Featured Survivor

Farewell…

The sun came up like it does every morning and we got just the right mix of 1/3 salt water to 2/3 fresh water for our rice (thanks Lukie for that tip). I could hear the chopping of the coconut and the sound of the ocean rolling in.  I did not realise at the time that this was my last night on the Fiji island.

The beach in the front is not very wide, only about 400 metres from one end to the other. When the tide is out, there is literally no water for about 200 meters, but even then, it is beautiful in its extremes.

Our shelter, that we built on day one, still stood up and had done us well. At night when it rained we would listen to how hard the rain fell on the roof. We knew that the roof could handle drizzle but anything more than that meant we had very little protection.

The sun rises about 6.30am and sets about 6pm and you quickly learn exactly where the sun is when it is setting. If you miss it, you are plummeted in to pitch black with no idea where your gear is. Rosco taught me how to look at the weather and to try and predict if it was going to rain or not. He always said that he was a 30% chance of being right, but I have to say his accuracy was more like 70%.

I asked a producer before I came onto the show if he had any tips and he said that this game can break the strongest but the ones that do well are the ones that see the beauty in every day.

I thought this was good advice for both Survivor and in life so I did just that.

The sun sets were beautiful, the chatter around the fire was good for the soul, the swimming in the water was refreshing, the friendship I made in Pia gave me strength and security in the game, there was a lot to see the good in.

Of course, there is the dirt, the cold, the wet, the scary challenges, the manipulation, but when I think of my time on Survivor all I can think about is the laughs and good times.

PHOTOGRAPH BY NIGEL WRIGHT.

Letters from home

I am sure you as the reader can see, I am very pragmatic in the show, I think ahead, I use my social skills to help keep people together to create a strong alliance, I do not let things worry me (on the surface anyway), I am focused and disciplined in my approach on Survivor and in life.

I am also one that puts my emotions in a box to dip into them only when I need to. That was before the letters from home…

On day 42 we were doing our normal routine in the morning and we were told that there was tree mail.  Now, it can get boring on the beach so this was the highlight of the day. The tree mail told us two every exciting things:

  1. There was food up on the beach and 2. That we had letters from home.

I am a real family person and my husband is my rock and the love of my life but like all couples you can get into a certain comfortable normality, you take each other for granted, you get annoyed at the little stuff and you find that your iPhone, or computer is far more interesting than the people around you.  When I left for Survivor my husband was spending 3-4 days at the farm and I was busy in Melbourne.

There was nothing wrong with our marriage, in fact it is better than most, but we were certainly not being the best couple we could be. Jeff is also a practical man and I had no doubt that he would get on with anything that happened at home, deal with anything in the business and help finish the house that we were building.

What I did not realise until I had his letter in my hand was how much I loved and missed him and from the words in the letter how much he loved and missed me.

We both realised by being away from each other how much we meant to one another, how much we have been taking each other for granted and how much we had started to drift apart.

As you can see on Survivor, I am not a highly emotional person. I only cried two times, first when Rosco hurt himself and the second, which was a sob, was when I read my husband’s letter.

We have been married for over 22 years and I know him well, so just reading the first line I knew that he was struggling without me and that he missed me more than we both thought possible.  Reading his letter unlocked all those emotions that I had quite cleverly kept pushed down and the flood gates opened.

I did not think I would be able to read it without breaking down.  At this stage in the game I am looking bloody rough and I knew that I was a really ugly crier but nothing could not stop the emotion and tears flowing.

Getting back after the game, our relationship could not be better, our love is so strong and our friendship even stronger. I needed him more on that day than I ever needed anyone.

It was very hard once the flood gates opened to put all those emotions carefully back in that emotion box in my heart and continue to play the game, but we had to do just that.

 

My final Challenge

I knew I was in trouble and would need to win the next immunity and this challenge was a ripper.

It was rope management, balance, throwing and puzzle.  All which I thought I was ok at.

Johnathan did his “Survivors……. GO” line and off we went.  I was doing well and started to feel confident, until my rope got tangled!  Raaaaahhh!

