Previously on Australian Survivor, there were two seasons that aired on rival networks that sucked and were swiftly axed. Then, years later, Channel 10 swooped in, powered by the rippling guns of Jonathan Lapaglia and Australian Survivor was reborn, at first coy and filled with mateship, the snakes took control and four epic seasons later, 24 of the best are pack for another shot at the crown.
Well 20ish of the best, some fallen angels – who transcend the title of best – and my nemesis Zach, who’s only redeeming feature was a skinny dip. Though it will never compare to Locky and John’s nude scenes, which live forever in my heart.
But wait, I’m getting ahead of myself. And a little bit distracted. And short of breath.
Deep in the Fijian jungle we see a group of people exiting a swamp led by Daisy while Nick, AK and their snake posse emerged from the grass like the raptor scene of The Lost World. We then finally got some Shon-tent as the fourth place robbed goddesses and Brooke climbed through mangroves like they were searching for Ziggy’s super idol. Tarzan was joined by a duo of runner-ups, in the form of Sharn and Lee. The latter of whom hates me enough to block me on social media. Oh and then the challenge beasts emerged, featuring my nude zaddies, Lydia and Abbey. And oh how I look forward to Lydia’s second blindside.
Eventually the 24 castaways joined together to meet Jonathan at the shore, with Shonee and Michelle becoming the fastest of friends. And Lydia crapping her dacks at the sight of Shane. After welcoming the crew to their second go around, Tarzan shared it was an honour to play opposite Shane Gould while Lydia tried to play coy about her simmering rage at the aforementioned Olympic hero. David was surprisingly short on words, sharing that he is simply here for revenge. With the brief chit chat out of the way Jonathan separated everyone into their tribes, with Vakama consisting of Daisy, Locky, Mat, David, Flick, Tarzan, Brooke, Moana, Jacqui, Jericho, Phoebe and AK, while the Mokuta tribe featured Shane, Harry, Henry, Lee, Slaychelle, John, Shonee, Sharn, Abbey, Lydia, Nick and Zach.
Not wasting any time, Jonathan explained that they would be competing in their first reward challenge, where they would be required to push a heavy sled through a course, collect firewood, build a massive bonfire and burn through a rope … in exchange for a fully built shelter, complete with flint. Which is the biggest advantage possible on day one. Mokuta got out to an early lead, no doubt thanks to the dream team of Shane and Shonee, and a little bit of help from Zaddy John. Until they were too good at loading up their sled, making it too hard to push and allowing Vakama to close the gap. Mokuta got a second wind however, getting them to the end first, starting working on the fire while Vakama continued to narrow the gap.
With Vakama happy with their bonfire, Henry walked out to collect a torch, light it, found a clue and shoved it in his pants. And just like that, I love Henry again and am moister than an oyster. As he walked back to his tribe he passed Mat and told him where to find a clue, in the hopes that he could make a friend on the other tribe. Meanwhile both tribes continued to build their structures, waiting for the right moment to light their photo. Ultimately Vakama were the first to light their fire, while Mokuta stood firm and waited to build their structure taller. Which proved to be the smart move, as their fire continued to grow and burnt through the rope, handing them palatial digs, while Vakama was desperately on its way to get more firewood.
The game truly kicked off as Mokuta arrived at their swanky home, with Queen Shonee thrilled to have started off with some legit luck. Her fellow Queen Michelle was thrilled by their surroundings and the kumbuya nature of the tribe. And Nick was focused on the fact that everyone is completely built. Speaking of which, John was quick to get down to his speedos and once again, he is my favourite. And hell, my King. Speaking of my Zaddy squad, Henry went for a wander to find out that his clue was for a hidden immunity idol, which he could conveniently snatch from tribal council behind where everyone leaves their torches. However it sadly only was good for the first three tribals, meaning he shouldn’t have pointed the clue out to Mat.
Speaking of Mat, he and the Vakama tribe arrived at their far less palatial digs and got to work turning it into something liveable. Which honestly seems like a ridiculously hard task. OG nude zaddy Locky was quick to take charge, advising everyone to go get bamboo, bring it back and they will try to pull something together. Splitting up to work, David quickly started to make friends, charming his way through the tribe while Tarzan sat back and displayed a surprisingly astute read of where everyone and their egos stood. Fully aware that David’s charm is something he is already falling for.
We returned to Mokuta where Shane was talking John through everyone’s swimming ability, with the zaddy asking the Queen for some lessons and honestly I ship the hell out of the two of them. We then learnt that she is a doctor in chimp studies which led to arguably the greatest 30 seconds of TV highlighting her tribemates acting like primates. Not to be outdone, Shane put that study into practice, apologising to Lydia and charming Shonee – who straight up calls her babes – and Henry. After teeing up a secret alliance with Henry, she went wandering for idols which made Harry feel extremely nervous. As he complained to Zach. Vom.
Over at Vakama AK was trying to bond with David, coining himself the Silver Prince before the duo mocked the other tribe for being so low rent. David continued to charm the tribe, going person to person winning them over and finding that despite painting such a huge target on his back last season, everyone wants to work with him. Before we had the chance to see if any alliances eventuated, Mat interrupted proceedings to read his clue and while he played hard on his first season, I just don’t see him being bold enough to snatch an idol in front of everyone.
That night Mokuta were still loving their palatial digs, sitting around their fire pit while Vakama sat in the cold, dark, windy shore and hot damn, I just saw Moana for the first time. Has she been here this entire time? The next day things weren’t looking much better as the freezing, exhausted castaways stood around as Locky desperately rubbed his stick for fire.
