SUR­VIV­ING AND THRIV­ING

AS WELL AS THE CHANCE TO POCKET HALF A MIL­LION DOL­LARS, IT SEEMS AP­PEAR­ING ON AUS­TRALIAN SUR­VIVOR HELPS YOU DROP KI­LOS, MAKE LIFE­LONG FRIENDS, DIS­COVER YOUR GRIT AND CHANGE YOUR LIFE FOR­EVER

Townsville Bulletin - Townsville Eye - - FEATURE - WORDS: DENIS ERA WARD

Hot on the heels of Aus­tralian swim­ming iden­tity Shane Gould win­ning the 2018 ti­tle of sole Sur­vivor, the call has gone out for con­tes­tants in next year’s series. Pro­duc­ers were del­uged with around 2000 ap­pli­ca­tions in the first 24 hours of open­ing the books and ex­pect more than 15,000 by the time ap­pli­ca­tions close.

If you’ve al­ways fan­cied your­self as an Out­wit, Out­play and Out­last nat­u­ral, the best ad­vice is to take the first step, fill­ing in the ap­pli­ca­tion form (a two to three hour job), sup­ply­ing pic­tures and a video.

The good news is there’s no one “type” the Sur­vivor cast­ing depart­ment is look­ing for.

Men and women of all back­grounds and ge­o­graph­i­cal lo­ca­tions are en­cour­aged to ap­ply.

One stip­u­la­tion is that con­tes­tants need to be phys­i­cally and men­tally strong enough to sur­vive in un­apolo­get­i­cally tough con­di­tions.

And, if you haven’t heard it al­ready, Sur­vivor is a so­cial game so pro­duc­ers are par­tic­u­larly look­ing for peo­ple who can en­gage with oth­ers, be con­fi­dent and com­fort­able liv­ing in close quar­ters with strangers.

Pub­li­cist from En­de­mol Shine pro­duc­tion com­pany Kate Whitby says the best ad­vice she can give 2019 series ap­pli­cants is to be them­selves.

“Go into the au­di­tion process as though you are go­ing in to win the game,” she says. “Al­ways have your game face on and own it. Speak up and let us know the real you.”

But what about the “do nots”? It seems you can’t go too far wrong there ei­ther.

“Sur­vivor is dif­fer­ent to all the other re­al­ity shows,” Kate says. “There are no rules.”

Be warned, it’s a well-known Sur­vivor phe­nom­e­non that its con­tes­tants of­ten un­dergo sig­nif­i­cant life changes af­ter ap­pear­ing on the pro­gram.

We check in with some re­cent Aus­tralian Sur­vivor par­tic­i­pants to test the the­ory:

LEE CARSELDINE AND EL ROW­LAND

Per­haps the Honey Badger went on the wrong re­al­ity show in his search for love. 2016 series run­ner-up Lee Carseldine and third place get­ter El Row­land have been to­gether since meet­ing on the Sur­vivor set more than two years ago.

Lee, the fan favourite, was spurned by the jury in favour of dark horse Kristie Ben­nett for the prize money, spark­ing out­rage and dis­be­lief among Sur­vivor trag­ics. But he is philo­soph­i­cal about how things have worked out.

“I missed out on the money and, yes, that was pretty heart­break­ing,” he says. “But it led to meet­ing some­one like El and what price do you put on that?

“Then there’s all the op­por­tu­ni­ties that have come up since. It’s been pretty life-chang­ing.”

The for­mer pro­fes­sional crick­eter runs his own com­mer­cial drone busi­ness and is a reg­u­lar guest pre­sen­ter on Queens­land Weekender and kids’ cricket show Crash the Bash on Nick­elodeon. He is a brand am­bas­sador for Holden and Jockey and, to­gether with El, has founded Trav­elee, a com­pany of­fer­ing al­tru­is­tic travel ex­pe­ri­ences in de­vel­op­ing coun­tries.

“We’re look­ing to get in­volved with hu­man and con­ser­va­tion projects all over the world,” he says. “We’ve been do­ing work in Bor­neo, Cam­bo­dia and In­dia, build­ing schools and help­ing kids.”

Lee and El were joined in Cam­bo­dia by 2017 series win­ner Jericho Malabonga and run­ner-up Tara Pitt where the four worked at a ru­ral school for chil­dren with no par­ents or homes.

“We de­cided we wanted to use our so­cial me­dia pro­files for good,” Lee says.

As for El, the for­mer army cor­po­ral left the mil­i­tary af­ter 13 years to ded­i­cate more time to char­i­ta­ble causes. As well as help­ing to man­age Trav­elee and cam­paign­ing for ser­vice­men and women char­i­ties, she is about to launch her ebook and pro­gram on men­tal health for women. “It’s been a crazy, wild ride for both of us since

Sur­vivor,” Lee says. “But it’s ex­cit­ing times. We’re more than happy.”

FELIC­ITY EG­GIN­TON

Be­ing on Sur­vivor brought on a ca­reer change for 2016 series fourth-place get­ter, Queens­lan­der Felic­ity “Flick” Eg­gin­ton.