PHOTOGRAPH BY NIGEL WRIGHT.

As I am unwinding myself people were getting further and further away from me. Finally, I got the rope untied, scrambled through the tight rope and then onto the throwing, with the pressure of trying to go fast to catch up I missed too many throws and was still behind. Finally, I got to the puzzle and off I went, once again I ended up about third, but no necklace.

Back into camp and we all start our conversations.

I have a logical brain, I simply thought that people would play to get them further in the game, i.e. play for their best interests.  Us three girls were the oldest and strongest alliance in the game and with 6 of us left, our three votes were the most important and powerful votes in the game. If we got to five votes then we were unstoppable to the final three, so even though Luke was wooing Abbey I still believed that anyone could see the logic in a strong three, not in a strong two.   However, I underestimated Luke’s power of persuasion and Abbey played me.  Pia and I spoke and we knew that it was one of us going.

Abbey was going from Harry to Luke to Baden and back to us.

The conversation that I had with Luke gave me some comfort that he was still with me.  Luke is not stupid, he knows that no one would want to go to the end with him, so the proposal was that we vote out Baden which means that left, Harry, Abby, Pia, Luke and myself – which in Luke’s minds gives him one further barrier vote of Harry before we would get to voting for Luke.  This made sense to me as we were all looking at Baden as a person everyone would be happy to go to final two with.

Luke’s suggestion of voting out Baden made sense to me and I knew that it would work for Luke and in fairness, that was my gameplay the whole time, make calls that worked for the best interest of the group or the person I was speaking to.

I was about 70% sure I was not going home, the main reason was it was in the best interest of Abbey (strong three), Luke (get rid of Baden and you have Harry as the next obvious vote) and Pia (because I simply loved her and we were tight). So, with logic on my side I thought that even though they are gunning for me, I was hoping their self-interest would prevail.

Unfortunately, this was not the case and I went home.

Jury Villa

I entered Jury Villa hesitantly, you are always a bit nervous as you were part of the reason that these other people were sitting here. However, they were a delight, they welcomed me with open arms and we ate a serious feast to fill (or should I say over fill) my belly.

I got to have my first call with Jeff and Tahlia which was emotional and invigorating, I slept in a bed for the first time in 44 days, I showered in a real shower and fell blissfully asleep.

We were so lucky with the personalities in the Jury Villa. There was David, Shaun, John, Daisy and Simon who are all amazing people. The vibe was like a party, the food was plentiful, as was the sun and the atmosphere, it was so very different to living on the island.

I was feeling bad for Pia as for the last 44 days we were each other’s rock, but I knew her inner strength and she was a fighter, she would be fine and had a great chance of winning.

The Friends That I Made

There are many things on Survivor that are hard, but my favourite thing was the hours of getting to know people and the little moments.  Here are some of my memories of some of the people.

Harry: In the early days of knowing Harry we did not spend that much time together because I didn’t think he was going to be there long.  The first time we tried to get him out, the Survivor Gods got the Contenders to take one of our tribe members and they took Shaun, Harry was supposed to go that night. The next time he had an idol, upon returning to the camp we laughed, I patted him on the back and thought, I will get you next time.  The third time, once again, he had an idol and Matt went home. This was the turning point, we laughed again, I called him the cockroach and we started to seriously talk about working together and we would have had to if Rosco did not hurt himself.

Pia and I saw merit in working with Harry going forward, the reasons were: that he was a good game player, he knew when to keep his mouth shut (the hardest thing to find in Survivor) and I thought he had a similar game plan to Pia and I.

Once again after merge he nearly went again when David was voted out, if David had played his idol Harry was out.

I like Harry, even though he is playing the villain and he wanted the Godmother gone, he is a good guy and I really enjoyed playing with him.

David:  My impression of David when I first saw him, was that he was too cool for school.

He had a leather jacket (good call), a cap and a strut that was the best strut I have ever seen.  But then he smiles and he is warm and funny and not stuck up at all.

