Page last updated at 11:02 GMT, Friday, 20 February 2009

Dream job draws 'wild applicants'

By Vaudine England
BBC News, Hong Kong


The job description for 'the best job in the world'

The deadline is approaching for applications for "the best job in the world" - caretaker of the Great Barrier Reef, based on Hamilton Island.

Tourism managers in Queensland, Australia, say their limit of 30,000 applications is likely to be reached.

They also say the only countries that have not made contact with the job site are Western Sahara and North Korea.

The wildly successful marketing campaign has drawn wild applicants - but also serious professionals.

The paid job involves living rent-free on idyllic Hamilton Island, and conveying the thrills of reef life and its 600 islands, to a worldwide audience.

We've seen a lot of bikinis in the snow!
Nicole McNaughton, public relations manager for Tourism Queensland
While organisers of the job search knew their island was special, they were unprepared for the number and variety of responses.

Each applicant must submit a one-minute video, but many have taken that remit and stretched it to the limit.

Bikinis in the snow

"Applications have come in from more than 200 countries, which is amazing, from Azerbaijan to Zimbabwe and everything in between," said Nicole McNaughton, public relations manager for Tourism Queensland, which organised the job search.

Hamilton Island
The balcony where you could be having your breakfast every morning
"We've seen a lot of bikinis in the snow!" she said, as well as a surprisingly large number of applicants from Canada, with 1,543 from Britain so far.

Dean Martin's son applied, citing his experience in hosting a show focused on his father's famous songs, as has a winner of the Amazing Race which involves challenging adventures around the world.

Alongside the cute or ridiculous - one man's video has a picture of a kitten allegedly saying "hire him" - is an impressive depth of professionalism.

TV hosts, qualified deep sea divers, bungee jumpers, sky divers, marine scientists, makers of documentaries about fish life in Antarctica - all of these set a high bar for competitors to match.

Men and women have showed off their bodies, wrapped themselves in the Australian flag and filmed themselves hugging kangaroos, leaping around snow-covered fields with a snorkel, or riding a camel.

Media management

Many applicants have taken their quest for the job even further, prompting their own media coverage in their home countries and then sending that coverage in alongside their videos.

Some have set up blogs advertising their applications, dedicated Facebook profiles, and networking sites that discuss the ins and outs of the job with other applicants.

Scuba-diving in the Great Barrier Reef
Scuba-diving and snorkelling are some of the few skills required
"We've lost count of how many have sourced their own media coverage," said Ms McNaughton.

She admits the idea of advertising for a caretaker of the Great Barrier Reef was part of an advertising campaign, but insists the job offer is genuine, with a real salary.

For the organisers, the hard work of selection is already under way.

Initial screening of videos has weeded out the obvious hoaxes - including someone impersonating Osama bin Laden - and the nude or obscene.

Exceptional videos have been sifted from the more than 20,000 applications in before the weekend, by a team of 15 trained recruitment agents.

Applications close on 22 February. Voting on a short list of 50 candidates will take place until 24 March, with a new short list to be announced on 2 April.

Interviews are scheduled for 3 May, before the new Island Caretaker starts a six-month contract on 1 July.

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