Best Job in the World, 10 years on: Where’s Ben now?
It was a marketing campaign unlike anything ever seen before; a simple and alluring advertisement for the Best Job in the World. Destination: Queensland.
The dream job on offer for one lucky candidate was a six-month caregiver position on an island in the Great Barrier Reef and the winner – famously trumping 34,684 candidates from over 200 countries – was announced on 9 May 2009 as then 34-year-old Brit, Ben Southall.
Based on Hamilton Island, his six-month stint was a flurry of travel, media interviews, blogging, Tweeting and filming. The Best Job in the World made Ben into one of the original influencers, before the term was coined.
As part of his remit, Ben travelled by sailing boat, catamaran, ferry, luxury yacht, jet-boat, 4WD, hobie-cat, chopper, seaplane, jet-ski, kayak, train, motorcycle and car – all to explore the wonders of the 2300km long Great Barrier Reef and show them off to the world.
In fact, he was so good at the Best Job in the World, Ben remained as an ambassador for Queensland for three years.
The campaign has inspired hundreds of copycat competitions across the globe since – from Tourism Australia’s Best Jobs in the World to a luxury Maldives resort seeking a bookseller.
But where’s Ben now and what’s he been up to since officially winding up his Best Job in the World?
He kayaked the length of the Great Barrier Reef
During 2011, Ben kayaked 1600kms along the Great Barrier Reef retracing Captain Cook’s ‘Voyage of Discovery’ with the Best Expedition in the World.
He got hitched and became a dad
After meeting at an event in The Whitsundays and taking off together on the Best Expedition in the World, Ben and Sophee were married in 2012 – on Hamilton Island, of course – and welcomed their son, Atlas, in 2017.
Not long after he and Sophee drove across the world
In 2016, Ben and Sophee took off on the Best Life in the World expedition – a 55,000km, 12-month drive through 33 countries from Singapore to London in Ben’s trusty Land Rover, Colonel Mustard.
He now helps startups and hardcore adventurers tick off their own extreme expeditions
Some things don’t change. Ben says he was almost doing exactly the same 10 years ago as he is now – creating crazy adventures and going out there and doing them. But instead of doing them just for himself, he’s created a business out of it.
Under his company Best Life Adventures, Ben curates and plans wilderness digital disconnection adventures for entrepreneurs-in-the-making to go and build their own internal resilience, building the strength of the Queensland startup community. He also runs Everest Base Camp treks and other crazy adventures – riding the highest road in the world, snowshoeing in the Arctic Circle, mountain climbing in the Congo – for corporate and private daredevils.
“It’s given me the confidence to know that what was a selfish journey of travel, just for my own mind, has now become something I can share with other people,” Ben says.
“To go out and create Best Life Adventures just seemed like a natural follow through, because every time I came back from doing something crazy and stupid that someone, at least someone would say to me, ‘I’d love to go and do that. Why can’t I?’. Or, ‘How can I get involved next time?’”
He still calls Queensland home
“Being able to come here and make Queensland my home has been the best outcome of Best Job in the World,” Ben says.
“I love where I live now in Currumbin, because that’s just my little happy place. It’s just great. We’ve got views of the ocean. We’ve got a mountain behind which I go running on, so I wouldn’t want for any more.
“I sat in the back room yesterday and it took me about an hour to start working, because I was just watching the birds and watching the rain sweeping out in the valley. And it was just awesome, and that made me feel this is a really good choice.”
And there are still some Queensland destinations on his bucket list
“I haven’t been to the Cape yet,” Ben reveals. “I haven’t done the tip.
“It’s been on the radar for a long, long time. And I’ve got the car to do it, but I’ve never gone and done it. I might put the Land Rover on the train here in Brisbane, take it up to Cairns on the train, have Atlas on board, and go and do the trip with him this winter.”
“Of all the 60 odd islands that I went to on Best Job, Haggerstone wasn’t on the list, so I’d like to get there too, because I think Roy, that runs the place up there, is a pretty legendary guy.”