A Sneak Peek into the Lives of the “Best Jobs” Winners

It has been just over a month since Tourism Australia’s “Best Jobs in the World” winners were announced on June 21st 2013 in Sydney, Australia. Since the final announcement, many of the “Best Jobs” contestants have either returned to their home country with or without a job or stayed in Australia to explore further.

The “Best Jobs in the World” contest has impacted each finalist in a variety of ways as well as it has opened up thousands of opportunities for their futures. Since I have been so heavily invested in the campaign from the get-go, I found a great interest in checking up on what the “Best Jobs” contestants have been up to following the final announcement.

Over the last month, I have caught up with various contestants and received a behind-the-scenes glimpse into how “Best Jobs” affected them, as well as what their plans are for the future (regardless if they are returning to Australia). Through the various interactions with the contestants post-“Best Jobs,” I managed to obtain a solid understanding of the impact this campaign had on all those involved. I hope you enjoy a sneak peek into the lives of some of the “Best Jobs” contestants…

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Best Jobs Winners – Photograph by Greg Snell (Wildlife Caretaker)

What was the initial reaction from your family, friends, and community after the “Best Jobs” announcement?

In addition to the hundreds of Facebook messages, tweets, emails, phone calls, and text messages – every winner received incredible support from their family and friends back home. Roberto Seba (Lifestyle Photographer) stated “everyone was extremely happy as soon as they heard the news. The day of the announcement my wife was on twitter checking every five seconds for the results. As soon as she found out, she immediately called my parents and I guess the neighbors could hear them screaming.”

Andrew Smith (Chief Funster) expressed that his mom and girlfriend were freaking out. “I called them on the phone at one point and couldn’t really understand what they were saying, but I took it as a good thing. My dad was having a proud father moment and all my friends were stoked and hopefully proud that they helped me get there.” Moreover, I believe that Rich Keam (Taste Master) must have got his humour from his father as he mentioned that “the initial reaction from my family was my Dad winding my Mum up pretending I hadn’t won, when I phoned and woke them in the middle of the night after the announcement.”

Lastly, the most unexpected and shocked reaction came from Cameron Ernst’s (High Flyer) friends, family and community back in Dallas, TX. Cameron said “my close friends and family couldn’t believe that I had landed one of the best jobs in the world (let alone the surprise seventh job). They were especially shocked because I was originally flown out to Sydney by Tourism Australia not really sure what was in store. Some of my friends didn’t even know what was going on because I hadn’t had a chance to tell them I was leaving for Australia. It was quite the news that I would be moving there for six months!”

Has anything changed in your life since the announcement?

Andrew Smith, Rich Keam, Cameron Ernst and Elisa Detrez (Park Ranger) all expressed that nothing has really changed since getting one of the Best Jobs. While speaking to Cameron he stated that “in my time back at home in Dallas before I leave for my job, I’m just getting to relax and take comfort in knowing I have an amazing job waiting for me down under. This is a common feeling that I received from the various winners when I spoke with them over the last couple weeks – The relief that all their hard work paid off in the end and they now have one of the “Best Jobs” in the world.

While being back in Ireland, Allan Dixon (Outback Adventurer) mentioned that he had been receiving very random and interesting messages and calls about his Australia experience. Roberto Seba and Allan Dixon both emphasized the amount of publicity and coverage they have received following the competition. Allan stated that he “did about fifteen radio interviews since winning.” I wouldn’t be surprised if strangers who recognize them from the contest have stopped many of these finalists on the street.

In great assuredness, Greg Snell (Wildlife Caretaker) revealed something different in that his “entire life has changed. I will be packing up ship and moving to Australia hopefully for good. This is the next step for my career within the world of international tourism and the perfect introduction to working in Australia.”

What have you been up to the last couple weeks since the announcement?

Since the announcement event, the various winners have been living very diverse lives. From wrapping up work in their home countries and quitting their previous jobs, they have all been focusing their time on their returns to Australia. Andrew Smith mentioned that since he doesn’t start his contract until December, most of what he has been doing since being home has been to “overcome his homelessness, move his stuff and sell everything that he owns.”

