I am a huge fan of Australian Survivor! I love it, but I also have a lot of questions about it. At least five times an episode I turn to my husband with a question that he, of course, does not have the answer too. Determined to have these questions answered I reached out to my favourite past contestant, Nicola ‘Ziggy’ Zagame.
Ziggy entered Australian Survivor Season 2 in 2017 and was a contender right from the get-go. Being a former Olympian meant that she possessed the physical and mental ability to go all the way to the end. Her gameplay was strong, winning individual immunity twice and spending a gruelling two hours searching through mangroves in the dark to find a super idol. All of these epic wins proved that Ziggy was a huge threat so as the game goes, she was voted out, coming in at 6th place, and earning a coveted spot on the Jury.
TWN: You and Henry were my favourite contestants last year. I thought for sure you were going to win, especially when you got your hands on that super idol. Were you scared while you were in the mangroves looking for it?
Ziggy: I wasn’t really scared in the sense of the water etc., I was scared that I wasn’t going to find anything and that I’d have to go back to camp with nothing, and that would not be believable at all!
TWN: What happens when contestants get their period on the show?
Ziggy: Tampons are allowed, but these are kept at camp and are just as exposed as anything else on the island. Let’s just say that that time of the month wasn’t great.
TWN: Why do the female contestants seem to have no body hair this far into the show?
Ziggy: I had laser hair removal about 7 years ago now, so that’s why I didn’t have hair myself and I know a few of the girls in my season had it too. I think maybe the girls with hair just hide it quite well and it isn’t shown as much on TV as viewers would think. There were certainly some hairy pits out there but I never noticed it watching the episodes myself.
TWN: What was the hardest thing to go without?
Ziggy: The hardest thing I thought was going without a roof. Honestly, it rained a lot and the simple comfort of having somewhere which was guaranteed to stay dry was something I missed. Our clothes, shoes, bags etc., were constantly wet and it was really hard just having no escape from the weather.
TWN: How many outfits are you allowed to take in?
Ziggy: You are allowed to take the clothes you are wearing, plus 5 extra items. So that in total accounts for about 11 items of clothing.
TWN: Are there toilets for the contestants?
Ziggy: There is no ‘toilet’ but there is an area that you go to, to do your business, more like a hole in the ground I would say. But in the middle of the night, it is sooooo dark out there that you’d never find this location so anywhere has to do haha.
TWN: Do you get inductions before challenges so that you don’t hurt yourselves? And was injuring yourself something that you were concerned about, considering that you are an Olympian?
Ziggy: You get the challenge rules explained to you in a bit more depth and some of those rules were set for safety reasons. I was not concerned about being injured at all, I love the rough and tough of challenges and putting your body on the line!
TWN: How long does it take to film Tribal Council?
Ziggy: Soooo long… we have no concept of time as we never see any watches or clocks. It’s especially long if there’s a re-vote or something, then tribal can certainly take over an hour or two, and the rocks we sit on are soooo uncomfortable!
TWN: When you got to the Jury Villa did you get to contact your family and did you get your phone back?
Ziggy: No we didn’t get to contact our family until after the final tribal council and we were only allowed a 3-minute phone call to one person, so I chose my now husband but the call was so quick. We didn’t have our phones, internet, TV, radio or anything which connected us to real life in the Jury Villa at all, as we were still in the game and no outside influences were allowed. We got our phones when we were on the plane flying home!
TWN: How long is it between filming ends on the island and the actual Winner Reveal?
Ziggy: There was about 3.5 months in between… a very long time for the final two to have to wait.
TWN: What was the first meal you had when you got home?
Ziggy: When I landed my boyfriend had a fresh cheeseymite scroll for me which was incredible, and I landed in the morning so then met my parents out for brunch at my favourite cafe… der… haha typical me, I had a coffee, smashed avo, halloumi and bacon. [If you follow Ziggy on Instagram you will know that she is a BIG fan of Brunch]
TWN: Does everyone get really sick after food rewards?
TWN: Did you ever feel anxious around the time of eliminations? Did you take things to heart or were you just in the mindset of, “it’s just a game?”
Ziggy: The game really plays with your head as you are living in that world and can’t escape it. I would get nervous but really excited before tribal council. It was a weird limbo/surreal kind of feeling. I never took anything to heart as we certainly celebrated good gameplay and blindsides, but I was definitely in it to win it, so I was nervous going into tribal as I didn’t want to be blindsided.
TWN: Aside from missing the outside world, what was the hardest thing about being on the show?
Ziggy: I think the physical discomfort was the hardest part. Infected mosquito bites, being cold, wet and hungry constantly was tough
TWN: I saw that there were quite a few contestants at your wedding earlier in the year. Are the friendships the most important thing that you took away from the experience?
Ziggy: Yes definitely! The bonds you form with other contestants are quite special as we have an experience in common that no one else will truly understand. I have made some great lifelong friends, and even those who I may not stay in heaps of contact with I know we will have that bond for life. I also just have great memories from the time on the island… waking up on a beautiful beach as the sun is rising and living off the land was so so incredible. The stars at night time were amazing too. So many awesome memories!
TWN: Who would you like to see win this year?
Ziggy: I would like to see Sharn win this year. She has nearly been eliminated so many times but her communication skills and acting non-threatening is impressive.
TWN: Finally, what have you been doing since the show ended? Have you gone back to fulltime training or has the show taken you down a new path?
Ziggy: I actually retired from competitive water polo after the Rio Olympics in 2016 so when I applied for Survivor I was no longer playing in the National Team. I haven’t really changed my life at all after Survivor. I love my life, so my intention to go on the show wasn’t for fame or to open up doors for anything in particular. I have gone back to work and am doing normal everyday stuff again and love it! I have since gotten married and am enjoying time being at home and being able to spend weekends with friends and family.
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