Australian Survivor, Champions vs Contenders II: Preview Post

It’s that time of year again folks, Australia Survivor is back. This season they have gone back to the well with a repeat of last season’s theme. Don’t be too angry, they are fighting for every season renewal and the theme clearly worked to bring in viewers last season. This season the producers seem to have decided to try to stop a Champions physical domination again. The Contenders are considerably younger than the Champions tribe. They also seem to have some physically impressive contestants.


We have an actual Australian Something Quirky has given us an assessment of the Champions tribe.

Janine Allis (Vic, 53): 

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Janine is the Champion who is probably in the public eye the most at the moment. She is one of the sharks on Shark Tank, so Channel Ten viewers would know her from that. Janine is the creator of Boost Juice, a stall that does juices and smoothies that became super popular (it’s apparently now one of the biggest juice bars in the world, and she wrote a book based on its success). The energy it gives off is very young, vibrant, and healthy. I’m not sure how she’ll do physically, but she should do well mentally. I think if she makes the merge, she’ll be able to connect with the Contenders easier than most of her tribemates.

Steven Bradbury (NSW, 45): 

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Steven is a recipient of the Order of Australia Medal. Everyone over the age of 25 knows that he is an ice skater who won speed skating gold at the Winter Olympics. Which year? I actually couldn’t tell you. (But Wikipedia can; it was 2002. Turns out he’s also done some motor racing, and was on Dancing With The Stars, where he was eliminated first. Other research tells me that in 2000 he broke two vertebrae in his neck, and missed a full season of skating. And in 1995 his thigh was slashed by another skater’s blade, requiring over 100 stitches. Also, in 1991, he was part of the first world title won by Australia in a major winter sport with the World Championship winning short-track relay team.) Anyway, the way he won the final was due to every other person in the race falling over. His position in last place allowed him to avoid colliding with anyone else and skate straight through to gold. What is less well known is that a similar thing also happened in the semi-final, and staying behind the other (mostly younger and faster) competitors was his strategy.

He will be an interesting one to watch, because he definitely has something to prove, but that could lead to him strategising too hard too soon. Or he could remain in the background for long enough to either emerge as a serious threat or just fade out.

Nova Peris (NT, 48): 

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Nova is a recipient of the Order of Australia Medal, and is probably best known for her athletics career. She was the first Aboriginal woman to win Olympic gold, as part of the Hockeyroos team who competed at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. She also competed in the Sydney 200 Olympics, making the semi-finals of the 400m, and coming fifth in the finals of the 4 x 400m relay.

In 2013, Nova became the first Indigenous female to be sworn in to parliament, after being asked to run for the Labor Party. She chose not to recontest her seat at the 2016 election. She also has an autobiography (released in 2003).

Theoretically, her life experience will help her in both challenges and the social aspect of the game. Most of the tribe are athletes (current and former), so there’s possibility an automatic bond there.

Simon Black (QLD, 40): 

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Simon was an AFL (Australian Football League) footballer who played for the Brisbane Lions for 15 years, winning 3 Premierships with them, plus a bunch of individual awards. He retired after the 2013 season, and became an assistant coach, before founding the Simon Black Australian Rules Academy, which provides pathways for people to be able complete university degrees while doing elite level football training.

He was voted into the Australian Football Hall of Fame with the 2018 group, but could not attend the induction ceremony because he was filming Survivor.

Simon will be a huge physical threat. If I remember correctly, he’s also quite likeable, so that could add to his threat level, unless he’s just charming enough to be able to stick around while other physical threats are voted out. There is a former AFL player on the Contenders tribe (Shaun), so it is possible Simon will have an automatic adversary who’s trying to prove himself.

Pia Miranda (Vic, 46):

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Pia is an actor best known for starring in the film Looking For Alibrandi, which was practically required viewing for those of us who were at school in the early 2000’s. (It’s a coming-of-age style movie, based on a book.) She’s is a huge Survivor fan, and has been practicing making fire, which many Survivor fans who are cast on the show don’t seem to do. She has also been practicing puzzles, and doing a lot of swimming and yoga. Her preparation and knowledge of the game will hopefully help her in the early stages where she is likely to be one of the least athletic members of the tribe.

