In the ultimate battle to outwit, outplay and outlast, Hayley Leake has been crowned Australian Survivor: Brains VS Brawn 2021‘s Sole Survivor following a gruelling 48 days of competition.

Hayley went up against George Mladenov in the final tribal council of the season, which saw the last standing survivors embroiled in a heated back and forth with the jury as they made their cases as to why they should each win, but it was Hayley’s pitch that ultimately rewarded the pain researcher a whopping $500,000 and the winning title (plus bragging rights!).

Host Jonathan LaPaglia made the announcement after he tallied the votes, with the final reading coming out at seven votes to two, in Hayley’s honour.

The celebratory moment followed one last immunity challenge which saw Hayley, George and second runner-up Flick Palmateer positioned in a chamber of wooden pegs on the floor and ceiling, with the latter lowering at intervals which made it nearly impossible to stay in place while an audience of the final three’s loved ones watched on from the sidelines.

After proving herself to be both mentally and physically fit time and time again, Hayley showed her rivals just how strong she was and won herself her fourth and final immunity necklace after challenge runner-up Flick dropped out of the running after a gruelling five hours and 17 minutes! Hayley then chose George to join her at the final tribal council and sent big waver surfer Flick packing.

The 31-year-old attributed her win to a number of things, namely her studies as a pain researcher which she said helped in tuning out excruciating pain during challenges.

“I do think that studying pain helps. When you’re in a challenge like that, they try to get you to talk about your pain a lot – asking ‘How do you feel? How bad is the pain?’ Often people are saying ‘Oh, it’s so painful! My feet are so sore! I’ve got a thousand needles in my feet!’ That kind of stuff makes the challenge more threatening,” she said in an interview with

“Your brain’s trying to decide, ‘Do I give you pain or not? Do I need to protect you?’ If it’s getting threats coming at it from every angle, it’s going to make pain.”

She also admitted that while her original plan going into the show was to “lay low”, her strategy changed once she was in the pressure cooker environment.

“I went in thinking, if I want to win, I really have to play low-key for a long time and not be a threat – maybe not even make any moves until merge. But, I also went in knowing 23 people lose; the odds of losing are pretty high,” she told the publication. “I’d really regret doing nothing and getting voted out – I think that would be a worse outcome for me.

“I thought, I’ve come here to play, and I want to play.”

Betting agencies had Hayley Leake pegged as the winner of the famous reality show from early on in the series, with both Sportsbet and TAB placing her in the number one spot — her odds sat at 1.18 and 1.50 respectively with Flick in the runner’s up position.

For the first time ever, the latest season of Australian Survivor was filmed down under in Cloncurry, Queensland after the global pandemic hindered plans to film the sixth season overseas.

Despite the home-court advantage for contestants, host Jonathan told New Idea that filming in Australia was “far tougher” than the seasons previously filmed in Fiji.

“Temperature, for one thing, it was over 40 degrees every day, but at the end of the season it kind of switched, and during the night they had to deal with cold temperatures like 6-7 degrees every day,” he said.

Already keen for your next Australian Survivor fix? During the finale Network Ten aired a teaser trailer for the next season of the show which is set to air in February 2022.

While there isn’t any official word on what the theme is for the upcoming season, the promo did flaunt the colours red and blue, which might just be indicative of a Blood VS Water iteration of the reality show in which family members go up against each other on rivalling tribes.

In episode 100 of So Dramatic! With Megan Pustetto, former Australian Survivor all-star Abbey Holmes also hinted that a family-themed version of the series could be on the cards.

“It’s a good concept because eventually you have brothers and sisters having to turn on each other, or mothers and daughters having to turn on each other,” she told So Dramatic!. “I think we might see that kind of theme pop up in Australia in the not too distant future.”

So in the meantime — grab your torches, head back to your couch and keep your eyes peeled for more info on what could be the most brutal season yet!

Get the tea first! Follow So Dramatic! on Instagram and tune in on Mondays to get your reality tea fix with the So Dramatic! podcast with Megan Pustetto.