A few of the winners decided to extend their stay in Australia to seek out some additional travel experiences. Greg Snell rented a car in Sydney and drove 1700kms in 6 days to finally arrive in Melbourne. From Melbourne, he flew to Adelaide and met up with the South Australia Tourism Commission to finalize a more concrete schedule for what his role as Wildlife Caretaker will entail. To read more about Greg’s Great Australian Road trip follow this link — http://gregorsnell.com/2013/07/08/the-great-australian-road-trip.  Even though Moska Najib didn’t win her category as Lifestyle Photographer she similarly decided to stay in Australia and explore the country further. “I’ve visited family and friends and just taken time out to figure what I want to do next with my life. After such an experience, it all seems a bit surreal to come back to reality.” Furthermore, Graham Michael Freeman and Aude Mayans (Top 3 Outback Adventurer Finalists) impressed the judges throughout the competition and were invited back to the Northern Territory for a month to cover some of NT’s hottest events. From the Darwin Beer Can Regatta to a helicopter pub-crawl to Alice Spring’s Camel Cup – these two finalists have truly been “living the dream.”

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For many of the winners who returned home immediately, they continued living their everyday lives and working their previous jobs. Roberto Seba stated, “I’ve returned to Sao Paulo. 
Now, I’ve been finishing up some freelance work I had here in Brazil and organizing things for the next 6 months.” Cameron Ernst played a concert in Tulsa, Oklahoma, which is where a lot of his family lives. “It was great seeing them and getting to update them face-to-face with my exciting news. I’ve also been able to spend time with friends and family in Dallas and plan to continue soaking up summer in America before I go spend the summer in Australia.” Since Rich Keam has returned to Brighton he said he has been “changing nappies, playing tennis, watching Wimbledon, done a couple of days work on the Wachowski Brothers new film, eating out, seeing friends and family, enjoying the sunshine, eating ice cream, playing guitar, and generally having a bloody good time and making the most of everything.”

I have thoroughly enjoyed keeping up to date with each contestant’s journey through “Best Jobs” and I find it even more fascinating how this experience has shaped their futures.

What is the coolest/most unique experience you had after the announcement event?

From appearing on National television, to the first sight of their loved ones at the airport, or to finally being able to sit back and relax knowing what the future has in store – each contestant had no trouble finding something unique that stood out from participating in the “Best Jobs” campaign.

Directly following the announcement event, Rich Keam “thoroughly enjoyed appearing live via video link up from the 5-star Intercontinental Hotel Sydney to BBC Breakfast and slightly unnerving the hosts during his interview by waving giant salt and pepper grinders around – that made his friends laugh.” Quite differently, Greg Snell found that his Great Australian Road trip made it to the top of his list following the announcement. “To get out on the open road, roll the window down and let the air rush through. It is a feeling of absolute freedom and possibility, and gets my creative juices flowing. I also drove with a good friend and was able to share old stories and new dreams for the future.”

Andrew Smith defined his coolest and most unique experience since being announced Chief Funster as simply being able to relax knowing that something awesome was in the future. He believed that these experiences are the “byproduct of impromptu decisions and taking huge risks.”

With Elisa Detrez return to Paris, she felt that her welcoming at the CDG airport was just so cool. Elisa states that “my family and a few friends were standing in the arrival gate with some flags from my home region, they were dressed up with koala faces and doing much noise to warm up the airport!” She thought it was so nice that everyone there was excited to welcome her back and it made her feel so good about her entire experience. Roberto Seba also found extreme joy in returning to Brazil with the pleasure to see the look on his wife’s face. He mentioned that “she has quit her job and they are both very excited about the idea of moving to Melbourne together.”

Lastly, after Allan Dixon’s return home, he experienced something unique that related to his hometown roots. “I was going to buy some new guitar strings in my local music shop PowerSound and a lady with a popup t-shirt stand in the alley entrance to the shop stopped me on to congratulate me. I told her what I’ll be doing and was so proud of the fact that I won, and being a local in the town that she gave me a free t-shirt with a print of my home town crest of Arklow on it. To represent my hometown and take some cool pictures in the outback with.”

When do you plan on returning to Australia for your contract?

In chronological order the Best Jobs winners will return to Australia with Allan Dixon and Elisa Detrez taking an early lead and arriving in early August. Following shortly behind will be Graham Michael Freeman (Tasmania Devil Wrangler), Cameron Ernst, and Rich Keam set to arrive in middle/late August. Roberto Seba plans to return on September 2nd to begin his contract in beautiful Melbourne.