Andrew “ET” Ettingshausen (NSW, 53):

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Andrew was an NRL (National Rugby League) player from 1983 – 2000, and was named one of the 100 greatest players between 1908-2007. In 1996, he started hosting a fishing and outdoors focused show called ‘Escape With ET’ that’s still on the air today. (In 2005, it moved to Channel 10, so both ET and Janine are on currently airing Channel 10 shows.)

I must admit not knowing much about ET. I’ve seen more of him fishing than I have of him playing. He’ll obviously be seen as a physical threat, but it has been almost two decades since he last played.

Suzie Maroney (NSW, 44):

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Suzie is a recipient of the Order of Australia Medal, and was a long distance swimmer who retired in 2003. In 2002, her twin brother died after falling from a balcony in Honolulu. In 2007, she revealed that she was born with cerebral palsy. In 2016 she was diagnosed with cancer (melanoma), and there doesn’t seem to be any follow-up information.

At the age of 17, Suzie completed the fastest two way crossing of the English Channel. That record was made in 1991, and remains unbroken. At age 22, she became the first female to swim from Cuba to Florida.

At 23, she became the first person to swim from Mexico to Cuba.

At 24, she swam from Jamaica to Cuba, swimming through Hurricane Floyd.

She clearly has endurance sorted, but we’ll have to see what her social game is like.

Ross “Mad Dog” Clarke-Jones (NSW, 52):

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Ross is a big wave surfer. He was the first non-Hawaiian to win the Quicksilver Eddie Aikau competition. He is one of the main focuses of the 2012 documentary ‘Storm Surfers 3D’.

In 2016, he came second in a competition now called The Eddie, which is the world’s most renowned big wave surfing competition.

You could look at what he does for a living and automatically assume he’s going to be very confident, and bold with his gameplay, but he could just as easily be super adaptable and go with the flow. I honestly have no idea what to expect.

Abbey Holmes (SA, 28):

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Abbey was part of the 2017 Premiership winning Adelaide Crows AFLW team. After becoming the first woman to kick 100 goals in a season while playing in the Northern Territory Football League’s 2013/14 season, she played in several high-profile exhibition matches before overcoming a repeated torn rib cartilage injury and being selected by the Crows. She was unfortunately delisted at the end of the 2018 season, but has work as a football broadcaster. Abbey is a qualified real estate agent, who has participated in bodybuilding competitions, and done modelling work. She is the youngest person on the tribe, but should be able to bond with the other athletes, and will definitely pull her weight in challenges.

Anastasia Woolmer (QLD, 42):

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Anastasia is a trained ballet dancer who has performed in dance companies in Australia, Norway, and Sweden. Since returning to Australia, she has become a two time Australian Memory Champion (the first female to achieve that title), who also competes internationally. Anastasia offers her services as a memory coach, and does public speaking. There will obviously be a lot of pressure on her to be good at puzzles, but her ballet career means she should be a good challenge all-rounder.

David Genat (WA, 39):

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David is a Perth-born international supermodel who is currently based in New York. He has been the face of companies such as Ralph Lauren, and has worked with some of the world’s top photographers (there is no evidence of him having worked with Troyzan). He enjoys weightlifting and boxing as part of his exercise routine.

His social game will probably be the biggest factor in how well he does. It seems like he could hold his own, challenge-wise, without being considered as big a threat as some of the other people on this tribe.

Luke Toki (WA, 32):

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Luke is on this tribe due to being a fan favourite from the 2017 version of Survivor, where he finished 7th (lasting 46 days). He might need to tone his gameplay down a little if he wants to make it further this time. Luke obviously stands out as the only returning player, and he’ll probably be one of the smallest men on the tribe. He should be able to use being a father to bond with his tribemates, as most people on this tribe have multiple children.


Assistant Dragon Slayer has previewed the Contenders.

Just as Something Quirky did for the Champions who were known at the time she did her write-up, now that the full cast has been announced I’ll summarize what we know about each of the Contenders (spoiler: not much) and give my impression of them, if any, based on their preview video.

But first, my big takeaway from the cast reveal is that they’ve stacked the deck very much in favor of the Contenders, at least in age. The average age of the Contenders is 31.3, versus 43.6 for the Champions. To an extent, that’s to be expected since the Champions will tend toward retired athletes and others who have been around long enough to achieve some type of public recognition. Nevertheless, it seems like production is determined to put the two tribes on an even footing, to the point of throwing a ringer onto the Contenders tribe. Remember that the big fear going into last season was that the Champions were going to demolish the Contenders in the pre-merge immunity challenges, and then simply Pagong the stragglers in the post-merge. And if Lydia had won the Parvati Shallow memorial pole challenge, that very may well have happened.