David was my first person in my alliance, the real David was there on day one and he was genuinely a good guy. David played the game the hardest on the island and he was playing a character to win.  When the power went to his head, we saw a new David, one that we did not like so much and that everyone wanted out. I was thrilled to get to know the real David in Jury and he is a dude. He is funny, witty and very talented.  I hope we remain friends for years to come.

Rosco:  I admit, Rosco was one of my favourites.  He was always smiling (other than when he got hurt). He taught me how to find the child within and he really did look after us ladies.  He was naughty: he did nearly burn down our camp, he did set Harry on fire and was always dropping things on his foot. He is one of the reasons I loved playing Survivor.  We have caught up since we’ve been back home and I will continue to make sure we stay close.

Daisy:  I did not have a lot to do with Daisy as she was never in my alliance, other than for a short time in the spa, but my admiration for Daisy is immense as what she endured on Exile beach with a storm that was as fierce as I have ever seen before, showed the real character that she had. There is not a bad bone in Daisy’s body and I wish her all the best 😊.

John: Was super likeable, funny and did not take life too seriously.  He had incredible work ethic and was never still. I was sad I did not spend too much time with him, but I was lucky enough to spend more time with him in Jury Villa. We did a yoga session together and he is bloody good at it.

Abbey: I am so fond of Abbey, she is a driven, competitive power house, who will have massive success in life simply because she will make it happen.  There are two sides to Abbey; the sweet, soft, emotional side and the challenge beast (who you do not mess with, by the way).  I remember in the water football challenge where she screamed at me… “go the body J”, which I did and took poor Daisy down and broke her top in the process.  I loved both sides, I loved competing with her and we were close from day one. I felt very protective of Abbey.  We have caught up many times since the end of filming and I love seeing her every time.

Lukie:  How can you not love Lukie? That is his superpower, that he is so bloody loveable.   He was always smiling and cheeky.  It does not matter what challenges are in his life, he sees them all as good. He never complained once, and was always working, whether that be working with us all with game play or around camp, he is the perfect Survivor player. You better be on his side, because if you are not beware!

Shaun: I did not get to play with Shaun much as we were only together for a few days, but you could see when he was around that he was a leader that people wanted to follow.  He had that perfect mix of likeability and intelligence to know what was going on and how to change it.  I have caught up with him post game with Megan and once again I hope we continue our friendship.

Simon: I was with Simon the whole time and you will not find a more loyal and kinder man. Despite being starving, he always made sure everyone had enough to eat, he was always working around camp and always supported his alliance, whether that was the sporting alliance or ours. Simon spoke so much about his beautiful wife that I feel like I know her. I hope to meet her face to face in the near future.

Baden: I only met Baden at merge. He genuinely wanted the best for his tribe. Was he quirky? Yes. Did he love scaping the rice pot? Sure. But his intentions were always the best. I loved getting to know him.

Pia:  I saved the best for last.  What I was concerned about going into Survivor was that I wanted to trust someone, someone that I could have their back and they have mine and I found this in a 5ft 2-inch-tall actress called Pia.

We hit is off straight away and she was my sleeping buddy.  The sleeping area we slept in was smaller than a single bed and it was freezing, so nearly every night I had Pia in my arms for warmth and comfort.  We never got sick of each other, we never ran out of conversation and we kept each other sane during the time we were both in.

Pia was also my moral compass.  There were many Survivor lies going around and that is part of the game but I never once lied to Pia. She was on my team and the plan was always to get to the end together by protecting each other along the way.  Pia and I catch up on a regular basis, either in person or via text or phone, our daughters are great friends and communicate as much as we do and I hope that we can do some projects together. Pia was my love story in Survivor.

 

The Editors

There may be things in this blog that are a bit different to what you see on the TV. For example, Daisy on Exile, Simon’s fake clue, cut down versions of challenges (if they did the full version it would be boring) etc.

You have to remember that there are thousands of hours of footage that they need to go through and cut it down to 60 or 90 minutes to tell a story that makes sense.

