In January 2009, Tourism Queensland launched a global search to find a Caretaker of the Islands of the Great Barrier Reef. A six month contract offering a salary of AUD$150,000, rent-free luxury island accommodation and the opportunity to discover and report back to a world-wide audience what the region had to offer.
The search for applicants received extensive media and consumer attention resulting in 34,684 potential candidates applying from over 200 countries. In May 2009 the final 16 were flown to the Islands of the Great Barrier Reef for the final interview and over four days the final 16 undertook a series of activities to showcase some of the experiences on offer on the Great Barrier Reef. Following the rigorous selection process, Ben was appointed as Island Caretaker, commencing his role from 1st July 2009.
From July 2009 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 2300 km long Great Barrier Reef. Ben hosted media and tourism trade familiarisations to the region and made guest appearances at various official tourism events throughout Queensland.
A highlight for Ben was being interviewed via skype by Oprah Winfrey, airing in the US and then in another 140 countries around the world. Ben also presented his own six-part documentary series broadcast internationally by National Geographic Adventure Channel during his adventures as Island Caretaker. The Best Job in the World series aired in more than 315 million homes in 165 countries and 34 languages.
During his six months as Island Caretaker, Ben fielded more than 450 media interviews from around the world and posted more than 60 blogs to the campaign website, equating to over 75,000 words; 2,000 photos, 47 video diaries and more than 1,500 tweets. The campaign attracted over $510 million in global publicity for Queensland with over 8.6 million visitors to Ben’s website.