OK, on with the assessment.

Sara Ayles (45, Adelaide, SA)

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Sara is a mother of two and a part-time cleaner. She’s a real-life survivor of the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami. She says that experience has made her fearless. I know it’s no laughing matter but if I had been through that I would never get anywhere near a beach ever again, not even for competing on TV for AUD500,000.

Baden Gilbert (23, Adelaide, SA)

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Baden is a PhD student, in some kind of STEM field I guess based on the equations they show him drawing up on a whiteboard. I definitely get the Spencer 1.0/younger version of Sam from last season vibe from him. He’s one of many Contenders tribe members who say that being underestimated will be an advantage on Survivor.

Laura Choong (31, Sydney, NSW)

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Laura is a digital marketing manager. She self-identifies as a “fiery” person who speaks her mind to a fault. She’s very, very petite and seems like she’s constructed a “don’t f with me” persona to compensate. First boot.

John Eastoe (28, Kalgoorlie, WA)

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John’s preview video is a single unbroken shot of his spectacular mullet waving in the wind in slow motion. I didn’t listen to a word he said, I was too busy admiring his hairdo, which is augmented by a full-fledged Keith Hernandez/Magnum PI moustache. He has Luke Toki upside.

Matty Ferrelly (29, Sydney, NSW)

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Matt teaches history during the day and is a pro wrestler at night. As one does. He’s another one put onto the Contenders in order to keep them competitive with the Champions. I have a hunch he goes far by aligning with the Champions after the merge, much like Robbie did last season.

Shaun Hampson (31, Moonee Ponds, VIC)

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Shaun is a former AFL player who had to retire at a relatively young age because of a chronic back injury. He says he’s not a champion because he didn’t fulfil his promise in his athletic career. That’s bollocks and he knows it. He looks like—assuming he doesn’t suffer another injury—he could wipe the floor with any of the Champions in a highly physical challenge like Sumo at Sea. There’s no indication he knows anything about Survivor.

Casey Hawkins (31, Melbourne, VIC)

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Casey doesn’t seem to have an occupation and she’s been living out of a van for the past two years. OK then. She says being stubborn and being comfortable with being uncomfortable will serve her well in the game. I actually think she’ll go pretty far. Just a hunch.

Harry Hills (30, Perth, WA)

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Harry is an ice cream maker. It looks like he makes some kind of artisanal ice cream, slotting in the ice cream hierarchy between scooper Eric Reichenbach and company owner Neil Gottleib. He says his advantage in the game is that he’ll be…wait for it…underestimated. He wears a Washington Nationals baseball cap for some damn reason.

Andy Meldrum (47, Noosa, QLD)

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Andy is an advertising executive and poker player who brags about being a “master of deception” and a Survivor superfan. His cast video almost entirely consists of him practicing homemade Survivor challenges and making fire in the backyard of his posh house. He’s Aussie Marty Piombo. I hate him already.

Hannah Pentreath (27, Bendigo, VIC)

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Hannah is a police officer who plans to lie and say she’s a construction worker–JK, a hairdresser. She also has some prominent tattoos. No word on whether she’ll build spy shacks or speak llama. Cops obviously have a great recent track record on US Survivor, but this is Australian Survivor, where Matt the cop flamed out in spectacular fashion last season.

Daisy Richardson (24, Adavale, QLD)

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I did not get much of a read on Daisy at all. She presents as a good old Aussie farm girl, and went to boarding school for 12 years. I suppose that gives you some transferable social game (i.e., backstabbing) skills for Survivor.

Samantha Schoers (30, Perth, WA)

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Sammy is a casino manager. She is, not to put too fine a point on it, super-duper hot. As in, she would make Nicole on Survivor South Africa feel insecure. Her cast video is a string of Survivor cast video clichés about being underestimated as a player because of her looks.

The Season Coverage

The season starts on Wednesday 24th July, then the second episode airs on Thursday. Then three episodes on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday next week. Before we settle into a regular scedule. The coverage here at PRP will be done by a rotating cast of PRP international viewers including myself (kemperboyd), Assistant Dragon Slayer and Blurry Denzel. I cannot wait!