The biggest moments from the first episode of Australian Survivor.

There’s been a lot of hype around Survivor Australia’s relaunch.

From concerns about it being too similar to the failed Channel 9 spin-off back in 2002, to not being similar enough to its stratospherically popular American parent, the expectations on this castaway reality were always going to high.

And if episode one is anything to go by, the theme of season 2016 is already clear: it’s similar to both, but not too similar.

Channel 10’s selection of host, Jonathan LaPaglia is about as Jeff Probst with an Aussie accent as you can get.

The choice is comfortable. It’s familiar. And by choosing the brother of one of Australia’s most loved actors and injecting a sense of familiarity, it’s incredibly safe. He also looks confident in shorts, which helps.

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Australian Survivor host, Jonathan LaPaglia. Source: Australian Survivor / Channel 10.

Episode one begins with the types of long pans and dramatic music that could easily be confused for a David Attenborough documentary. Waves crashing on rocks, sun peaking through the clouds, crabs crawling along a beach, shots of a full moon.


The remote Samoan island of Upolu, where the castaways have been marooned, again, looks like an extreme version of a familiar place.

And to Survivor diehards it should look familiar, because two seasons of the American version of the show have previously been filmed there.

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Can you feel the drama brewing? Source: Australian Survivor / Channel 10

From here, we're lead to LaPaglia standing majestically on a rock and getting into the real reason we're all here - the game out outwitting, outplaying and outlasting everyone else for 55 days in a bid to win half a million dollars.

Wait, I'm sorry. What?

Traditionally, the rules of Survivor are 39 days for $1 million (USD, nonetheless) prize money.

But for some reason, this was the point at which the powers that be at Channel 10 were like, "Nah, let's make a point of difference." Competing for an extra 16 days for less than half the competition money? Sure. Why not?

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It's island time. Source: Australian Survivor / Channel 10

As shots of the castaways being brought onto the island emerge, one clear question comes to mind. Were these people carried off by producers in the middle of Friday night drinks? Call me old fashioned, but red blazers and Air Max 90s aren't exactly screaming practical in a remote location.

Mercifully, the classic American casting format has been followed to a tee.

There are the upstarts who go on and on about not being underestimated (Conner, Kristie, Rohan); the pack-sitters who are likely to go under the radar until later in the game and are the easiest to pick off when things get hairy at tribal council (Bianca, El, Matt); the sage competitors who are often the real dark horses (Lee, Peter, Kylie); the obvious threats (Nick, Sam); and, a couple of outspoken nan and pop types in their 50s or above (Sue and Des).

Throw in some broad Australian accents and the 24 castaways really begin to bring the series into its own.

Throw in some broad Australian accents and the 24 castaways really begin to bring the series into its own.


Aganoa tribe member Kat did not get the "dress for survival" memo. Source: Australian Survivor / Channel 10

The first challenge emerges as players are split into three tribes - Saanapu (blue),Vavau (yellow), and Aganoa (red) - and ordered to compete for the ultimate prizes of food, tools, and fire.

Grabbing as many items from a floating raft as possible, the question of how to carry a chicken to a raft quickly emerges and it becomes evident that despite being stranded on an island, not all of the castaways are strong swimmers.

Saanapu eventually wins the gift of fire and the three tribes return to the island to set up their camps and get to know their new teammates.

Video by Australian Survivor

From here, the rest of the episode largely revolves around the establishment (or lack thereof) of camp sites and contestants confidently reassuring viewers that their strategy is different to everyone else's and they will be the one to win.

When the first immunity challenge rolls around it is already clear that there is discontent among the tribes and alliances are emerging.

Crowd favourite Des has made himself known in the Aganoa tribe and hasn't exactly made himself any friends. But he's confident that by playing the elderly simpleton card and sitting back he'll make it through to the end.

Crowd favourite Des has made himself known in the Aganoa tribe and hasn't exactly made himself any friends but he's confident that by playing the elderly simpleton card and sitting back he'll make it through to the end.

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It's immunity challenge time! Source: Australian Survivor / Channel 10

If scaling two A-frames, rolling over a net and teetering along a bridge obstacle doesn't sound like your cup of tea, spare a thought for the competitors doing it in bikinis.

The challenge is by all accounts gruelling and physically demanding, eventually being won by Saanapu, with Vavau coming in second. Within seconds of losing, Des has thrown his hands in the air and become public enemy number one amongst his tribe.

But spending the afternoon scrambling for votes, it suddenly emerges that Des is a bit of a master craftsman of the outdoors and he begins constructing an incredible shelter for the tribe and showing younger players how to thatch fronds into a roof.

By this point, everyone's like, "ahh what, mate? Where did you come from and where were you when the camp was getting washed away this morning?" Mostly, they're just massively pissed, making his attempt to assimilate a futile one.


Hey look, Des can do stuff. What? Source: Australian Survivor / Channel 10

Finally, the first tribal council arrives, and LaPaglia has worn his special Sunday night flanny for the occasion.

After much deliberation from Aganoa as to who is at fault for them being at the elimination ceremony in the first place, the votes are cast.

Tragically, it's Dessy's head that gets chopped, earning himself a vote from every other member of the tribe but himself.

It seems his strategy of being the tribe curmudgeon that throws shade all day wasn't so foolproof after all. It's a bitter pill to swallow, but such is the game of Survivor. 

RIP Des. Source: Australian Survivor / Channel 10.

And after what feels like an advertiser's dream eternity, LaPaglia is finally uttering the show's most magic words.

"The tribe has spoken," he says as though the spirit of Jeff Probst is possessing him.

Taking a cup to Des' flame, the trained medic smites the dream of an old man, and we watch on, knowing that this is JUST THE FLIPPING BEGINNING.

Listen to The Binge talk all things Australian Survivor.