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.
It’s been an extraordinary adventure for empath, real estate agent and “Duchess of Double Bay” Cara Atchison who was voted out of Australian Survivor: Brains vs Brawn early in the game, only to re-enter as part of the Brawns tribe.
Atchison then successfully navigated the competition, with her trusted ally George by her side, to make it to the final four Castaways in the game. Her Australian Survivor journey came to an end after Flick won the final Immunity Idol, leaving George and Cara no choice but to do the inevitable and place their votes on each other.
“We’d actually discussed it between the four of us about the fact there would come a time when it happened,” Atchinson told The Latch following her exit. “It just ended up happening one move earlier than I would have liked and that came down to our World Champion, Flick, winning that Immunity Challenge.
If that hadn’t happened things would have gone very differently, but she so deserved it — she had a lot of other things going on so I don’t begrudge that. I am just so stoked that I made it to the final four, I’m quite humbled really.”
What was the first thing you did when you got to the Jury Villa?
“When you get back in, it’s literally 1-2am. It’s really late and the people in there really are troopers because they’ve set up a lovely spread. So I just walked straight in and there was so much food, it was quite overwhelming.
“Also, the colours and the lights, because we hadn’t had any unnatural light, electricity or anything like that, it’s really quite jarring and I’m bit sensitive to that anyway. A couple of the guys were watching television and I couldn’t even look at the screen!
“But the first thing I did was, everyone just put food on my plate, and I’m pretty sure I ate it with my hands — my dirty hands, I didn’t even bother washing them!
Aside from winning $500,000, what was something you were hoping to achieve during your time on Survivor and were you able to achieve it?
“I thought I knew what I wanted to achieve by going in… literally, my first goal was to not be the first one to be voted out (sorry, Phil) and then I wanted to make it to Merge and then I wanted to make it to family visits, so I didn’t make it to family visits.
“But the things I really took from it were the things you don’t expect. So, I found a real connection with nature and the Outback out there, it was quite sacred. I was sitting most nights looking at the stars trying to get some sleep and just thinking about my family and how connected I felt with them at that point in time. But then to come back, it’s different now, there’s a different appreciation. I’ve definitely grown and they’ve grown too. So I think it’s things that you don’t expect that I think has the most impact.”
Have you and George been able to hang out since being in the game and what does a “normal” hangout look like for you two now?
“We managed to have a little mini get-together about two days before lockdown — we had a couple of people over to our house and, of course, we just talked Survivor! But their partners came as well and they talked about their journey too because the people who get left behind, it’s also really tough for. It’s actually quite a surprise. It’s almost like a death because you literally have no contact. So there’s a bit of a grieving process that goes also for the people that get left behind, which we never expected.
“George and I speak three or four times a day and we’re waiting for the time because he’s in full lockdown. I also speak with Hayley alot and I spoke with Flick yesterday, but going back to Geroge, our friendship is really good. He always refers to me as his much, much, much older sister.”
If you could’ve taken an item with you into the competition, what would you have brought?
“I was planning on taking a notebook because there was so much involved and just trying to remember everything. I really wanted to make a memoir of it.
“And, of course, strategies were changing day after day, hour after hour so it was really tough to remember everything when I came back to debrief my family after 45 days of these intense things. You kind of forget little bits and pieces and nuances. I love the nuances, so I would have loved to have taken a notebook.”
What’s your top tip for the next group of Survivors?
“Just be yourself because there comes a point in time where you literally have nothing else left in the tank and your true nature comes out. It’s hard to maintain that, but I was really passionate about maintaining that. I think I’m a nice person, and I’m connected with people. But I’m certainly not a doormat. And I stand up for what I really believe in.
“So, if you’re being yourself and enjoying the journey and the process, you can play the game without being mean about it. That’s what I would suggest to people: to separate the personal thing from the game, but also to respect others.”
Australian Survivor: Brains Vs. Brawn airs Sundays, Mondays and Tuesdays at 7.30pm on 10 and 10 Play on Demand.