Reality TV

Where is Australian Survivor filmed?

We do a deep dive.
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Despite the tough challenges and lack of food, the contestants of Australian Survivor have had some pretty spectacular filming locations.

With crystal clear waters and bright white sands, the beachy paradise that was home for many contestants was one idyllic setting for a TV show but where in the world was it?

From 2018 until the Champions of Champions series in 2020, the show was filmed smack bang in the middle of the South Pacific in beautiful Savusavu, on Fiji’s northern island.

Savusavu Bay was once a gigantic volcano, and if you make your way through the town, you’re bound to come across its boiling springs. The island paradise has plenty of luxury resorts too so if you’re wondering where to go for your next holiday, this is a hot contender if you don’t feel like slumming it like the Survivor cast did.

Seasons three and four were shot nearby in the equally beautiful Upolu, Samoa and season two was filmed in Efate in the Shefa Province of Vanuatu, but the first ever season was filmed on home turf in South Australia.

The perfect tropical backdrop!

(Image: Instagram @deanandresaika)

However, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit the world, the Survivor crew had to swap the tropical location for one at home in Australia.

2021’s Brains V Brawn marked the first time in years that the show had been filmed Down Under, in Far North Queensland’s Cloncurry, to be exact, located smack bang in the outback 770 kilometres west of Townsville.

“It’s a harsher environment – the temperatures are just so extreme,” host Jonathan LaPaglia told TV WEEK in July 2021 ahead of the season launch.

“When we first got there, the temperature during the day was close to 40 degrees. An hour out in that just melts your brain – you can’t think anymore, you’re nauseous and it’s really, really tough.”

The following season, Survivor: Blood v Water was filmed nearby in Charters Towers, 134km south-east of Townsville.

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As Head of Business Development at Castaway Productions, who created Survivor, Julia Dick visits every filming location Survivor is filmed for each franchise.

But despite the shelters and debris made by the contestants, she revealed to in 2016 that the production team take before and after photos of the area so that a team of cleaners can restore it to its original beauty.

“We return everything to nature, how it was before we arrived.

“There’s a lot of cleaning when we arrive. A lot of trash washes up on beaches. We actually clean the beaches when we arrive to make it look pristine. We fit in with the local community.”

The natural surroundings are restored to their natural beauty after filming.

(Image: Instagram @survivorau)

The filming location may be beautiful but the contestants certainly don’t receive any luxuries until they’re voted out.

“We had the clothes that we wore and then you could only have five other items. Five other clothing items!” 2018 Champion Steve ‘The Commando’ Willis admitted to NW that year.

“You couldn’t take a pocket knife or a torch or a book or a pillow or any comfort items. You had your clothing items, and a little bag to carry your stuff in, and a water bottle.”

For 55 days, Australian Survivor contestants also live on a small portion of rice and kidney beans a day, plus whatever they can forage near camp. It is by no means a sustainable diet, or a lifestyle condoned by health professionals and because of this, there are some shocking weight loss transformations by the end.

The contestants have the bare minimum during their time on the show.

(Image: Instagram @deanandresaika)

Now, in 2024, Survivor returns to Samoa again for a brand new exhilarating season.

”It was like putting on your favourite pair of shoes,” longtime host Jonathan LaPaglia told TV Week ahead of the season launch about the franchise’s return to the Pacific Island nation.

”It just feels right. The tropics and Survivor go hand in hand.”

Many places in Upolu form the backdrop of this season’s biggest moments. Sheraton Beach Resort Mulifanua, Matareva Beach, and O Le Pupu Pu’e National Park Coastal Walk & Lava Field were used for multiple challenges and rewards. 

Giving a hint as to what to expect in Samoa, villain George (or should we say King George) from 2023 said that playing in the tropics was a nightmare: “I really didn’t like playing in Samoa, I was wet and miserable.”

Fellow contestant and rival hero Hayley Leake said that playing in the outback and playing in Samoa were ”completely different”.

”It rains so much in Samoa, you can go a long time without being dry. It was in many ways a lot harder than the outback especially with all the crabs and creepy crawlies everywhere.”

Jonathan (aka JLP) also recently spoke to Yahoo! Lifestyle about the unpredictable nature of the Samoan weather.

“The weather is the issue, it really is extreme. Blistering hot and humid most days it can rain a lot and become cold at night, which is no fun when you’re camping on a beach with only a banana leaf for protection.

“Over time this becomes very exhausting and, combined with hunger, can greatly impact their judgement when it comes to gameplay,” he shared.

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