by Seanna Cronin
TARA Pitt returned home to Eumundi yesterday after coming agonisingly close to winning half a million dollars in the Australian Survivor finale on Tuesday.
The 32-year-old was surprisingly upbeat about finishing runner-up in Ten's reality show and walking out empty-handed after 55 days of roughing it in Samoa.
The mother-of-three from Eumundi lost three votes to six to flight attendant Jericho Malabonga, who took out Survivor's $500,000 grand prize.
"I honestly can't say this enough, Jericho deserved it,” she told Noosa News.
"He was the better person at the end and I have to accept it. You have to be excited for that person.
"I knew coming in that second place got nothing.”
In a gruelling final immunity challenge, Tara, Jericho and Peter Conte balanced on wooden pegs on a seaside cliff for hours.
"The weather was horrendous; you felt cold, you were getting battered by the waves and you couldn't take your foot off to give it a stretch,” Tara said.
"I lasted two hours and 55 minutes but, physically and mentally, I just couldn't go on any further.”
Jericho, 25, emerged the winner after enduring more than five hours of pain. He was then able to choose who he wanted to take into the final tribal council decision.
Knowing she was the underdog, Tara is proud of the fact that she convinced two undecided jury members to vote for her.
"I gave it my all right up until the end, and that's what I was hoping for - to be next to someone who deserved it,” she said.
While most of the finale episode was filmed in Samoa several months ago, the final winner's announcement was only filmed in Sydney last week.
"Everyone else got to process and deal with the fact that they're no longer in the game, but we (Jericho and I) had to wait nearly three months,” she said.
"You don't know if you should start looking at a new car or some property. It's a huge amount of money that would have changed my family's life forever. It was crazy hard.”
The silver lining in Tara's Survivor story is that she has been named the 2017/18 ambassador for Mates4Mates.
Last month she opened up about her father's suicide to raise awareness for R U OK? Day.
"I'm super proud have been asked to be an ambassador for a cause so close to my heart,” she said.
Tara hopes she has inspired other mums to pursue their passions and try something outside of their comfort zones.
"Sometimes we do get the feeling that all we're good for is to look after the children and our husband or wife,” she said.
"In the back of my mind, everything I did I made sure I did so the mums at home would be proud. I really wanted my kids to know women can do anything.”
It's now back to normal for Tara, who plans to finish her studies for a Bachelor of Education majoring in drama and history.
"It was straight into school lunches and taking the kids to school when I got back from Samoa. It's just normal life for me now,” she said.
"I want that degree... something under my belt for the future when the kids are ready to leave the nest.”