'Best Job' winner has romantic plans for Heart Reef

There's a speck of coral in the Whitsundays called Heart Reef that is about to play a pivotal role in the life of Ben Southall.

As its name suggests, it grows in the perfect shape of a heart.

And it's the first place the winner of the Best Job in the World wants to visit when his girlfriend Breanna flies in from Vancouver to join him for his six-month stint promoting the islands of the Great Barrier Reef.

It doesn't take a genius to work out why he wants to take her there - he hopes she'll say I do.

The 34-year-old British charity fundraiser on Wednesday was named the winner of the Tourism Queensland competition, beating 15 other finalists picked from a pool of 34,000 applicants from across the globe.

The Best Job has arguably been the most successful tourism promotion ever launched anywhere in the world.

It's cost about $1 million, but generated about $150 million in global coverage for the islands of the Great Barrier Reef.

Southall will live in a luxury cottage on Hamilton Island, explore the delights of the 1,500 islands and reefs of the region, and share the experience with the world through the internet.

And for that he'll be paid $150,000.

Southall teared up during an interview with Canada TV when the reporter handed him a phone and told him his girlfriend was waiting to talk to him.

"It was pure emotion - I hadn't talked to her properly for six weeks," he said.

"I've had webcam, I've had an hour or so on the phone every other couple of nights, but to speak to her and hear her emotions from the other end was wonderful.

"She knows we'll be together for the next six months at least - and we'll see what happens after that."

Southall said he was amazed when he first saw Heart Reef from the air.

"It's tiny, I mean it's only 30 metres across.

"To fly over in a sea plane and take a photo of it was really good and I might email a photo of it to her and say 'Will you come and join me here?' and see what she says.

"It'll be a pivotal point and a monumental point when I actually take her out there."

Southall and Breanna met in Africa and he is confident winning the Best Job in The World will be the next big stepping stone in their lives.

"We took on last year in Africa so many new and exciting experiences together which really bonded us hopefully for the future," he said.

"This next six months is going to make us grow as individuals and as a couple."

Southall said his job as island caretaker will lead him on an exciting path of discovery.

"I think I need to get under the skin of Queensland and what it's got," he said.

"We've had the opportunity to have a taste of what this is all about, but we've been whipped along at a fast speed.

"I want to get to know Queensland. Africa ignited my passion for getting out and not knowing what's around the next corner."

Southall said he had a lot to prove, having been selected from so many other entrants.

He is already looking beyond Queensland to Australia's other attractions.

"It was always in my battle plan to try to get my Land Rover, which I lived in for a year in Africa, shipped out to Australia at the end of the contract," he said.

"I want to spend however long it takes to circumnavigate the entire continent, and find out the rest of what Australia has to offer.

"There's a lot out there - mum and dad have done it, my sister's been out here, but this is my first little dip into Australia so it's now quite exciting to see what the next year holds."

The competition losers were philosophical, but after nearly three months of putting everything they had into their application the disappointment was evident.

Australia's James Hill said he was taking the positives from the experience.

"It's been a fantastic journey - the last three months has been incredible," he said.

"I'm just extremely happy I was given the opportunity to go all the way through to the end."

James said he may also work with Korean finalist Juweon Kim on a new multimedia project.

Brisbane's Hailey Turner agreed it hadn't been in vain.

"It's been such a rewarding experience - it's taught me so much," she said.

"Before this I really didn't have much direction, but now I love media presenting and I hope that this is a stepping stone to something in that area."

Not even a slip that saw the winner's name posted on the Tourism Queensland website half an hour before the official announcement could take the shine off the day for CEO Anthony Hayes.

Hayes said the finalists didn't know about it and their reaction was genuine and honest.

He said the promotion had been far better than anyone dared hope for - generating about $150 million in global coverage out of an initial investment of just over $1 million.

"The whole idea was to put the islands of the Great Barrier Reef on the map so people knew about it," Hayes said.

"The global interest has been remarkable and in fact the announcement of the winner was carried live by 70 different news organisations around the world.

"I guess that illustrates just how good a story this has become, and how the world has picked it up."

AAP

Comments