Ben Southall completes 'The Best Expedition in the World'

Who remembers the application for ‘The Best Job in the World’? No? Well, back in 2009, Tourism Queensland promoted the Great Barrier Reef as a global tourism destination by encouraging people to apply for ‘The Best Job in the World’.

The job was to act as “caretaker of the islands” of the Great Barrier Reef for six months, promoting ecology and global awareness of the Reef.  A couple of of benefits of the job were a very large salary, free lodging in a multi-million dollar villa, and transportation there and around the islands.

Over 34,000 applications were received from over 200 countries (of which I was one – Ed), and whittled down to 16 finalists. The winner was Ben Southall, 34, a charity fundraiser from Hampshire in the UK.

Two years down the line and Ben Southall is still at it.

He has just completed a journey of 1,600km, sailing and kayaking along the Queensland stretch of the Great Barrier Reef.

The journey was titled ‘The Best Expedition in the World’ (don’t some guys have all the luck – Ed) and started from the town of 1770, finishing in Cooktown.

Ben retraced the coastal route taken by Captain James Cook, spending more than 100 days sailing and kayaking on the water, visiting 22 islands and 36 dive sites, refuelling a dozen times on the mainland and posting more than 40 videos online.

Ben said: “In my original application for 'The Best Job in the World' more than two years ago I said I wanted to learn everything I could about the Great Barrier Reef and now I can confidently say I’ve fulfilled that dream.

“Swimming through vast coral canyons, past towering bommies, alongside fish as big as smart cars, with the whale’s song sounding in the background – these experiences are priceless.”

During the voyage, he also spent time with communities hit by Tropical Cyclone Yasi. He said: “I’m pleased to report the Aussie spirit and wit is as strong as ever, the affected towns are well and truly back in business with neighbouring reefs looking healthy, colourful and teeming with new life.

“Many tourism operators have used the time post-Yasi as an opportunity to revitalise their facilities, installing more eco-friendly practices to bounce back better than before.”

Anyone else jealous? If you've got any expeditions planned for your gap year we'd love to hear all about them... or if you'd rather just comment about how you should have won 'The Best Job in the World' then we'd love to hear all about that too...