There may be some twists and turns to make sure that story is told well but the essence of what you see is how it happened.   The people of Survivor take the show very seriously, there are no short cuts with regard to us, we did it tough and they make no apologies for this, this is what we signed up for. They also let the game play out with nil or very little interference.  I know as humans we always think that certain things are rigged or we go to hotels room at night.  This is not the case with Survivor, the integrity of the show was always put first.   I personally think the editors and production team did an amazing job in telling the story and showing the viewers the game of Survivor and our experiences out in Fiji.

Thanks to Channel TEN and Endemol Shine for having me. I had a ball.

PHOTOGRAPH BY NIGEL WRIGHT.

Grateful

There are many things to take from being stranded on a deserted island for 44 days but the biggest is gratefulness.

When everything is taken away from you it is amazing how humbling that is.

First is your family, you realise that you do take them for granted and you are not always present in their company. I must have thought the iPhone and other technology was far more important than having real relationships?

Flavours – when you have nothing but rice, beans, coconut and the odd papaya it makes food very dull.

A door and window, a bed and blanket, a brush (who would I kill for a brush?) Something to keep you dry and your friends are all things you become so grateful for when you get out.

It is the most humbling experience that I have ever had and one that I am grateful for to be able to open my eyes to how much better your life can be if you only appreciated it more.

Thanks for reading my journey of Survivor, I hope it gave you a bit more of an insight to what it was like on a deserted island for 44 days.

There are three more episodes and they are rippers.  Enjoy!

To catch up on episodes check out: Survivor on Ten Play

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6 Comments

  • Reply
    Paula
    September 10, 2019 at 11:32 am

    Thank you so much Janine for your insight into your Survivor ride. I have loved watching you on the show and the way you played the game. So controlled and level headed which are great attributes but unfortunately with your smart business mind you became a target as you were such a threat. Well done!

  • Reply
    Matt
    September 10, 2019 at 2:06 pm

    What a great write up J! You are an incredibly inspiring leader and I loved watching you on Survivor. I was first introduced to you by watching Shark Tank and over the years I think I’ve listened to just about every podcast, whether that be your own podcast with Margie, or any of others that you’ve been on. Survivor has always been a favorite show of mine, so when I heard you were on – I was pretty stoked!

    I think you played an excellent game and I know that your family would be very proud. I was certainly hoping you’d be crowned sole Survivor but now I am gunning for Pia as well, what a great team you both made. You have always inspired me to do more and be more, I have certainly used your words of wisdom as I continue to grow my own company and watching you on Survivor was no different. I feel even more inspired!

    Well done on your Survivor journey! I look forward to hearing all about it in some new podcasts!

  • Reply
    Ondrej
    September 11, 2019 at 12:22 am

    Loving your Survivor love story, what a great and unique type of a player you are, I also really liked how you appreciated the nature, Greetings from Slovakia

  • Reply
    Steve Brooks
    September 11, 2019 at 1:09 am

    I’ve loved reading your blog, thanks for taking the time!!

  • Reply
    Patrick
    September 11, 2019 at 10:07 am

    Janine, you are one my favorite people I’ve ever watched on Survivor. Not just Australian Survivor, but in every franchise worldwide. It was truly incredible watching a character like you throughout the show, because characters like you are few and far between. Seeing you expertly navigate through the game was so enjoyable, your awareness and ability to take emotion out of your decisions was astounding. On top of that, you and Pia were one of the best duos of all time, and the Abbey-Janine-Pia trio was incredible. From the bottom of my heart, thank you Janine. It was truly a blessing for you to grace our TV screens.

  • Reply
    Andy Muenz
    September 11, 2019 at 11:45 am

    Thank you for posting these, Janine. It’s been great to learn about things we don’t see on camera. I have to say this is one of my favorite final 6 groups of all time (including all the US seasons, 2 seasons of New Zealand, 2 seasons of South Africa, and the last 4 seasons of Australia). Everyone is likeable in their own way and there is no one who I would feel didn’t deserve to win or is being brought along as a goat.

    Thanks for giving us such a great season.

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