Last but definitely not least, Greg Snell and Andrew Smith will be wrapping up the arrival dates with their return in December. The arrival dates all have been arranged in respect to maximizing the quality and quantity of opportunities and experiences that the winners will cover throughout their 6-month contracts.

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In addition to those selected for the 8 “Best Jobs,” various other finalists have expressed interest in returning to Australia and seeing everything that it offers. Julian Button (Top 3 Taste Master) mentioned that he’d “love to see more of Australia, Tasmania, Melbourne, more of Western Australia and go into the Outback. Drink wine in the Margaret River and do everything that I haven’t done and all that I would have loved to do in my job as a Taste Master.”

What are you most excited for when you return to Australia?

Allan Dixon (Outback Adventurer, NT)

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“I can’t wait to experience some freedom again. It’s going to be so much fun, to me this is holiday with the bonus of being paid. I love filming and creating stories. I can’t wait to see all the amazing things and go on adventures with some cool people in the Northern Territory. Also I’m probably going to melt and get sun burnt in Australia. I’m not used to sun at all. I’ve got very pale skin.”

Andrew Smith (Chief Funster, NSW)

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“To finally discover NSW properly. We got to go there for the finals, but we were very busy and also in the middle of a tough competition. To go back and explore, open my eyes a bit and create content exclusively for people to consume rather than for judges seems awesome.”

Cameron Ernst (High Flyer, Virgin Australia)

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“I just can’t wait to come back and get started! There is so much that I have to look forward to from the platinum status to working with the amazing company and brand that is Virgin Australia, to traveling the entire country and experiencing the best service and hospitality. It will be fun to reconnect with each of the winners in their respective states as well. I’m so thankful that I’ll get a little bit of everything in my job!”

Elisa Detrez (Park Ranger, QLD)

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“Everything! Visiting beautiful places, meeting new people, living a great experience, and I hope to catch up with the other winners along the way. Would be nice to share our experiences and feelings on Best Jobs adventure.”

Greg Snell (Wildlife Caretaker, SA)

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“I am most excited about starting the day to day duties and responsibilities. The overview so far has been incredible and the 6 months is looking like a completely epic adventure of a lifetime. From diving and snorkeling with Sea Lions, to conservation volunteer projects, to scientific knowledge and research projects on some incredibly unique wildlife. This is truly just the beginning of something so much bigger. The time is now.”

Rich Keam (Taste Master, WA)

Best Jobs in the World winners

“I’m most excited about a new adventure. Going to explore somewhere that I’ve never been before, also because I’ll have my family there to share in it as well. I’m looking forward to experiencing the humbling vastness of Western Australia, to get a different outlook on life, to have a change of perception, to meet lots of new people, immerse myself in a different country and culture, and most importantly, to eat and drink loads and loads of really tasty grub!”

Roberto Seba (Lifestyle Photographer, VIC)

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“I really loved Melbourne. It’s such a cool city! There’s always some festival going on down there. I think it’s going to be a blast living there and experiencing the city on an everyday basis. I just want to walk around with my camera, meet new people, eat great food and discover the city. 
Also, I can’t wait to see the rest of Victoria state! Mornington Peninsula, Phillip Island, Yarra Valley, Great Ocean Road… There’s so much to see!”

It was such an uplifting and inspirational experience to catch up with the contestants following the “Best Jobs” finals week.  It is very evident that this experience has been nothing but amazing and life changing for everyone involved. The “Best Jobs in the World” campaign by Tourism Australia brought together an exceptionally talented and diverse group of people from around the world for one common dream: to get the job of a lifetime. Though not everyone was able to make their dream a reality, everyone had a chance to push their boundaries, discover the beauty of Australia, and make a handful of lifelong friendships along the way. Even a month after the “Best Jobs” contest, I still find myself thinking about it regularly and having it bring a huge smile to my face. It is truly incredible the impact that this campaign had on not only Australian tourism, but youth travellers and adventurers around the world.

Best Jobs in the World winners

To all the youths out there contemplating taking that leap of faith to pack your bags, Greg Snell (Canada) leaves you with a bit of inspiration… “we have so much talent and potential, the world sees it and is asking you to expel your desires upon things that truly matter. This is but one chance, this is a portion of our story, and this is your life. Live it.”

