Page last updated at 08:40 GMT, Friday, 3 April 2009 09:40 UK

Man in 'world's best job' final

Finalist Ben Southall spoke to BBC South Today on Friday

A Hampshire man is the only British person to reach the final for "the best job in the world" - caretaker of the Great Barrier Reef on Hamilton Island.

Ben Southall, 34, from Petersfield is among 16 people shortlisted for the £70,000-a-year post looking after the island in Australia.

He will be flying to Australia for the finals in May.

The competition was set up by tourism managers in Queensland and more than 34,000 people applied.

Mr Southall, who has already travelled the world on fundraising expeditions, told the BBC: "It's a bizarre thing, it's fantastic, it's a great, great opportunity.

"I had a phone call last night from the big chief boss out there in Queensland to say: 'Well done mate, you've got the job'. And he called me 'mate' about four times so I knew it was the real deal."

Tonge Point on Whitsunday Island, Queensland
The view on the way to work is one of the perks of the job

Mr Southall said the finals in May will be a five-day event to include snorkelling, sailing, a sea plane experience, meeting the park rangers and a gala dinner and party on the last night.

"There's going to be a lot of experience of what the island has got to offer, but there are aptitude tests, there are fitness tests, there are lots of different things," he said.

"I don't expect to to fail in any department. I expect to have high average and that's how I think I'm going to get through - hopefully to the final place now."

The final selection process takes place between 2 and 6 May on Hamilton Island and the new island caretaker starts a six-month contract on 1 July.

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