My love Jonathan returned for the first immunity challenge of the season where the tribes had to race over a set of A-frames and barge through a series of sticks. They then need to carry people down the course on rods before smashing boxes a stone wall to release five balls which they must use to shoot some hoops, with the first to finish snatching immunity. Once again Mokuta got out to an early lead, though Vakama kept close on their heels. In no small part because Mat climbed Locky like the damn sexy tree that he is. Locky then used himself like a battering ram – and you know what I want him to batter – crushing through the second obstacles and handing the lead to Vakama. Well until Mokuta snatched it back on the poles. The lead went back and forth until Vakama found their rhythm and extended their lead, giving David and AK a two person advantage at shooting hoops. Which they needed as AK struggled to shoot. Eventually Mokuta closed the gap, though sadly it was as AK found his eye, shooting basket after basket and snatching the first immunity for Vakama.
Back at camp the Mokuta tribe were well and truly dejected, though quickly tried to pretend they played hard and couldn’t have done any better. Well except for Queen Michelle who didn’t care about getting better in challenges, she just wanted to survive until the next challenge. Before the icon could make her move, we checked in with Lydia who confirmed that she has well and truly held a grudge against Shane since her blindside and as such, plans to get her revenge tonight. As such, she approached Harry and learnt that he too had some issues with Shane. And hopefully could use that to pull together the numbers to blindside her on her behalf.
While Harry respected Shane’s sneaky game, he sadly saw it as a threat rather than an opportunity to be mentored by a freaking Olympic champion. Sneaky or not. While Shane was off openly hunt for idols, Harry tried to deflect his own massive target and instead pull everyone in one by one to vote out everyone’s favourite potty mouthed grandmother. Abbey was in, as were Nick and Shonee, and Henry and Michelle. Well until Shane stumbled upon them and interrupted the planning. While the group dispersed and returned to camp, Henry and Michelle asked who Shane was targeting with the icon straight up pointing to Harry who was IN THE CONVERSATION, TWO STEPS AHEAD. Fucking icon.
This wooed Henry and Michelle, who got to work to flip the numbers on Harry and save our Queen. Henry approached Zach and Nick to see if they would be keen to join them, with Nick wisely cautioning him that it is way too soon to be sticking their necks out and to just follow the numbers for the first vote. Back at camp Lydia was trying to charm Shonee into joining the numbers to get rid of Harry before Nick interrupted and caught them up on the potential change in plans. Which really pissed off Lydia, who couldn’t bear the thought of Shane lasting one more day.
At tribal council Michelle spoke about the polar opposites of day one and two in the game, with the first spent smugly enjoying their palatial digs while day two was about fights tooth and nail to find friends. Lydia tried to play it calm, while obviously telling everyone to stick to the plan like our version of Keith Nale. Shane immediately took issue with the idea of going with the simple plan, saying the game is more complex and they are all better than getting rid of a former winner for that simple reason. Nick preached the virtues of taking a backseat, earning Jonathan’s wrath for changing his tune between seasons. Henry joined the fray admitting that letting somebody do the dirty work is always a great option, while Harry tried to again sell the vote as an easy one.
Jonathan asked Lydia straight up whether she was out for revenge tonight, giving one of the least convincing assurances that she and Shane had kissed and made up. While Shane pretended that she believed they had healed their wounds, her reminder that it is a new game and everyone has a clean slate says that she is nervous. We finally heard from Sharn, who casually tried to protect the woman that bested her before Henry turned the talk to idols while looking over his shoulder at the one in the tree. Harry tried to call out Shane for looking for an idol, though the icon was unashamed about the fact she is desperate for any form of protection. Lydia tried to return the focus to loyalty and sticking to the plan before Jonathan sent them all off to vote.
Shocking absolutely nobody, Lydia went with the revenge vote and led the tribe to get rid of Shane, the woman that destroyed her while she failed to win immunity at the merge. While I started to shake with rage, Shane held her head high and exited with class … before throwing some shade, playing dumb about not knowing what to do when it comes to getting your torch snuffed.
Oh and I should mention that Henry successfully snatched the hidden immunity idol without anyone but Jonathan noticing.
I was sobbing uncontrollably by the time Shane arrived at Loser Lodge and like Quentin before her, she scooped me up in her arms and told me that everything was going to be ok.
“Ben, don’t fuck with me. I am ok, you are ok, the season will be ok – Shonee is still there, and Lydia will soon be bested once again. Just by a different icon. Be thankful that I am following in the footsteps of the great Tina Wesson – first to worst, and if I get the chance to play again, I promise you that I will be the fourth place robbed goddess.”
And with that near soliloquy – as I languished between awake and blinded by pain – I came to, perked up and got to work whipping up a triumphant Shancken & Mangould Filo. First boot placing, be damned!
While goulash felt like the right way to honour her victory, I felt this little number was the perfect mix of spicy and sweet like the queen, icon, legend that is Shane Gould. The flaky pastry melts away leaving you with a punch of chilli that glides over our taste buds on a oozy, creamy boat of cheese.
Like Shane, it is perfection.
Shancken & Mangould Filo
4 chicken breasts, sliced in half and beaten into 1cm thick steaks
1 cup cream cheese
2 mangoes, peeled, seeded and diced pieces
¼ cup sweet chilli sauce
sea salt and black pepper, to taste
16 sheets filo pastry
¼ cup melted butter
Preheat oven to 170°C.
Lay the flattened breasts out and lay a slice of cream cheese in the middle. Add a couple of pieces of mango on top and drizzle with a bit of sweet chilli. Season with salt and pepper and fold the breast over to enclose the filling, like a big, meaty cigar.
To assemble, place two filo sheets on a clean surface and place a piece of chicken in the centre of one end. Roll the pastry over to cover, fold in each end and then wrap the rest of the sheet up. Repeat the process until you have eight parcels.
Brush with butter and place on a lined baking sheet. Transfer to oven and bake for 20-30 minutes or until they are golden and crisp. Oh and cooked through.