Thank you Australia and “Best Jobs in the World” – Back to Canada

Goodbye Australia – June 26th 2013

I can’t believe it – 3 weeks, 17 flights, 4 Australian states and thousands of memories and pictures; I’ve touched down back in Canada. With the accumulation of layover times, and flight times, June 26th 2013 has been the longest day in my entire life with over 30 hours of being in transit. I woke up at 630am (Melbourne time) to head to the airport to catch my 10am flight from MELà SYD. I had 4 flights on the agenda before arriving in Toronto. Melbourne to Sydney (1.5 hours), Sydney to Los Angeles (14 hours), Los Angeles to Detroit (4 hours) and Detroit to Toronto (1 hour).

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When I landed in Toronto I experienced mixed emotions. I was felt waves of excitement for finally touching down in Toronto after the long day of travelling, as well as opposite feelings of immediate disbelief for not still being in Australia. I couldn’t fathom that the 3 weeks that I had been counting down towards, and been dreaming of were already over. I began to reflect on all the experiences, places and people that I had met during those three weeks and instantly began to smile. When you travel, it is extremely difficult to find the time to sit back and recognize how some of the experiences, places and people you meet impact you. It becomes something that you start to take for granted, and something you don’t realize the extent of its “awesomeness” (excuse my poor English) until you are fully removed from the situation – After returning from my first big trip last year (Exchange in Melbourne), I found myself exercising a weekly habit of scrolling through pictures and reflecting on my time.

Australia has a way to put me in a state of “awe” easier than anywhere else in the world. Within the last 3 weeks, I experienced a diverse range of incredible landscapes, world-famous iconic landmarks, unique wildlife encounters and mouth-watering food and drink.

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It was surprising to me that everything I experienced in Australia managed to blow me away. It was extremely easy for me to get over the early morning grumpiness when I arrived at my planned tours for the day. Greeted with a smiling face, morning tea and a day full of exploring ahead of me – there was no reason not to smile. Everyday presented itself with a new learning experience, a chance for exploration as well as many photo opportunities. There were so many photo ops that I managed to snap over 1500 photos in the 3 weeks!!

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This trip to Australia was extremely different than the first time I was in Australia. To be more specific, I found a huge difference in the amount of communication I made to people back in Canada. Last year while I was in Australia, I tried my best to keep in contact with my friends, family and followers as much as I could – constantly checking to see what they were doing, what I was missing back at Western University and how everyone was doing. It was extremely exhausting and took away from a lot of the experiences I was having. I had FOMO (fear of missing out) all the time, and sometimes it was so bad that I wanted to just go home. However this year was completely different – I hardly had the time or interest in being fully connected to back home. I found that I easily immersed myself in the Australia lifestyles and took in everything and anything that was presented to me. I was more confident in my ability to be alone, speak to strangers and make friends on my tours. It was such a nice feeling and really showed the amount of growth I had made within the last year. Travelling has been the main reason for this personal growth.

This may come as a shock to many people, but my favourite part of the “Best Jobs in the World” was meeting the 18 finalists. It was surreal to think that all 18 finalists had gone through such a life-changing and rigorous process to get to this stage in the competition. They each managed to beat out 600,000 other people, 40,000+ video submissions, and 196 countries to be in the top 3 of their category.

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There were finalists from all over the world such as places including: USA, Canada, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Germany, France, Scotland, Britain, Afghanistan and many more. They all had such a diverse range of cultural backgrounds, travel histories and special talents, which ensured that the conversations between the group were extremely enlightening. They each had something special to share and bring to the competition. Some had a background in acting while others were singers, perpetual travellers, and fashion artists.

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Though they all had very different backgrounds, they all shared the common goal of wanting to win one of the “Best Jobs in the World” and this goal created a very special bond between them. Not only was this bond shared amongst the finalists, I began to feel it too. I couldn’t believe how invested I became in this campaign over the last few months.

This journey has been one that you can’t quite put into words. It was something you had to be apart of to fully understand how amazing it was. I was put into situations that were extremely overwhelming and unfamiliar at first – for example: being constantly surrounded by media crews, news reporters, and high up businessmen and women. Being put in a situation where I had to be professional was such a learning experience, and it helped me realize that this atmosphere was one I enjoyed. It helped me realize my passion for working in a fast-paced environment, working with various media and news crews, as well as staying committed to daily sharing my experiences with my followers on my social media networks.

