Sunday, June 28, 2009

'Best job' winner flies from UK!

Ben Southall
Ben Southall begins work on 1 July

A man who won "the best job in the world" is en route from the UK to begin work as the new caretaker of an Australian tropical island.

Ben Southall, 34, a charity fundraiser from Petersfield, Hampshire, beat more than 34,000 applicants to the position.

His new job requires him to live and report from Hamilton Island on Queensland's Great Barrier Reef.

Mr Southall was due to arrive in Brisbane on Saturday to begin his six-month post next month.

He officially begins work on 1 July, according to his father Duncan Southall, based in Ropley.

"He was very enthusiastic on Friday and has taken quite a bit with him," he said.

"We [Mr Southall and his wife Margaret] are going travelling in August for three weeks and hope to spend one of them with Ben."

The rigorous selection process involving snorkelling, barbecues and time at a spa, gave a global profile to Australian tourism, which has gone into decline amid the worldwide recession.

Mr Southall was one of 16 finalists competing for the A$150,000 (£73,500; $110,000) position.

He was named as the successful candidate in a reality TV-style ceremony by Tourism Queensland on 6 May.

Earlier, Mr Southall said: "To go away now as the island caretaker for Tourism Queensland and the Great Barrier Reef is an extreme honour."

As well as the salary, the post of caretaker at Hamilton Island comes with a three-bedroom beach home, a swimming pool and golf cart.

The job description requires Mr Southall "to explore the islands of the Great Barrier Reef, swim, snorkel, make friends with the locals and generally enjoy the tropical Queensland climate and lifestyle".

As a thoroughly modern caretaker, Mr Southall will also be expected to report back to Tourism Queensland and the world via blogs, a photo diary, video updates and interviews.




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