This article contains spoilers – specifically: who won the inaugural series of Alone Australia, the hit SBS show.
Sadly, I found out who won the inaugural season of Alone Australia via someone’s Instagram post, which, alas, is a sign of the times in which we live. The show, which wrapped after 11 episodes last night, has been a blend of have-to-be-there-at-the-time event television and, via SBS On Demand, a big watch-when-you-want streaming hit, with five episodes now surpassing the one million viewer mark.
The truth is, you probably already know who won it because it’s everywhere this morning, but, just in case, I don’t want to be the ruiner, so look away – like, right away, at the person sitting opposite you on the train, or at your wall, or at another open tab on your desktop, if you don’t want to know.
To the surprise of probably nobody who watched the series, rewilding facilitator Gina Chick has won after surviving 67 days in the remote wilds of Western Tasmania/ lutruwita. Isolated, without modern possessions or creature comforts in the face of awesome (in every sense) nature, hunger and loneliness, the 52-year-old held out against nine other participants to win the series prize of $250,000.
By episode two, by which point Chick was already making a comfy-looking bed out of trees while the other contestants were shivering under badly-positioned tarps, it seemed unlikely – barring accident or injury – that anyone would outlast her. Even in episode one, when Chick revealed she was the only person not to have requested a sleeping bag in her ten permitted survival items, preferring a beloved possum-skin cloak, it was clear this was someone made of different stuff. Add to that the fact she had a clear plan to last 90 days living in harmony with her surrounds rather than trying to bend nature to her will and, well …
‘Coming into this experience, I said the Gina who walked in would not be the Gina that walked out,’ Chick said. ‘I left more windswept, more grateful, more in love than I’ve ever been in my life.
‘For me, it was never about winning the competition. My focus was on solving my needs every day. I’m not an expert survivalist, but what I’ve found is that I can let my instincts and the land teach me what I needed to know. I really wanted to show that there is a way of being at home in the wild. There’s a way of connecting with an ancestral way of being that isn’t about dominating nature, or about having all the bells and whistles and tricks. I want to thank the Palawa for the tens of thousands of years they’ve lived in harmony with this country, leaving footprints for me to follow.’
Ahead of the double-episode finale, only three participants remained – vet and bush regenerator Michael, solo adventurist Mike and Gina.
In the final episode, after 50 days, only Mike and Gina remained, unaware of how many other contestants were still in the competition. The biggest storm of the season wreaked havoc on both camps and for Mike (who, impressively but maybe unnecessarily, burnt a heap of energy early in the series building a kayak from branches), plummeting blood pressure became a major concern (elevating his risk of organ failure) after a medical check on day 64.
‘I feel really disappointed,’ he said after his extraction by the show’s medical team. ‘Winning was very important to me for many reasons. I wanted to bring the money home for our family. But I could not have tried any harder.’
Following a medical check on day 67, Chick’s best friend Lee snuck up on her during a piece-to-camera, revealing that she had won. At 52, Gina was the oldest of the ten contestants, and is one of only three female winners of the show. Alone Australia also now holds the record for the longest run of the international franchise to have only two participants remaining in the show, with Mike and Gina surviving 34 days longer than third-placed Michael.
The joyously expletive-laden moment Chick realised she’d won the competition would bring a tear to a glass eye:
Off the back of the show’s success, SBS has recorded a special one-hour program called Alone Australia: The Reunion. Hosted by Amanda Keller OAM, the cast are reunited for the first time since being dropped in Western Tasmania/ lutruwita to discuss their experiences and reveal never-before-seen footage.
Bloody great job, Gina!
All 11 episodes of Alone Australia and Alone Australia: The Reunion are now streaming exclusively on SBS and SBS On Demand. Alone Australia: The Reunion airs on Thursday 25 May at 7.30pm on SBS.