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Not a day passed that I wasn’t constantly updating my Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Blog with engaging and unique content that traced my “Best Jobs” journey. Thanks to “Best Jobs,” I think I have found my niche. I can’t think of anything else I would enjoy more than travelling the world while sharing my experiences and stories. I would hope that me continuing to share my adventures they will hopefully inspire people to do the same.

As I sit back in Canada writing this post, I can’t help but think about how life-changing the last 3 weeks really were. I know that the term “life-changing” is thrown around loosely all the time and sometimes it isn’t represented properly. However in this cause, Tourism Australia’s “Best Jobs” Contest has truly been “life-changing” that I am about 90% confident I will be moving back to Australia in the next couple months. This huge move was never on the agenda before this trip, and other commitments will be taking the back burner at this point in my life. The choice to move to Australia and pursue my passion and future career interests in marketing, social media and content producing is something that I’ve recently grown to love. As a recent University graduate, getting my working holiday visa to enhance and add to my personal portfolio is the best decision I could make right now. The world is at my fingertips and I think you need to take advantage of opportunities like this while you are young. In addition, it is extremely difficult for anyone with just a degree from University to find a job. With what I have realized through my time away, I really encourage any recent University graduate to look into gaining additional experience in their field of interest, either through an internship or working while abroad. The opportunity to gain that additional “edge” will help set one apart from somebody else vying for the same position/job.

It’s been a crazy ride the last couple months and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’ve been living a life of spontaneity, constant motion, and constant change – what could be better? I am ecstatic that I have also been able to share this crazy ride in Australia, and the “Best Jobs” contest with you over the last couple weeks.

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So, what’s next for this wanderer? Is it time to relax for a while and allow myself to get over the jetlag? … NO WAY JOSE – It’s off onto another adventure!

For the next three weeks I will be exercising another travel style which is of interest to me: Being a tour guide with youths. With Westcoast Connection/360 Student Travel I will be going through the USA, and visiting New York City, Boston, Washington D.C and New Jersey as a Community Service Trip Leader. It’s going to be quite a change of pace from my “Best Jobs” experience, but I look forward to working with students and seeing the impact that travelling has on them directly. It’s going to be a busy three weeks and I hope to keep everyone as updated as I possibly can. Make sure to follow my Twitter: @sam_clarkey, Instagram: @sam_clarkey and Facebook Page: Samantha Clarke – Travel Guru for instant updates on the adventures we get up to.

Thanks for stopping by, and I look forward to continuing to share my stories with you in the future.

Cheers for now,

Sam Clarke

A Quick Stop in Melbourne

 June 24th 2013 – Day #1

After spending 5 months living in Melbourne during my academic exchange, it was never in my wildest dreams that I would be returning within the next year! As an add-on to my “Best Jobs” itinerary, I planned to spend 2 days down in Melbourne visiting a friend. It was the perfect amount of time to get a refresher of the city and spend some quality time with Sara.

I arrived on my Virgin Australia flight from Sydney at 12.30pm and was picked up by Sara at the airport. It has only been a year since we have seen each other, but when you spend so much time together in such a short period of time (5 months), the distance makes it seems like forever! Before heading straight into the city to take full advantage of the time I had, we headed to her house in a small suburb outside of the city. Her family is so welcoming to me, and it is always nice to see them when I am in town.

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We picked up her brother at her house and we headed to the Melbourne CBD (Central Business District) to grab a coffee at our usual meeting spot; the Starbucks outside of Flinders Train Station. Flinders Train Station is the oldest train station in the Southern Hemisphere, and it is truly a building of beauty. The bright yellow/gold colour draws in attention to tourists, and has become a very iconic stop for those who visit Melbourne.

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After grabbing a coffee at Starbucks, we made our way to Melbourne Central (another train stop) and grabbed a bite to eat. Melbourne is extremely easy to navigate as it is in a grid pattern. It has a very different layout than Sydney as everything is generally in one central area (CBD), whereas in Sydney, there are attractions all over the place: Sydney Harbour, Bondi Beach, Manly Beach, etc. Following Melbourne Central, we did a bit of shopping and since it was getting late we headed back to her house. The night was spent hanging out with her family and watching the movie Playing For Keeps. We headed to bed early to ensure a productive and early start the next day!

