Ever wondered what the best job in the world would be? For Ben Southall from Petersfield, it was ‘Caretaker of the Islands of the Great Barrier Reef’ in Australia. He beat 35,000 other hopefuls from around the globe to win the ‘Best Job in the World’ competition in 2009.
What was it like? It was one of the best periods of my life. The sheer number of new experiences, from diving with sharks and skydiving to sailing on mega-yachts, meant that it really was simply the Best Job!
Why did you apply? When the advert came out I’d just got home from driving round the entire continent of Africa. During that time I climbed five mountains and ran five marathons, as well as rode an ostrich, crossed the Sahara and lived with a Masai tribe. This gave me an incredible collection of photos and videos which I shared on my website.
The Best Job required someone to go on an adventure and run a website all about it, so I’d had the perfect year to practise.
What do you do now?
I work as a freelance digital journalist, creating content including videos for websites. I also present a few television programs and am the local university’s business school ambassador. There aren’t many free days in the week!
Do you think you’ll ever want to do something else?
I’m always looking for the next adventure, whether it’s a physical challenge like a marathon or a mental one like beating a world record. Being a hyperactive kid has its uses if you can channel it productively.
Do you need a lot of money to be an adventurer?
Absolutely not. Any investment you make in travelling be it financial, physical or time, helps to make you a ‘richer’ person. Meeting new people, experiencing other cultures and foods, and testing yourself in difficult circumstances makes us better, more understanding people.
What did you study at university and why?
I have always loved cars; working on them, drawing them and driving them, so my natural choice was something in the automotive industry. My degree in automotive systems engineering and car design gave me a good understanding of lots of aspects of everyday life – how things work, how to fix them and how to use your brain productively. I’m pleased I did it, even if I only ever put it into practise to get my 25-year-old Land Rover over 40,000 miles through Africa!
What did you gain from university?
University was a hard grind, but it proved I could apply myself to something, and plan and complete a long-term project. This is what I continue to do today with my expeditions.
Do you have a personal motto?
I have two: ‘It’s better to live one day as a lion, than a lifetime as a lamb’ and ‘The harder I work, the luckier I get’ – and they seem to have paid off so far.
What’s your advice for wannabe adventurers?
We get one chance on planet earth – use it.