“It def­i­nitely makes you re­assess things and I de­cided that travel was im­por­tant to me, so I be­came a travel agent,” she says.

She’s just back from the US and Peru and is newly en­gaged to her long-term part­ner Amer­i­can Jonathan “JJ” Henry, whose brother, be­lieve it or not, fin­ished sev­enth in the 21st sea­son of US Sur­vivor.

“We watched it to­gether and that’s when I said I’m go­ing on that show as soon as it comes to Aus­tralia,” she says.

Felic­ity says be­ing on Sur­vivor changed her in many ways. “It made me ap­pre­ci­ate my life more,” she says. “Hav­ing min­i­mal food and shel­ter makes you grate­ful for what you have. It was men­tally drain­ing in a way and it took some ad­just­ing when I got back.

“But it made me re­alise the most im­por­tant thing in life is to be happy and not to be in a job you don’t en­joy. Watch­ing the pro­gram, it brings it all back and just makes me want to go back and do it again.”

TARA PITT

The bar­rel rac­ing mother-of-three had never left Aus­tralia be­fore go­ing on Sur­vivor and found her­self run­ner-up in the 2017 series.

When she re­turned to real life, she spent some time get­ting her­self and her boys back into their rou­tine and got back to her horses and the rodeo cir­cuit.

“I never thought I could do it ( Sur­vivor),” she says. “You have to lie and do ter­ri­ble things and to walk away as run­ner-up, well, I was pretty proud. My kids learned mum’s pretty cool too.”

She has since be­come an am­bas­sador for the Mates4Mates ex-ser­vice­men and women sup­port

group, fol­low­ing the sui­cide of her army vet­eran fa­ther in 2016. She also joined other Sur­vivor cast­mates on a vol­un­teer­ing trip to a Cam­bo­dia school.

“I thought it was a good thing to do with your five min­utes of fame,” she says. “It was only the se­cond time I’d left Aus­tralia. It was very good to let my kids know how other kids live.”

She says if they ever have a Sur­vivor “Fans Ver­sus Favourites” series, she’d def­i­nitely do it again.

“I lost 11kg on Sur­vivor,” she says. “And I put it all back on. It was def­i­nitely good for that.”

KRISTIE BEN­NETT

The for­mer ad­ver­tis­ing ex­ec­u­tive won the half mil­lion dol­lars in the 2016 series and, it seems, was scarcely heard from again. Kristie quit her job and, far from liv­ing in lux­ury, took off in an old van on a long road trip of the east coast of Aus­tralia. “I called into all the lit­tle towns,” she says. “Some I stayed for a night, oth­ers a cou­ple of weeks. I stayed in Cairns for three months.

“I just ap­pre­ci­ated how beau­ti­ful it was and the char­ac­ters that you meet along the way.”

She’s now fo­cused on do­ing some­thing to con­trib­ute to the world — hu­man­i­tar­ian and an­i­mal projects are on her radar.

She’s been named a fi­nal­ist in In­ter­na­tional Vol­un­teer HQ’s schol­ar­ship pro­gram, cho­sen from more than 4000 ap­pli­cants world­wide. The win­ners are cho­sen by pop­u­lar vote.

“Sur­vivor changes your per­spec­tive on what’s ac­tu­ally im­por­tant,” she says. “When you’re on

Sur­vivor with not much, you just want to be warm, have shel­ter and a bit of food. It’s back to ba­sics.

“A lot of Aus­tralian Sur­vivors come back and make changes to their lives. It’s a real cat­a­lyst. If any­one’s think­ing about go­ing on it, I would say def­i­nitely ap­ply.”

JERICHO MALABONGA

The Qan­tas flight at­ten­dant walked away with the prize pot in the 2017 series — and went back to work. Me­dia reports sug­gested he hadn’t spent a cent of his money but, he says, that’s not en­tirely true. “I did spend some,” he says. “My best buddy on Sur­vivor, Luke, said if he won he was go­ing to take his kids to Dis­ney­land so I said ‘let’s ful­fil that’. We all went there to­gether for a good two weeks.”

The 26-year-old who came to Aus­tralia from the Philip­pines, via New Zealand, fa­mously started his fly­ing ca­reer clean­ing toilets for Jet­star.

He says af­ter his five min­utes of fame, he’d had enough of the self-serv­ing, self-pro­mot­ing side of re­al­ity TV and wanted to use his plat­form for mak­ing a dif­fer­ence.

As well as his re­cent vol­un­teer­ing trip to Cam­bo­dia with other Sur­vivor cast mem­bers, he at­tends char­ity events for men­tal health causes. And he says he will spend his prize­money one day. “I have al­ways wanted to use it for the longevity of my fu­ture,” he says. “I could spend it on what­ever, you know ran­domly buy a boat, but I think it will go to­wards a prop­erty or some­thing.”

Ap­pli­ca­tions for Aus­tralian Sur­vivor 2019 are open via the ten­play web­site

EL ROW­LANDS AND LEE CARSELDINE

JERICHO MALABONGA

KRISTIE BEN­NETT

FELIC­ITY ‘FLICK’ EG­GIN­TON

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