Everything You Need to Know About Australian Survivor’s Gavin Wanganeen

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A few weeks ago when the first look trailer for Australian Survivor: Brains Vs. Brawn dropped, we became instantly obsessed.

Last night, a new teaser introducing us to AFL legend and Brawn tribe mate Gavin Wanganeen dropped and look, we honestly just need the season to start already.

In our mission to find out literally everything we possibly could about the upcoming series, we’ve learned a lot about Gavin. If you’re not too familiar with the footy icon, we’ve got your back, and have compiled everything you could possibly need to know.

Gavin Wanganeen, 47, is a retired AFL player who played for Essendon from 1991 to 1996, and Port Adelaide from 1997 to 2006. He also won a Brownlow medal in 1993 for being the league’s best and fairest player, the first Aboriginal Australian to do so.

Born in Mount Gambier, South Australia, Wanganeen grew up in Adelaide from the age of five. An Aboriginal Australian of Kokata descent, footy was a big part of his family; his great-grandfather played for the local team, Koonibba Football Club, at the Koonibba mission near Ceduna.

By the time Wanganeen turned 14, he’d joined the Port Adelaide Under 17s side in the SANFL, and when Port Adelaide joined the AFL in 1997, they got Wanganeen to return as captain of the club after five years playing for Essendon.

The first Aboriginal player to play 300 AFL games, he was forced to retire after injuring his right knee during an SANFL game for the Port Adelaide Magpies in 2006.

But Wanganeen’s not all brawn and sport. Since his retirement, he’s been leaning into his creative side and taken up painting.

“When I paint it brings me back to my culture,” Wanganeen explains on his website.

“My mum was part of the stolen generation herself and taken from her parents when a young girl. To learn all about that is really powerful stuff.

“It started about 10 years ago and I really enjoy expressing myself on canvas. It’s my own unique style,” he says.

It was actually during his time as a footy player that he first began exploring art as a way to connect with his culture and heritage.

The King William Road art gallery says that “a discussion with his Aboriginal teammates sparked a competition to produce the best piece of art from their respective regions”, and Wanganeen enjoyed it so much he decided to pursue it further. He also credits his love of art with helping him “move on” from footy after his 16-year career.

When he’s not working on his art or running one of his businesses (he owns three Anytime Fitness gyms), you can find Wanganeen spending time with his wife, Pippa, and his six children. He has four daughters with Pippa, and an older daughter and son with his first wife, Stephanie.

“I’ve made my mark on football, and I’d love to be able to make my mark on Survivor,” says the Brownlow medalist. “I wanna be the first Indigenous person to win Australian Survivor, how cool would that be?

“I think people will definitely underestimate me, because they’re gonna be thinking ‘this dumb ex-footballer’,” he continues, “but when I’m ready to play, the beast comes out, so don’t mess with me”.

He’ll be going up against Brawn tribemates Flick Palmateer, political puppet master George and prison guard Dani.

We can’t wait to watch!

Australian Survivor: Brains Vs. Brawn will premiere on 10 and 10Play soon.

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