Australian Survivor 2019 – Contenders Assessment

Australian Survivor kicks off Season 4 with another round of Champions vs Contenders!

After the theme and gameplay earned the show its first TV Week Logie Award (Most Outstanding Reality Program), it seems only fitting that Network 10 would revisit the division of players again.

Competing for the title of Sole Survivor and $500,000 are 12 designated ‘Contenders’ across Australia. Below are the Contenders currently revealed in the lineup and my pre-game assessment of them.


JOHN EASTOE – UNDERGROUND GOLD MINER

IMAGE: NETWORK 10

At first glance John appears to be the archetype of an Australian citizen. Maybe the mullet went out in the 70’s, maybe not, but John admits that the perception of him is often as an “outback bogan”. He plans to use this to his advantage and be underestimated while playing Australian Survivor. John sees himself and his fellow Contenders as the underdogs with a fighting spirit ready to take on the Champions. It’s a physical and mental test for John as he relishes in the thought of being the ‘true-blue Aussie’ that Australian Survivor has never seen before. Whether John can keep up with the strategic aspect of the game is unknown based on his initial strategy, but first impressions point him towards being a well-liked and strong individual around camp who might inadvertently find himself in the leader position. Either for better or for worse.

SARAH AYLES – PART TIME CLEANER

IMAGE: NETWORK 10

This tsunami survivor might have already endured the toughest battle of her life, but now Survivor is here to answer the call. Sarah has developed a new outlook on life since the 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami in Sri Lanka, realising second chances don’t come often and that life is valuable. Sarah says her inner resilience and lack of fear are the inner strengths to her personality that may not come across to most people. Important qualities to battle the elements and other players and ultimately outlast until the end. Sarah recognises that the Champions tribe has a chance at beating the Contenders, but does not deny that the Contenders will fight until the bitter end to produce a Sole Survivor. She is firm that her experience has already led her to be a survivor in life, and therefore a strong favourite to win the game overall. I have high hopes for Sarah.

MATTY FARRELLY – TEACHER & WRESTLER

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There’s two sides to every story, and Matty’s varying worlds of teaching and wrestling might be a perfect combination to win Australian Survivor. Confidence is pertinent in Matty’s wrestling career and this is a characteristic required to make big moves within the game. Matty says he is playing to redeem the Contenders after last year’s loss and level the score for Sole Survivor 1-1. His initial strategy is to lay low and form meaningful connections with his tribemates before showing his true colours to become a major player within the game. Matty is one to watch for me, I think he has a lot of potential to be a strong asset in challenges and alliances. But his physical capabilities might make him a target and it would take a lot of scheming and manoeuvring to ensure he stays in the game. If he can gather allies that stay loyal until the merge, Matty might be able to connect with the Champions to launch into the final stages of the season.

DAISY RICHARDSON – TRAVEL AGENT

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Outback Queenslander, Daisy, says she has the determination and mental strength to play Survivor, and she just might be right. Her hometown has suffered three droughts and Daisy claims she’s not afraid to get her hands dirty. Whether this is interpreted as literally, or strategically, or both, is questionable. Regardless, that mentality is sure to be useful for the beginning of the game. Like the other Contenders, Daisy says her tribe has something to prove after last season’s loss to Champion Shane Gould and ideally she would like to tip the scales in the Contenders favour. Similar to Sarah, Daisy agrees that anyone can win Australian Survivor and there’s no reason why this season it couldn’t be her. Daisy’s background and strategy assert the possibility that she is a major competitor this season. She also appears to be a strong physical player, but isn’t too obvious to put a target on her back. If Daisy lays low for a while and then sits in the right alliance, I’d say she at least makes it to the merge.

SHAUN HAMPSON – FORMER AFL PLAYER

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This former AFL player will NOT be debuting on the Champions tribe for Australian Survivor. In fact, Shaun Hampson admits that neither he nor AFL fans would consider him a champion by any means. This doesn’t stop him from appearing on the show though, clearly bringing some ‘star-power’ to the Contenders tribe. Unfortunately, Shaun had an injury-ridden AFL career, letting the door shut quickly on things he says he wanted to achieve and accomplish. What better opportunity to find a new purpose than Survivor? Shaun appears to be very hungry for the win. Morally, it would do himself justice because of the gaps in his footy career but I think he also has enough heart and soul for the game and ensuring he inscribes his own name as a champion. Shaun is a clear favourite to be a physically strong player but I don’t think his social awareness should be underestimated. He comes across as a likeable guy, making him an easy ally for many other contestants.

HANNAH PENTREATH – POLICE OFFICER

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This police officer is fierce, focused, and on fire. Hannah immediately has an edge based on her chosen career. Just two of some of the recent Survivor winners in America were police officers. Clearly, there’s a set of skills learnt that structure a potential Sole Survivor. Hannah acknowledges that first impressions of her are never to do with policing, and she’s using this to her advantage by telling her tribe mates she is a hairdresser. Lying about your career is always risky, but if Hannah stays switched on then it’s unlikely she gives it away. Additionally, she can use it as a tool to establish trust with another player by revealing it at a pivotal point in the game. Shielding her threat level, Hannah has a keen strategy and equally has the determination to win the game. But unlike others, Hannah doesn’t intend to showcase a dominant game and recognises that laying low and listening to conversations are often the major advantages for the future Sole Survivor. I can see her going very far, if not the furthest overall.

