Hot seat: Ben Southall

Remember the search to find a caretaker for an island off the Great Barrier Reef, aka ‘the best job in the world’? Here’s the Brit who bagged it

Interview, Hot seat, The Knowledge

Of 34,000 applicants, why do you think you landed ‘the best job in the world’?
As the panel said, ‘Queensland is a way of life’. That’s why I fit in. The outdoors, socialising, barbecues, watersports. My interests are synonymous with Queensland and the Great Barrier Reef. I had already had similar experiences, and I was able to give a normal person’s representation of them.

And a great video.
Probably the most amateur of the lot! It was a minute of energy summarising what I’d done that helped me get to the final.

Did you ever get bored during your six months?
We did 62 islands in six months. Moving at that speed, you don’t get a chance to get bored.

What did you miss most?
I missed my friends and family, but Skype was a saving grace.

Are you enjoying fame?
The only time it really affected me was during the final of the contest. And also in China: China was mad. Autographs, flowers and cameras. I usually shy away from it, but if my publicity makes other people want to think outside the box, that’s good.

Could you ever see the best job in the world in Dubai?
In terms of adventures and experiences and things to do, most definitely. Things such as golf courses and ski slopes are impressive things to have in a desert. Whether you could stretch it to six months? You’d have to see, wouldn’t you?

You were stung by a pretty dangerous jellyfish. Are you fully recovered?
At the time it was like a bee sting, but soon afterwards the symptoms kicked in: my jaw didn’t work. But I got treatment and was recovered by morning.

It didn’t make you nervous to get back into the water?
Ninety-eight per cent of the time I was wearing a stinger suit. It was just my luck that, with four days left of my contract, I decided I didn’t need one that day. It was my own fault. All my limbs and fingers still work, and I had the bosses ringing me saying, ‘Great publicity, baby!’.

So what’s the plan now?
For the next year I’ll travel as a tourism ambassador. Towards the middle of next year I’ll embark on a big trip to kayak the length of the Great Barrier Reef for charity. [After that] I’ve got lots of things I want to do. It’s just choosing which first!

Who are you going to do all this travelling with?
I don’t know now. I’ve just been on the phone to my ex-girlfriend [Bre] and she’s going back to Vancouver. We’ve been doing everything together for the past two years [she joined him in Queensland for the full six months]. She wants to come out and join me for bits of it. That might change. But at the moment, she’ll still join me.
Ben Southall was in Dubai for travel event Emirates Holidays World. He’s writing a book about having the best job in the world, due out next May

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