Just hours after Abbey Holmes was voted off season four of Australian Survivor, she was extended a lifeline - the AFLW champion was asked to return for another shot at glory, just six weeks after her first stint in Fiji.
And while she was able to make it to the final five last time around, she was only able to Outwit, Outplay and Outlast her rivals for 16 days on All Stars.
In an interview to Now To Love after Jonathan LaPaglia extinguished her torch for the final time, Abbey reveals just how emotional it was to return to the show, why clever editing on-screen became a source of frustration, and the stellar advice her boyfriend gave her before taking on the challenge of competing in Australian Survivor.
How are you feeling after your elimination?
It's obviously disappointing. Going out on day 16 certainly wasn't something I expected, but I was lucky to have the opportunity to play the game once let alone twice but would have like to stay in there a little bit longer.
The tribe swap in tonight's episode and the return of two contenders from Exile Beach was a little bit of a spanner in the works – were you expecting it to happen so early on?
I was expecting tribe swap to happen around day 16 so that wasn't the issue with me. It was more so the Exile twist. So Shonee and Zach went away to Exile and we, as the tribe, expected them to have to battle it out and one of them to come back in. But the next day, they got let straight back into the game and Shonee ended up on my tribe.
Were you kind of nervous when you realised that was happening and Shonee was coming back?
Yeah, definitely. It wasn't just me who was targeting Shonee in the last few Tribal Councils – even though they pinned that all on me. But yeah, obviously when she did go to Exile, I'm part of that and when you land back in a tribe with Shonee and there was no battle and she got let straight back into the game, that's a bit of a downer on my behalf. But Survivor is such a game of luck. And at tribe swap, when you pull out those buffs, it's all luck where you land. I got stitched up and ended up where Locky and his little girls were and the rest is history!
You mentioned that they "pinned" the "voting Shonee out" strategy out on you and you've been quite vocal on social media about not everything being as it seems when it comes to the editing – is it frustrating to watch that back?
It's been very frustrating watching it all unfold. I have so much respect for the editors and the tough stuff they have to do. From day one, they're trying to tell a story from 24 different people's perspectives and days of vision and fit it in a 90-minute episode. It is really frustrating because as you've seen on screen, it isn't necessarily the way that it has unfolded in real life.
So why did you vote for Henry in the episode where it seemed like you were gunning for Shonee?
We had a really good alliance going that no one's seen much about and that alliance was myself, Lydia, Sharn, John, Nick. And Lee, Henry and Shonee were on the outer. Obviously Nick was playing those two sides and he was also in another alliance with Harry and Shonee. So Nick voted with us when we voted Michelle and in return to repay the favour I gave him my vote and voted Henry but you didn't see any of that unfold. And then it was our decision as a collective in our alliance that Shonee would be next. So Nick and Harry, everyone was on board. Harry even voted Shonee at that Tribal Council but they don't show that. It was kind of like a give and take from our relationship. You do something for me and I'll do something for you – that was the way we were kind of working.
For you and a couple of the other people in this season, it was quite a tight turnaround from season four to All Stars – did you feel prepared enough to go back in?
Look, going back six weeks later was the hardest thing I've ever done in my life. To be honest, I wasn't ready to go back. The last conversation that I had was on the Sunday night before entering the game on Monday with my partner. I was just a blubbering mess. I was like "I don't want to do this, why am I here?" And that was the last conversation he had with me before going in and that's really hard on him as well, because that's your last conversation. I think he thought when she lands on the beach on day one, she'll be fine. I wasn't. I'm a strong person, but I found myself all the time just going away on my own and sitting in the water just crying. So I think coming out at day 16 was definitely a blessing in disguise.
Why did you say yes to going back if you felt that way or did you not feel that way until you were actually going back?
I didn't feel that until I got dumped in Fiji again. But to say no to that opportunity, I probably would have regretted it for the rest of my life, so I'm so glad that I did go back. But it's a very funny story, I got asked to go back on the night that I got voted out in season four. I'd been out of the game for half hour before they told me about All Stars.
WATCH: Australian Survivor's David Genat plays The Tribe Has Spoken. Story continues below...
What did your partner think of how you played the game last season and this season as well?
He's very proud of me. He was the one who gave me the most advice going into season four and I'm not the kind of person who can play a character. He said just go in and be yourself and people will like you so I just went and was myself. I didn't have to change who I was or what not to try and fit in and I was really glad with the way I went about that.
You mentioned on the show that you're quite emotional anyway, but did being in that environment heighten your emotions at all?
Everything is expanded out in that situation because you don't have the ability to pick up your phone and call home. You don't have somebody there in terms of your family or your partner to give you a hug. I was very lucky that I had great people around me – with the people I did land in the tribe with. Everything is so much bigger out there when you're hungry and I'm a very emotional person.
Speaking of being hungry – what affect did the beans and rice diet have on your body?
Season four, I lost eight kilos and All Stars I lost five. So five kilos in 16 days is big. You definitely get used to being hungry. The first week it was really heightened because it's a new situation, that adjustment but that's why we all go crazy when there's rewards – you're just craving a burger or craving ice cream or whatever it might be. But there was that 46-day experience and you come back and you eat whatever you can, then I was off again for another 16 days. So my body is hating me at the moment.
Before you went straight into All Stars, your blindside elimination thanks to Luke Toki was one of the biggest shocks of the season. Are you two still on good terms?
Oh yeah! Luke and I are good mates now. Look, you can't get angry or get bitter. It's a game and everyone is playing the game the best way they can possible. I went into that Tribal Council knowing I had the numbers but that advantage Luke found in the jungle stitched me up. It is frustrating because I know that if we had have gotten through that Tribal Council, I would have won.
Would you go on any other reality TV show after this?
I would love to do Dancing With the Stars and the only other one I would do is The Amazing Race, because it's so organic. It's much like Survivor - it's based on what happens out there. It doesn't try and create storylines like you get on MAFS or Bachelorette. I like how raw and how real those kind of shows are.
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