Reality TV

From the beach to the outback: Here’s where Australian Survivor is filmed

These stunning locations are far from paradise...
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Over the years, Australian Survivor has been filmed in several stunning locations ranging from the tropical paradises of Fiji and Samoa to the regional country towns of Cloncurry and Charters Towers in regional Queensland.

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The earliest iteration of Australian Survivor was released in 2001 and was filmed at Whaler’s Way, in the Eyre Penisula of South Australia. 

Five years later, Australian Survivor returned for a second season that featured a “celebrity” cast and was set against the tropical paradise of Efate in the Shefa Province of Vanuatu.

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Fast forward to 2016 and Channel 10 rebooted the Aussie iteration of the hit reality television franchise, filming a third (and then fourth season) on Opulu Island in Samoa. 

For seasons five (Champions vs Contenders) and six (All Stars), filming moved to Suvasavu, Fiji. 

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Suvasavu, Fiji. (Credit: Channel 10)

But production was left scrambling as they started planning for season seven amidst the COVID-19 pandemic that closed off Australian borders, and limited access to international travel. 

Instead of filming overseas, central Queensland became an unlikely filming location for the following two seasons of the cult favourite reality show. 

Swapping the sea breeze, cold sand, and palm trees for the vast outback of northwest Queensland, the castaways of Australian Survivor season seven (Brains vs Brawn) battled it out Cloncurry, a rural community located 1,700 km north-west of Brisbane. 

“It’s a harsher environment – the temperatures are just so extreme,” returning host Jonathan LaPaglia told our sister publication 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 tough.”

For season eight (Blood vs Water), filming remained in country Queensland, but this time in Charters Towers, 134km south-east of Townsville. 

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Cloncurry, Queensland (Credit: Channel Ten)

For seasons ten (Heroes vs Villains) and season eleven (Titans vs Rebels), filming returned once more to Upolu in Samoa, production visiting the likes of Sheraton Beach Resort in Mulifanua, Matareva Beach, and O Le Pupu Pu’e National Park Coastal Walk and Lava Field where multiple challenges took place.

Head of Development at Castaway Productions (which created Survivor), Julia Dick has previously revealed that despite the shelters, challenges, and sets created by both contestants and production crew, before and after photos are captured of filming locations to ensure they are restored to their original status. 

“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,” she shared with news.com.au in 2016.

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While the filming location for 2024 may be beautiful, the contestants certainly aren’t getting any luxuries as they go head-to-head in the harsh sun, sand, and surf of Samoa, and fight for the winning title of sole Survivor.

“We thought the outback was going to be hard, but we soon realised that Samoa is just as hard, if not harder, for a whole different range of reasons,” Executive Producer Tim Ali shared with Mediaweek in 2023.

“The thing about Samoa is that there’s so much moisture in the air, it’s really wet. That really bogs everything down – clothes don’t dry, and it’s hard to make a fire. [It’s just] a whole new range of struggle.”

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Upolu, Samoa (Credit: Channel 10)

Jonathan shared these sentiments in a 2023 interview with our sister publication TV Week: “Each location presents its own challenges. Interestingly many of the players found Samoa more difficult. Although the outback is extremely hot, the temperature is pretty consistent.”

“Samoa, however, can be scorching hot during the day and then bitterly cold with torrential rain all night. Imagine being exposed on a beach with only a palm frond for protection. It’s a bit like trying to sleep standing up in the shower with the lights turned out. Not fun.”

In a separate interview with Yahoo Lifestyle, the host also described filming in Samoa as “very exhausting” for competitors, who after dealing with the blistering heat, rain, wind, and exposure to the elements often experienced impaired judgment when it came to gameplay.

“The weather is the issue, it really is extreme, [it’s] no fun when you’re camping on a beach with only a banana leaf for protection.”

In the same interview, whilst international iterations of the show frequently changed locations, JLP revealed that Australian Survivor wouldn’t be leaving Samoa anytime soon. 

“That might be exciting for the crew but the truth is the game is so strong that it really can be set anywhere,” he said of whether the location would ever be “switched up.”

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