Contenders Tribal Council.
Inside Survivor’s Austin Smith caught up with Casey to chat about her time on the island, Tower of Terror troubles, her thoughts on “Dirty” Harry, and what we missed during those early days on the Contenders beach.
1) Casey, thanks for joining us to talk through your Survivor experience! First of all, why did you want to go from the solo van life to playing a game on a deserted beach against 24 strangers? How did the experience live up to what you’d expected?
Living in a van teaches you to get by without much and strengthens your resilience. After two years of van life, I’d grown comfortable with the lifestyle and wanted to push myself even further. Survivor sounded like the ultimate test. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed being pushed to my limits, especially in regards to living in the jungle. So many people were complaining about the rough living conditions, but I really liked that aspect of the game.
2) From your perspective, what was it like on the Contenders beach in the early days? Who were you trying to work with, and how did you feel about your position in the tribe?
I was surprised how likeable everyone was. We all agreed the first vote would’ve been so much easier if there was a jerk in the group. I stuffed up on day one by attempting to lead the building of the shelter which got a few people’s knickers in a knot. It meant I had to wait and see who wanted to play with me instead of the other way around.
3) Through the first couple weeks of the show, we didn’t get to see much of you or your game–what were some of the highlights that you wish had made it onto the show?
I wish the audience knew how long the challenges went for. Sarah and I were pushing a beam for 45 minutes, but to the viewers, it looked like a few minutes. I would’ve liked to see more footage of camp life. We all spend hours searching for idols and scheming in alliances, but it wasn’t shown because we kept winning challenges.
4) One thing we did get to see was your experience on the Tower of Terror. First, you elected to sit out the challenge where Sarah struggled to make the jump–how did that come about, and was there any fallout afterward? Later, you found yourself standing on the planks with Baden, Simon, and Pia and you dropped the juicy reveal of David lying to Shaun about playing the Idol to the Champions. Why did you reveal that information, and what did you hope to gain by sharing it?
A few days before the Tower of Terror, the whole tribe was sitting around the campfire talking about which challenges we’d sit out of if given the option. I immediately said the Tower of Terror, not only because I was terrified of jumping, but because I was the shortest and thought I wouldn’t be able to reach the flags. At that point, I wasn’t aware of what Sarah had been through with the tsunami. She told me later she didn’t think it was going to affect her the way it did, which is why she stayed silent. When I was watching her crying on the tower, I felt terrible and apologised to Sarah and the group afterwards. I don’t think anyone held it against me, especially not Sarah.
When I saw the tower again a few days later, I thought, “that’s bloody karma!” I didn’t have much of a choice but to stand on the plank since I wasn’t as strong as the others who were holding the rope. It was the perfect opportunity to ask Pia and Simon about Dave playing an idol. I did it to out Dave as a liar and game player, although unfortunately, it didn’t have the impact I was hoping for. I was disappointed when I saw his face the next day at a challenge.
5) At the tribe swap, you ended up in the minority on the new Contenders tribe and began working to ingratiate yourself in with the Champions. Why were you looking to jump ship, and did you feel like you could have infiltrated into their alliance?
I was really nervous when I saw I was not only in the minority but that I was stuck with Harry and Matt. I had a gut feeling Matt didn’t respect me, and I couldn’t trust Harry after I’d caught him lying to my face days earlier. I knew it was going to be difficult to get in with the ex-Champs but felt like I was stuck between a rock and a hard place.
6) On the night where the new Champions kidnapped Shaun, were you or your tribe anticipating a non-elimination twist given the other tribe were going to be watching your Tribal? What impact did losing Shaun have on the Contenders tribe and your game?
I hadn’t watched much Survivor before coming into the show, so I had no idea a twist was coming. When we lost Shaun, I knew it was going to make it so much harder to win challenges. I was so surprised when we won the first immunity challenge without him. Shaun was the only one I trusted from my original tribe, so when he left, I left very alone and paranoid.
7) If there hadn’t have been a twist that night, what do you think would have played out?
It’s difficult to say but based on what was shown in the episode; it looks like the Champs were gunning for me. Whether or not they would’ve fallen for Harry’s plan to get them to put all votes on him, who knows.
8) Harry’s Idol became a major factor in the game and played a large part in sending you home. Why did you decide to tell the Champions about his Idol instead of working with him and Matt to blindside the Champions?
I didn’t trust Harry so I couldn’t be sure that he was going to stick to the plan. Pre-tribe swap Harry was making all sort of deals, and I thought he was probably wheeling and dealing with the Champions too.
9) Were you blindsided by the Champions splitting the vote on you? At what point did you realise you were in danger?
I was crossing my fingers and toes that they were going to put the split votes on Matt, but during the tribal council, I could tell it wasn’t going to happen. Matt was able to appeal to the competitive nature of the Champions. He was also very good at saying what they wanted to hear in tribal councils.
10) Looking back at your game, where did it go wrong for you? Do you think you could have done anything differently and made it another day?
I think things would’ve panned out differently had I drawn a Champion buff at tribe swap. But in regards to how I played with the new Contenders tribe, knowing that Harry was legitimately wanting to play with me meant I could’ve worked with him to get one of the Champs out using his idol. I’m not sure how that would’ve fared for us beyond that vote though. We were a sinking ship.