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Wanted: Caretaker for tropical island paradise

Exploring the Great Barrier Reef and writing a fortnightly blog. Is this the best job in the world?

By Oliver Duff on Hamilton Island

There won't be any office watercooler moments and the successful applicant will have to put up with Aussies complaining about the occasional brisk breeze and winter temperatures dropping to 16C.

The chilly newspaper readers of Britain, Scandinavia and America, however, may think this job advert worth a second glance.

Wanted: one "island caretaker", must be able to swim and willing to move to Hamilton Island in Australia's tropical Whitsundays to begin 1 July. Flexible hours, six-month salary of $150,000 (£75,000), non-negotiable.

Caretaking duties do not, island bosses insist, extend to litter-picking and sieving leaves and other detritus from the pool. Instead, the eventual incumbent will be paid to explore the crannies – both on land and underwater – of the Great Barrier Reef's 600 islands, reporting back through a fortnightly internet diary with photos and video. In addition to landing what Tourism Queensland confidently bills as "the best job in the world", the successful applicant will also pick up the keys to a rent-free A$5m villa perched 80 metres up a ravine, overlooking the narrow azure channel where humpback whales migrate in September. Two guest bedrooms and a spa pool deck with similarly spectacular views will no doubt be handy for entertaining overseas visitors or tourists befriended over cocktails at the marina bar. The distractions include the cacophony of cockatoos outside in the pine trees and the hum of the beer fridge.

A Bond villain-esque golf buggy sits idle in the drive, awaiting the arrival of its new owner, who must also become accustomed to travel by powerboat, jet-ski and yacht. Just around the corner, Whitehaven Beach is regularly voted among the top 10 in the world for its 98 per cent pure silica sand.

As expensive public relations wheezes go, the genius of "the best job in the world" lies in its simplicity: a bag of money to live atop an extraordinary 1,2,00-mile stretch of earth which offers wildlife, watersports and a relaxed, outdoor way of life.

Candidates have until 22 February to apply at, submitting a 60-second (or less) video clip explaining why they should get the job. They must speak English and have "excellent communication skills", a "desire for adventure" and "passion for the outdoors". There is talk of a cut-off point at 30,000 applications – meaning the recruitment consultants will have to watch 500 hours of video clips. Ten shortlisted candidates plus one wildcard, voted for online by the public, will then be invited to a four-day interview, starting on 3 May, on islands dotted along the Great Barrier Reef. They will have to sail, dive, snorkel and generally cuddle up to the local fauna in a series of daunting tasks.

"Everyone knows that the Great Barrier Reef exists but we've found that not many people know about the 600 islands you can visit," the chief executive of Tourism Queensland, Anthony Hayes, said last night as he announced the job vacancy beneath a full moon at Hamilton Island's six-star qualia resort. "So basically, this person will do as much they possibly can and tell the world about it. There are lots of jobs where you might earn a million dollars but life is very short and it's about living."

A lot of tourists visit the reef on day-trips from mainland towns such as Cairns or Airlie Beach, not realising that they could stay on the islands and reach the coral simply by swimming out from their beaches, he said.

Worst jobs in history: Any applicants for...

*Fuller Walking in vats of stale urine for two hours per length of wool to soften it. Ammonia in the urine draws grease (lanolin) from the wool.

*Leech collector Stamping barefoot among reed beds, transfer leeches from your calves to jars. Your prey are sent to doctors to cure alll ills.

*Executioner Severing the head of a felon using a ceremonial axe and a knife. You'll need a strong stomach.

*Plague burier Clearing corpses from houses, taking them to pits and covering them with quicklime.

*Toad eater Swallowing deadly poison toads for a quack who brings you back to life to sell his medications.

Belfast Telegraph


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