June 25th 2013 – Day #2

It was my last day in not only Melbourne, but also Australia for this trip! Sara and I headed to the city right away with a quick stop at the Flinders Station Starbucks… of course. People laugh at the fact that we choose Starbucks in Melbourne, because Melbourne is world-renowned to have some of the best coffee. I think it has become more of a tradition than anything else and we don’t really want to break it.

Our afternoon was spent checking out some of Melbourne’s many alleys and laneways. We were on a hunt for street art. When I say “street art” I don’t mean big posters or paintings in frames, or any sort of traditional art – I’m speaking of graffiti art.

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Hidden amongst many of Melbourne’s little alleys and laneways you will find some of the world’s best graffiti. The city realizes that it is a huge tourist attraction and it is actually encouraged for those graffiti artists with a real talent. It was really neat that when we went down one of the laneways a graffiti artist was in action.

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I was blown away by the caliber of art found in these laneways – it was incredible. I definitely recommend that if you are ever in Melbourne for a couple days, make sure you head to the Melbourne Travel Centre on Federation Square and ask for a map of Melbourne’s street art. There were about 9 different locations recognized on this map that have very diverse and unique street art that were all within walking distance from the CBD.

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We spent the rest of the afternoon doing some souvenir shopping and grabbing lunch at Grill’d in the “Degraves” laneway. This laneway must have had at least 20 cafes and restaurants in a row! I was surprised how busy it was on a Tuesday afternoon – It’s really nice seeing people out and enjoying themselves throughout the week and during the “winter” season. 

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Melbourne in the winter isn’t as bad as many people make it out to be. Yes it does get to about zero degrees in the morning, but with a light jacket during the day you are set. I found it to be the perfect exploring weather and definitely beats the Canadian winter!

My visit in Melbourne was definitely short and sweet. It was the perfect amount of time to catch up with Sara, as well as provided a refresher of the city I called home for 5 months last year. With Melbourne being only an hour flight from Sydney, or a 9 hour drive – it is the perfect stopover if you have a few spare days in Sydney and don’t know what to do. I have noticed that many travellers don’t make it down past Sydney when they do the East Coast. It is definitely worth the trip!

Tomorrow I would be leaving to head back to Canada after three unbelievable weeks in Australia. It has flown by… but I guess that is what happens when you are having fun, right?

Here’s to a 30+ hour travel day!

Sam Clarke

The End of One Adventure and the Beginning of Many More

600,000 impressions. 196 countries. Over 40,000 application videos. 7 jobs awarded. The “Best Jobs in the World” Contest has come to an end. After years of brainstorming, planning, implementing and finally executing, the 7 “Best Jobs” winners have landed their $100,000 contracts and will be heading back to Australia between August and December 2013 to start their “dream jobs.”

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The announcement ended in dreams being made for some, and dreams being crushed for others. For those individuals who unfortunately received the bad news; good news was delivered at the Wrap Party that two new amazing job opportunities were available. One position was offered by STA Travel Australia in their social media and content production team. The second position was offered through Tourism Tasmania and is essentially the 9th “Best Job.” In addition to the original 6 “Best Jobs,” the Virgin Australia “High Flyer” and the Social Media Job in the Tourism Australia Sydney office – Tasmania has taken the 9th spot and jumped on the bandwagon. The Tasmania job would be doing similar content production, social media and digital marketing to the other 6 “Best Jobs,” but in Tasmania. Targeting a very different demographic than the other jobs – Tasmania is a very exciting opportunity that one of the finalists will retrieve and call home soon enough. These are two very exciting additions to the “Best Jobs” contest, and many of the disappointed finalists have invested quite a lot of time in researching and applying for these positions over the last couple days post their “Best Jobs” disappointment.

As I mentioned before, the “Best Jobs” contest came to an end on Friday June 21st in the morning, and the winners spent the remainder of the day in various media appearances, interviews or hitting the shops. I accompanied Greg (Wildlife Caretaker), Andrew (Chief Funster) and Allan (Outback Adventurer) on a post winning shopping spree in downtown Sydney.