ANDY MELDRUM – MARKETING EXECUTIVE

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“I plan to play the most dominant game Survivor has ever seen”, are the opening words Andy uses to detail his strategy this season. Bold words indeed considering the dominant games we’ve seen on Australian Survivor include that of Brian Lake, Sharn Coombes and fellow contestant Luke Toki. Andy wants to be remembered for being a master of the game and I love that he’s prepared to come in with a big attitude and strategy, whether or not it works. He would never admit it, but it’s safe to say that dominance comes with a target almost immediately. Yet Andy is incredibly confident that his dominant game will grant him the win and I have major respect for it. Self-described as an ‘ultra fan’ for 20 years, Andy has analysed and interpreted roughly 40 Sole Survivors and probably aims to fuse all of them together to become the ultimate player he is. He’s already talking about coming back, and regardless of where Andy falls, I think he’s a lock for entertainment.

CASEY HAWKINS – EDUCATOR

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Casey is ready for a new challenge and Australian Survivor came calling just at the right moment. Vowing to push herself to her limits, Casey has already battled uncomfortable settings and situations similar to a beach and no food. The elements won’t likely be too difficult for Casey, as her strategy revolves around comfort ability in a game where comfort lacks both mentally and physically. Casey notes that a winning attitude is the first step to success and this will certainly bode well during the tough days within the game. Whether socially and strategically Casey will grasp a greater understanding is questionable, but I wouldn’t put it past her to be a threat in the game for being likeable in front of a jury. Casey doesn’t strike me as the favourite to be Sole Survivor, or anywhere near it (based on other contestants), although I think she has the capability to go far into the game before a blindside is her ultimate undoing.

HARRY HILLS – ICE CREAM MAKER

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We all scream for ice cream and Harry’s screaming for Sole Survivor! Already, Harry is known to bring joy to the world in the form of creating delicious and sweet ice cream for dessert lovers like myself. If there’s one thing Harry puts on par with his love of ice cream it’s his obsession with Survivor (me too, Harry, me too). Harry hopes to be underestimated by his fellow Contenders, even using ‘camouflage’ to disguise his strategic prowess. He has a few life skills that will come in handy this season, not to mention being a fan of Survivor as a key asset to navigating through the lies and betrayals to come. Harry is also set to beat the Champions and provide a Contender as the Sole Survivor, although I’m sure ultimately he’d like to be the one to represent. There’s a subtle appeal about Harry that instantly makes you think he’s a loyal and friendly guy and what’s even better about this is that Harry acknowledges these qualities as useful. I think there’s a great chance Harry goes deep into the game if he plays his card right.

LAURA CHOONG – DIGITAL MARKETING MANAGER

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Don’t let Laura’s height fool you! Laura has one of the loudest and determined attitudes of the cast this season. Being so small, Laura has been overlooked much in her life and it’s likely assumptions will be made of her Day 1 on the Contenders beach. But it won’t take long for Laura to prove how vocal she is, and it might even cause her to be an early boot. Laura admits that she tends to speak her mind, sometimes more than necessary. In Survivor, speaking your mind too much is almost never a winning formula and often in Australian Survivor big personalities that rub off the wrong way tend to go home before the merge. Laura has a fire lit under her and I don’t underestimate she’s capable of a strong strategic game. However, the way she will likely brush off on fellow players might force her into a position of being the ‘easy vote’. And that’s never a position you want to be in early in the game. If Laura can hold her tongue, I think she can do well. But, I think it’s unlikely.

BADEN GILBERT – PHD STUDENT

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Looking for a stereotypical Survivor player? Well Baden is just the opposite if you ask him. A social outsider? Yes. Is it a strength for him? Also yes. Baden wants to prove something and you can only become Sole Survivor in so many ways that suit you and if Baden needs to play on his social awkwardness then it doesn’t discount him from being a strong player within the game. Baden wants to start taking risks and Australian Survivor is a risk filled game in its entirety. Can Baden outlast everyone to win the game? I think it’s possible but I think it’s more likely he’s blindsided by his alliance for being too good a the game. Yes, Baden is an underdog. But underdogs don’t always win Survivor. I can see Baden attaching himself to one of the strong men while keeping his hand firmly in the cookie jar with the women, allowing himself to be situated in the middle of the tribe. A good position early on but ultimately it might just be his undoing when his tribe mates figure his game out.

SAM SCHOERS – VIP GAMING MANAGER

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Is Sam a familiar face to Reality TV? No. In fact, Sam previously competed on and almost won The Amazing Race Australia. Perhaps that’s why she’s on the Contenders tribe and not the Champions. But Sam isn’t all about her previous run in a Reality TV competition, instead Sam handles events and wining and dining for exclusive guests at her job as a VIP Gaming Manager. Intimidation is often associated with Sam based on her appearance but she disagrees with the assumption saying she doesn’t think she’s any better than the next person. Much like other Contenders, Sam is hoping to be underestimated and use the notion she’s a “pretty little blonde” to deceive tribe members of her strong and strategic game. I don’t get the impression Sam wants her tribe mates to recognise her for The Amazing Race and I don’t blame her. Having past experience on Reality TV could come back to bite and I think Sam will do anything to make sure she doesn’t lose again.

Overall, I think this season’s tribe of Contenders is much more strategically savvy than the Champions. A lot of them want to be underestimated which means the bigger personalities are likely to stand out stronger and earlier than perhaps thought. However, I do think it’s extremely possible a Contender takes out the win this season as all of them seem to have one common theme: determination.


Be sure to watch the Australian Survivor premiere on Wednesday, July 24th at 7:30pm on Channel 10!


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