Australian Survivor 2016 contestants, from left, El Rowland (third place getter) and Lee Carseldine (runner-up).
Australian Survivor 2016 contestants, from left, El Rowland (third place getter) and Lee Carseldine (runner-up).

Survival mode: Will you be next to outwit, outplay, outlast?

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 about 2000 applications in the 24 hours after 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-three hour job), supplying pictures and a video.

There's no one "type” the Survivor casting department is looking for, women and men 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 EndemolShine 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 don'ts? 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 checked in with some recent Australian Survivor participants to test the theory:


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 servicewomen's and servicemen's 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.”

Australian Survivor 2016 contestant Felicity
Australian Survivor 2016 contestant Felicity "Flick” Egginton and fiance Jonathan "JJ” Henry.


Being on Survivor brought on a career change for 2016 series fourth place-getter, Gold Coaster 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 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, a contestant from  Australian Survivor .
Tara Pitt, a contestant from Australian Survivor . Nigel Wright


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's and ex-servicewomen's support group, following the suicide of her army veteran father in 2016.

She also joined other Survivor castmates on a volunteering trip to a Cambodian 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, who won Australian Survivor in 2016, at Alligator Creek.
Kristie Bennett, who won Australian Survivor in 2016, at Alligator Creek.


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.”

Australian Survivor winner Jericho Malabonga and runner-up Tara Pitt pictured with host Jonathan LaPaglia in Samoa. Supplied by Channel 10.
Australian Survivor winner Jericho Malabonga and runner-up Tara Pitt pictured with host Jonathan LaPaglia in Samoa. Supplied by Channel 10. Nigel Wright


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 came to Australia from the Philippines via New Zealand and 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 prize money 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 are open at

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