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Good spirited winners and “losers.”20130621_160841

Allan (the lucky leprechaun) and I with our cupcakes! 

With the Wrap Party happening that evening, everyone wanted to be looking his or her absolute “best.” The remaining finalists were treated to a spa day at the QT hotel, prior to the Wrap Party. The Wrap Party was a perfect way to tie this amazing experience to an end, and good times were had by all.

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Cheers! – Oyster… YUCK!20130621_204611

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Graham (USA) and I

Saturday June 22nd –Day 1 Post “Best Jobs”

The morning following the Wrap Party was spent recovering, enjoying a game of water volleyball on the 31st floor of the hotel and beginning a pub-crawl arranged by your new Chief Funster, Andrew Smith (USA). Due to Andrew’s love for craft beer, he spontaneously created a 4 bar, pub-crawl for the “Best Jobs” crew to complete. I think we were all impressed by his ability to gather a group together in such a short period of time, and really find the “fun. “At 2.00pm we met in the lobby and headed to the first stop on the crawl, Lord Nelson’s in The Rocks. The group chose between a selection of different styles of beer, and we found ourselves a comfortable spot to sit and enjoy.

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Amazing photobomb… 

The next and last stop (because we were having too much fun) was at Hart’s Pub. At Hart’s Pub, a few of us grabbed a “paddle” and enjoyed a sample of 4 different styles of beer for only 10$. It was a perfect way for someone who doesn’t know much/or anything at all about beer to see what he or she prefers.

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It was evident that everyone was having an amazing time, and it was the perfect way to get everyone together after a long couple weeks leading up to the end of “Best Jobs.” I have no doubt that Andrew will be an amazing Chief Funster, and will find and create the “fun” all over New South Wales.

The evening concluded with a few of the finalists and myself heading out to an Italian restaurant near our hotel called Alfredo’s for dinner. It was an early night for many of us as the exhaustion from post “Best Jobs” had really begun to set in.

Sunday June 23rd – Day 2 Post “Best Jobs”

Today was my last day in Sydney before heading to Melbourne for two days. It was really starting to hit me that my “Best Jobs” journey was coming to an end, and how sad it would be to say goodbye to everyone I had met along the way. It is crazy to think about how close you get to some people in such a short period of time – I understand the feeling better when I realize that experiences like this don’t happen very often, and when you are around people who have invested so much of their time, energy and a huge portion of their lives into a common goal, you are inevitably going to have a strong connection. I ensured that today was spent out and about, and with people the entire time. Following another amazing breakfast at the Intercontinental Hotel, myself and a few finalists headed out shopping for the remainder of the morning.

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I had to pick up a few souvenirs and presents, and some of the finalists needed to shop. It was really the only time they had for themselves over the last two weeks!

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Following shopping, the entire “Best Jobs” crew headed out to dinner at Wagamama, a Japanese restaurant for a final dinner before Cameron Ernst (Virgin Australia’s High Flyer) and myself left. CC made little goodbye gifts for everyone. They were dollar coins in a red envelope and they symbolized a fresh start and good luck for the future. It almost brought me to tears when she gave it to me – thank you CC, you will definitely be missed.

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An after party was held in Elisa’s (Park Ranger) room to complete an amazing night. Andrew, Cameron and I trekked to the only bottle shop in Sydney (so it seemed) that was open, and purchased some beer and wine to split amongst the group. We kept partying for all hours of the night – with CC (Taiwan) being the biggest form of entertainment for sure.

Monday June 24th – Day 3 Post “Best Jobs” – Leaving Sydney

This was it! Today I officially exited the “Best Jobs” world, and was heading down to Melbourne for a couple days before flying home to Canada. I woke up bright and early (around 7am) this morning and definitely wasn’t feeling myself. I had a hard time getting out of bed, and didn’t really want to do anything. When I did get myself out of bed, I dreaded packing my bag, and left it to the last possible minute before I left. I headed down to meet the crew at breakfast and could hardly eat. I wasn’t hungry at all, but I forced myself to put something in my stomach. It was nice to have a chance to see everyone one last time at breakfast before I left however it was extremely sad. We all come from different places all over the world from, Canada to the USA, to Afghanistan, Ireland, Taiwan, Scotland, France, Hong Kong and plenty more. It is very unlikely we would ever all be together in the same place ever again.

