“I Thought I Was Going to Die”: ‘Survivor’s’ Gerald on the Downside of Winning Reward

Welcome to the ‘Survivor Five’ — where we asked each contestant eliminated from Australian Survivor: Brains vs Brawn five questions about their time in one of the most gruelling reality competitions in the world.

Champion wood chopper Gerald Youles became the 15th person voted out of Australian Survivor: Brains vs Brawn after yet another blindside orchestrated by political operative George.

George’s plan involved flushing the Immunity Idol that Flick had been given by Kez, as the pro-surfer vowed to use it to protect Emmett from Dani’s plan of attack. The second prong of the attack, which went off without a hitch was a majority vote against Gerald, leading to his exit from the camp.

But first, the castaways were tasked with one of the toughest challenges yet — an excruciating trial in which they had to suspend a weighted disc with their feet while battling with pain, discomfort, the searing heat and relentless flies.

“It was an absolutely brutal challenge,” Youles told The Latch following his elimination. “Doing those challenges and even just being in Survivor in general, and out in the bush, you’ve got to learn to be alone with your thoughts and be happy. And be able to live with your thoughts in that moment.”

As for the blindside that saw him voted out of the game after 33 days, Youles said, “When it happens, you never really know that it’s going to be you and in the moment it’s always going to be a shock. It’s not a great feeling. But I wasn’t angry or anything like that, I was more disappointed with myself because I knew George had been a mole. From the moment Kez got voted out, I knew it was George 100%.”

What did you do to prepare before going on the show?

“I had certainly been trying to do some physical training and keeping my physical training up before I went in. I’d actually competed at the Sydney Royal Easter Show and placed in the big (wood chopping) world championships down there only two or three days before I left to go to Survivor.

“I’d also absolutely been hammering the food before I went for two months trying to put on weight. I knew I was going to lose a shit tonne of weight so I was trying to pack on some so I didn’t end up feeling physically weak. A lot of those shredded guys go out there, and after two, three, four weeks of no protein and minimal calories your body starts eating its own muscle mass rather than burning fat and you get physically weakened, you feel lethargic and tired. So I tried to mitigate that as much as I could and keep that in check.

“By day 33 I was feeling fit and feeling a million bucks. There were some mornings I even got up and went for a run up the riverbed before we started because that lack of intake hadn’t hit me as much because I hadn’t started eating as much of my muscle mass as others.”

So, was the KFC you and your teammates won at Reward the best that KFC has ever tasted?

“That was the best KFC I have ever had!

“We made absolute pigs of ourselves and we were so physically and violently ill afterwards. We were ravenous and myself, Flick and even Dani, we ate until we couldn’t eat any more, then we spewed and went back for more and then we spewed again!

“It was pretty hectic, we went back to camp and I was so violently ill. I was just laying there and I thought I was going to die. I was really surprised that I woke up feeling as good as I did the next morning for that Immunity Challenge because I thought I was going to be absolutely wasted.

“I have not been back to KFC since.”

What is something that you have now learned to live without since being on ‘Survivor’?

“Social media.

“It’s so addictive and some people get so badly hooked on it. To be out there and to realise that you can have none of it and be even happier for it is an absolute wake up call for people. Also just to realise that you can use it in moderation and be quite happy is a big takeaway.

“I was the happiest I’ve been in a long time without it and was able to make genuine connections with people out there and just sit and talk about everything to do with life. Within a week, I’d had more conversations, deeper conversations with people and individuals, than I’d probably had with some friends that I’ve known for 10 years.”

As a member of the jury, what is your strategy and who do you want to see win?

“Going into jury you’ve got to be open-minded because it’s not always going to be the person that you want to end up in the finals. You’ve got to be able to look at everything objectively.

“Going into that, I was very open to who could end up there — sometimes it might even be someone that you don’t want, you could be picking the least bad option.

“I aligned myself with Emmett, Flick and Kez and all those guys, because they were awesome, genuine people. And because they were people that really tried to make an impact. And I think that’s a massive thing, again, being able to make an impact, whether it’s socially, physically or strategically, you need to make an impact and you still have to stay in good with people on the jury. Because at the end of the day, the jury are the ones that pick the winner.”

Name one castaway who completely changed your mind about them (for good or bad) over the course of your 33 days in the competition.

“One that really changed my opinion was probably Wei.

“Wei changed a lot from what I’d seen on day one, compared to the person that I saw by 33, and had conversations with for the first time when we merged. She’d really grown in the game and was slowly building confidence in being there and being in that environment and all that stuff.

“It was so far out of their comfort zone, such a foreign place to be. So for her to be able to get in there and just keep thinking and move forward was certainly something that she should be really proud of.”

Australian Survivor: Brains Vs. Brawn airs Sundays, Mondays and Tuesdays at 7.30pm on 10 and 10 Play on Demand.

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