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.
2020 Queensland Australian of the Year, Rachel Downie was the 10th Castaway to be sent home from Australian Survivor: Brains vs Brawn after Emmett sabotaged the Immunity Challenge and sent the Brains tribe to Council yet again.
Rachel’s attempt to get Cara and George onside to blindside Emmett, unfortunately, proved unsuccessful and, after a neck-and-neck battle between Laura, Emmett and Rachel, it was Rachel who was ultimately sent home by a single vote.
“It was really hard to watch back,” Downie told The Latch following her elimination. “I knew that when I was standing on the mat during that challenge that Emmett was deliberately throwing it, but last night is the first time that I saw the behind the scenes chat where he was like, ‘I want to accelerate this process and get rid of these people’.
“Strategically, I understood why he did it, but man, I was spewing! It was tough to watch. I felt like I’d been fighting my way from the bottom for about six or seven days. It was exhausting waking up every day and trying to see how to do it.
“I thought I could appeal to George’s ego, but I just wasn’t able to get him over the line. I reckon if I’d been in for just a few more hours, I would have been able to crack him.”
What did you do to prepare before going on the show?
“When the show was delayed, I took the opportunity to have an operation on my right knee (having all of the cartilage removed). I’ve always been very active. I also did some functional fitness training and weight training but I’m pretty active every day, anyway.
“I also went and did some sessions with a psychologist because I can be a very emotional person and I wanted to do some work around how to recognise my triggers and deal with them if I needed to. It was work that I needed to do — I’ve had some pretty tricky stuff in my life, I came out when I was 36 years with two pretty young kids.
“I was dealing with relationship stuff. I am often a very socially awkward person so it’s about recognising the times that I needed to push through my social awkwardness and make an extra effort. I’m terrible at small talk and that kind of stuff. So it was mostly about trying to recognise relationship triggers because they are, ultimately at the end of the day, relationships are the things that make or break you in Survivor.”
If you could’ve taken an item with you into the competition, what would you have brought?
“I definitely would have taken in my hand pans, or my guitar, because music is something that I use in my life to celebrate the good things and to help my heart at other times where things might have been challenging.
“However, I did massively regret not taking into a sarong. I had a jumper and I was warm enough, but I found myself lying on the ground way too much. And a sarong would have been super helpful.”
How did your strategy evolve during your time in the game?
“I think it DE-volved! Right? I mean, I got voted out! I think I had probably a couple of days where I was massively in my heart and not in my head, hence the works that I tried to do before I went in. So, I think the evolution maybe came a little bit too late.
“But, you know, the ‘game on moles’ thing was a pact that the three of us had with ourselves to leave all the crap behind the just get on with the job. So I think that’s probably the biggest evolution and also realising that you do need to keep your enemies as close as possible.”
If you’d made it to Merge, what would we have been able to see from you?
“Big moves, much bigger gameplay. I really wanted to play it safe until I got to Merge. I got bagged out a bit for not being a challenge star or being a leader, but that was deliberate because those people always get picked off, which is why Simon needs to watch his back tonight.
“You know, I really wanted to play in the background until we got to Merge. And then that would have definitely been, where people saw more of me strategically, for sure, and then sort of making those alliances that would have stood me in good stead for the long term.”
What’s your top tip for the next group of Survivors?
“Make sure that, even if it’s very quietly, you are on your strategy game from the first second you are in the game and remember that the people who might rub you the wrong way the most may well be the people that you need to work with.
“So make sure that you make good relationships and that you find the truth in all of them.”
Australian Survivor: Brains Vs. Brawn airs Sundays, Mondays and Tuesdays at 7.30pm on 10 and 10 Play on Demand.