It was also very difficult saying goodbye to Alison from Tourism Australia. I can’t put into words how appreciative I am for everything she has done for me. She has been like an older sister this entire trip, constantly going above and beyond what I expected of her to make sure I was on track with my itinerary and I knew exactly what time and where I had to be. I was never left hanging anywhere, no matter if I was in Sydney, Cairns or in South Australia. I was looked after better that I thought I would have been and it made for an amazing trip that I will never ever forget. Thank you Alison – I will see you soon!

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The only picture we had together 😦 Unfortunately Alison’s eyes are shut. 

So with my last final goodbyes, I grabbed a taxi and headed to the Sydney Airport for my 11am flight to Melbourne. It was definitely an all around emotional day – a lot of very sad goodbyes, some people I never actually got the chance to say goodbye too (which was even harder) as well as the excitement of seeing Sara in Melbourne. My mood was all over the place, and I think with leaving a place you have grown to love, it is inevitable.

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The last couple days in Sydney were a perfect ending to the entire “Best Jobs” experience. It gave the finalists and myself a chance to kick back and relax and really get to know each other on a personal level, without the stress of the competition on their minds. I couldn’t have imagined a better trip in my life. Thank you Tourism Australia, South Australia Tourism Commission, all the conveners of the experiences I participated in and finally my friends and family for supporting me throughout this entire process – you all ROCK!

Stay tuned for my final days in Melbourne, Australia.

Sam Clarke

What an ENDING! – Best Jobs Finalists are Announced!

The big day has finally arrived! After over 2 weeks of challenges, interviews, media appearances in Sydney and in each of their respective states – the 7 winners of the Best Jobs in the world were being announced TODAY! I woke up this morning in complete awe that today was the day. Everything that all the finalists had been working towards the last couple months was on the line today. I couldn’t even begin to imagine how they were all feeling.

The last couple days in Sydney have been used to recover from the various challenges, interviews and events they all underwent in their respective states, as well as go through many more challenges, interviews and events in Sydney. It was also time to get the group together to see how they work as a team. It was really nice to finally be able to meet some of these people who I have truly idolized, and in a non creepy way stalked the last couple months. Nick Tilley describes it the best as, “a big reunion of people you have never actually met before.” It is absolutely true. These finalists have been watching each other’s Facebook, twitter, instagram and blogs seeing what they were all up to since the start of the contest. It was definitely surreal to have them all together vying for these “Best Jobs.”

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Going back to the announcement which happened today – all spectators and media crew entered the Art Gallery of New South Wales in Sydney earlier than when the finalists arrived. We had the opportunity to view the boards, which displayed pictures and quotes from all the finalists’ time in Sydney and respective states. We loaded into the auditorium and waited amongst the many film crews, photographers and news reporters for the arrival of the finalists. When the finalists arrived I got instant chills. This was it!

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First to be announced was Chief Funster (NSW). The winner was Andrew Smith from the USA! Congrats ANDREW!

Second to be announced was Lifestyle Photographer (VIC). The winner was Roberto Seba from Brazil! Congrats ROBERTO

Third to be announced was Outback Adventurer (NT). The winner was Allan Dixon from Ireland! Congrats ALLAN!

Fourth to be announced was Park Ranger (QLD).  The winner was Elisa Detrez from France! Congrats ELISA!

Fifth to be announced was Taste Master (WA). The winner was Rich Keam from England! Congrats RICH!

Sixth to be announced was Wildlife Caretaker (SA). The winner was Greg Snell from CANADA!!!!!! Congrats GREG!

LAST but definitely not least, was the newly added position of High Flyer (AUS) offered by Virgin Australia. The winner was Cameron Ernst from USA! Congrats Cameron the comeback kid!

The 7 winners are official!

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It has been such a buildup of nerves and excitement from everyone that I think everyone is happy the announcement is complete. I know everyone is looking forward to the Wrap Party tonight to let loose a bit and enjoy our time together.

It’s been an absolute blast the last couple days and it is really starting to sink in that my time in Australia and time with “Best Jobs” is coming to an end… for now. All I have to do is enjoy the rest of my time here and live it up!

Once again, congrats to all the winner and FINALISTS for all the hard work! You should all be so proud of yourselves!

Time to party!

Sam Clarke,