How did a self-styled Australian adventurer who goes by the name of Tim the Yowie Man become a nemesis of the Survivor 2 shoot? For starters, despite CBS’ best efforts to keep the location of Survivor: The Australian Outback a secret, TYM snooped out the site, a cattle station in northern Queensland, even before shooting began and posted the scoop on his website (yowieman. com.au) — a map with detailed directions. The website soon turned into Survivor central, boasting TYM’s daily gossip updates and a lively discussion room, with, he says, around 1.2 million hits in one 3-week period (93 percent of them from the U.S.). Then, he claims, just to make sure everyone took notice, midway through last fall’s shoot he choppered over the camp and mercy-dropped 100 Ghirardelli chocolate bars.
TYM’s exploits certainly have not gone unnoticed by Survivor sites Stateside. (CBS itself issued a perfunctory debunking of ”erroneous material” on the Net.) Some U.S. websites ”have been really ticked off that an Aussie dude has been taking all their traffic,” says Tim the Yowie Man, a 28-year-old former economics student who steadfastly refuses to reveal his name. ”I’ve noticed a lot of websites have been using my stuff.”
The folks from Survivor 2 — which begins airing Jan. 28 — first became aware of TYM when, he says, he trekked some 18 hours along a crocodile-inhabited riverbed to the site. He says he even made it all the way to Tribal Council — before any contestants had arrived. However, according to Survivor exec producer Mark Burnett, ”nobody broke our perimeter.” TYM (whose moniker refers to Australia’s version of Bigfoot) says he also managed to enlist a Survivor informant, who faxed him daily call sheets of the shoot. Among the leaks: ”One challenge [involving boomerangs] took the contestants three days to rehearse before they even filmed it,” says TYM. ”Which only proves how much of this is a setup.” Then there were those e-mails from a certain Richard Hatch. ”I can’t be sure it was the real one, but he told me what a great job I was doing,” says TYM.
TYM aims to establish himself as a kind of Twilight Zone version of Down Under’s Crocodile Hunter. The offbeat adventurer says he’s a cryptozoologist, a specialist in detective work on strange animals and rare phenomena. He claims he’s already been on searches for Sasquatch and the Loch Ness monster.
Tim the Yowie Man also claims to have completed a Blair Witch-style tale in which he hunts down Australia’s Yowie, and he says he has several TV pilots in the works. But with the attention he’s received from his Survivor exploits, he may want to consider a career change: ”People have suggested I become a professional spoiler — crashing TV or film sets that are top secret,” he says. Woody Allen, consider yourself warned.