Brains vs Brawn: meet the stars of Australian Survivor series 6

Flick Palmateer, health coach Emmett Pugh and bodybuilder Kez McGee are from WA, Laura Wells from suburban Sydney and Joe Ucles, originally from the Illawarra.
Flick Palmateer, health coach Emmett Pugh and bodybuilder Kez McGee are from WA, Laura Wells from suburban Sydney and Joe Ucles, originally from the Illawarra.

The sixth Australian season of Survivor will be swapping the ocean breeze and palm trees for the outback of north-west Queensland.

The 24 castaways began their journey in the Aussie outback on Sunday and will continue to share their "unique set of challenges" three times a week.

Other contestants on the show, filmed thanks to COVID-19 restrictions in Cloncurry, Queensland, include a big wave surfer, a Labor Party operative, a prison officer, an MMA fighter and a former AFL player.

Not everyone's from a big city - there's a range of contestants from regional Australia. Meet a few of them here:

LAURA WELLS

"I have a degree in marine biology and in law, and I work as a science communicator," she told the Leader.

"I'm about all things ocean conservation and climate change."

The outback is far from the seaside life she grew up with, but Ms Wells said the chance to tough it out in such a notoriously challenging arena was more than worth it.

"Survivor is the ultimate challenge," she said. "It's a space where you can put strategy, physical ability, mental toughness and emotional strength to the test in the one arena.

"It's so incredible to have been a part of it.

"It was incredibly tough and very challenging. We were completely dirty the whole time - it was impossible to get rid of the dirt.

"For me it was also a challenge because I love being near the ocean and being in the outback is such a different landscape."

Ms Wells said her plan was to play a social game and form friendships, which she felt she achieved.

She said Survivor was definitely all about strategy from "day one" but "getting comfortable with your surroundings is really important".

Ms Wells said one of the first things which needed readjustment was everyone's sense of vanity.

"I also work as a model and have been doing that for 15 years," she said. "So I'm used to having my hair and makeup done all the time. But in the outback there's no mirrors, not even a toothbrush. It's completely surreal but a really fantastic experience."

FLICK PAKMATEER, EMMETT PUGH, KEZ McGEE

Surfer Flick Palmateer, health coach Emmett Pugh and bodybuilder Kez McGee. Photos: supplied.

Surfer Flick Palmateer, health coach Emmett Pugh and bodybuilder Kez McGee. Photos: supplied.

The brawn team has a distinct south-west Western Australia vibe with three of the 12-strong team from that part of the nation.

Professional surfer Flick Palmateer is no stranger to television screens thanks to her current second place ranking in the world for Big Wave Surfing.

The 28-year-old holds the record for the biggest wave surfed by an Australian woman and is also an accomplished artist.

Having travelled the world on tour since the age of 16, Palmateer said she had learned to be sociable and resilient.

Fellow Brawn team member Emmett Pugh said he planned to fly under the radar, until it was "time to release the plant-based Superman".

"My [strength will be] my strong mindset to overcome pain, suffering and any challenge that stands in the way of achieving my goal of becoming sole Survivor."

Busselton bodybuilder Kerryn McGee may be just 25 years old but she said she will be nothing but ruthless in the Aussie outback.

She is confident she would dominate physical challenges, but also planned to be a "smiling assassin".

JOE UCLES

Andrew Ucles is a contestant on the new Survivor. Photo: supplied

Andrew Ucles is a contestant on the new Survivor. Photo: supplied

Andrew Ucles is a contestant on the new Survivor: Brain Vs Brawn which begins airing on July 18. Picture: Supplied

He's a "survival expert" from the Northern Territory but is better known to the poeple of the Illawarra as a Dapto boy - through and through.

The 33-year-old adventurer and operator of Ucles Wild Tours spoke to the Illawarra Mercury and said he was excited about what's in store.

The show promotes Ucles as being an "eccentric, passionate and curious Australian wildlife and survival expert" and has added him to the Brains tribe.

"Andrew hasn't just come face to face with some of the world's most dangerous animals, he's ventured to all corners of the globe to seek them out," states publicity material on Ucles.

Ucles once had a contract signed to star in a nine-episode series of wildlife surveillance missions, barehanded bush captures and smeared-in-guts survivalist experiments - with a 14-person production crew as well.

However, he contracted typhoid which took him four months to recover from and cost him the contract.

In 2019, Ucles got a step closer to fame, with the History Channel airing two episodes of Face the Beast starring himself and Brian Grossenbacher.

Survivor Australia 2021 is on 7:30pm on Network 10 on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday - as well online at 10play.