From 60 seconds of freefall skydiving, being chased by a pig, surfing beautiful beaches and attending a festival of 18,000 Elvis impersonators, Chief Funster Andrew Smith has seen and done it all.
The Californian native has spent the last six months proving that New South Wales is the "most fun" place in the world. How did he do this? By travelling across the state, from regional cities to its far reaches, recording and sharing his experiences on social media.
After documenting over 821,000 experiences as part of the Funster Experiment, Smith is hanging up his Chief Funster hat.
“Calling Sydney and New South Wales home has been a dream come true,” he said in a statement.
"I’ve had an incredible time and would encourage anyone with a passion for travel and sense of adventure to come here for work, study and play.
“It’s a place that will positively change your life forever.”
Smith was named Chief Funster and given the task of completing the experiment after being named one of the six Tourism Australia’s Best Job in the World winners. The global competition was launched in March 2013.
The Funster Experiment required Smith to uncover 802,000 “moments of fun”, one for each square kilometre of the state, with real-time tracking of his adventure challenge.
Smith ended up with a tally of over 821,000 “fun moments” that included: taking 2,105 steps to climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge; stomping on 1,500 grapes in the Hunter Valley; doing two hot laps with The Stig at Top Gear Festival Sydney; and seeing 18,000 Elvis impersonators at Parkes Elvis Festival.
Even with such a long list of “fun” experiences, Smith’s favourite moment by far was skydiving in Wollongong. A 60-second experience, he believes was made most memorable by the views of the coastline and national parks above this seaside city.
“New South Wales is huge and truly has it all,” he said in the statement.
“Every day, everywhere I went, I was blown away by the diversity.”
Over the past six months, Smith has attended over 40 events, made 419 Instagram posts, received over 230,000 likes on Facebook, made 994 tweets and posted 13 videos on Youtube.
A video compilation of Smith’s fun moments in New South Wales has been watched by over 113,000 people. The video shows Smith feeding pelicans in The Central Coast, riding a bull and being chased by a pig in Tamworth, taking a dip in The Big Swim in Sydney, and caving in the Blue Mountains.
Tourism Australia has not yet announced if they will continue with the Funster campaign. For Smith, whose role as New South Wale’s Chief Funster concludes on Wednesday, 18 June, more travelling is on the agenda. This time, his travels will include the rest of Australia.
Destination NSW says Smith’s role has helped youth interest to the state with increased the number of visitors to its campaign website.
According to Tourism Research Australia, New South Wales has received the highest number of youth visitors since the International Visitor Survey (IVS) began in 2006. It says there has been a 5 per cent spike to 999,200 for the year ending March 2014, as well as a 5 per cent increase in the number of nights spent in New South Wales by youth travellers during the period.