'It Was Bloody Tough': Lee Carseldine Exits Survivor After Family Tragedy

Lee Carseldine has exited Australian Survivor: All Stars after receiving some devastating news.

The former cricketer was at camp with tribemates Tarzan, Shonee, AK and Jacqui as the rest of Kalo Kalo enjoyed the barbeque feast they’d won at the last reward challenge. 

As the group stood around the campfire eating papaya, the voice of a producer could be heard off-screen, asking Lee to come for a chat in the jungle. 

“Where are we going?” he asked, as he was shown walking towards the crew. 

In the devastating moments that followed, Lee was handed a mobile phone and clutched his head as he received the awful news that his mother Elizabeth was unconscious. 

“My mum had a massive stroke,” Lee confided to Tarzan. “And I don’t think she’s going to make it,” he added in muffled sobs. “It’s real bad, it’s bad”. 

Image: Network 10.

“I’ve got to go home, guys” he said as Tarzan held him in a bearhug. Speaking to 10 daily five months after filming, Lee explained that he's felt a sense of dread throughout the season in knowing the painful episode was just around the corner.

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"It’s like a really bad exam that you know is coming up that you haven’t prepared for," Lee said. "That’s a really bad analogy but you sort of try and enjoy the moment but you know with each week that passes what’s coming up."

Image: Network 10.

Lee explained that his mother passed away shortly after he received the news and before he could make it home to Australia.

"Being on a show like Survivor, you’re actually quite stranded, so it was a good 24-30 hours before I got back home," he said.

"By that stage, I’d found out that mum had passed," he said, adding that he hadn't even made it out of the hotel in Fiji before the sad news was confirmed.

Lee said that although he was aware he wouldn't make it home in time, he knew he had to travel to Australia as quickly as possible to be around family.

"I was just trying my hardest to get back home and production did everything they could to get me back home," he said.

Image: Network 10.

As Lee farewelled Kalo Kalo, he told his tribe family that his motivation for re-entering the game of Australian Survivor was for his mum.

"Mum had been diagnosed with MND (Motor Neuron Disease) six months before I went on the show," Lee told 10 daily, adding that her stroke was unrelated to the MND diagnosis. 

"And Dad had suffered a stroke 14 years earlier," Lee added, saying he wanted to take out the title of sole survivor, and the half a million dollars to make his parents' lives easier. 

"Just to ease the financial stress and pain that they were suffering at the time." 

Image: Network 10.

Lee and his family gathered together to watch the emotional episode that features his exit from the competition, ahead of its broadcast on television.

He told 10 daily that the viewing experience with his mum's sisters and immediate family was "bloody tough".

"It was a very close group of people who watched it. That was one of the toughest… it was actually up there with… it felt like I was smack bang on that island again watching it, so yeah, it was tough," Lee explained.

"And then tough also for mum’s sisters because they had heard what had happened but obviously, seeing it on TV sort of takes you back to the same timeline as well."

Image: Network 10.

Although nothing could truly soften the trauma of finding out that a loved one has passed, and reliving that moment via the small screen, Lee said he's glad it was Tarzan who so warmly and eloquently narrated the tragic moment.

"It was beautiful they put it together with Tarzan," Lee told 10 daily.

"I think Tarzan was like that person on the island that sort of replaced my mum in respect to being up late at night talking about life, about spirituality," he said. 

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"I had quite a unique relationship with him because we didn’t talk much in the day, it was actually late at night when we’d walk out on the beach and talk about life and everything. I just loved our chats. It took me mentally away from the game as well."

Lee told 10 daily ahead of the All Stars premiere that the show would be a "shining light" for his family after a tough year.

"I think the way I played the game and the fun that I had, I just wanted it to be a great experience for the whole family to watch and it was up until tonight," he said. 

Lee posted on Instagram after the heart-wrenching episode aired, describing the images of him dealing with the shock of grief as memories of a time of "absolute despair and devastation".

He went on to thank the show's crew, producers and Survivor fans for their support during the difficult time and praised his KaloKalo tribe for showing him "the most rawest compassion".

"Although my grieving process is in full swing the show must go on and Mum and I will enjoy watching the remaining few weeks of this special show that has given me so much. As the great @jonathanlapaglia says...”Survivors ready?”.

'Australian Survivor: All Stars' airs Monday-Wednesday at 7.30 pm. Only on 10 and WIN Network.