For anyone interested in travel and nature, it probably is the best job in the world.
It’s a six-month posting to the Great Barrier Reef in Australia – the largest living being on Earth, larger than the United Kingdom in area, and one of the seven natural wonders of the world. Living on beautiful Hamilton Island, your job would involve some light caretaking duties – about 12 hours a month – and the rest of your time would be dedicated to exploring the many islands scattered along the thousands of kilometres (2,600km or 1,600 miles to be precise) of reef and telling the world about it through blogging. For this you would be paid $AUS150,000 (nearly $97,000), on top of a rent-free three-bedroom villa.
It sounds like a hoax but it’s actually just a very clever marketing campaign – it’s given Tourism Queensland media coverage all over the world and masses of word of mouth. You have to do a 60-second video to apply and they’ve received nearly 10,000 applications so far. (I’m one of them – though I’ll refrain from posting the link here).
I hope the campaign does bring more tourists to the Great Barrier Reef. It’s a stunning example of the beauty of our planet and what is at stake as we strive to heal the environment. Talk about “last chance to see” tourism – the Great Barrier Reef itself is officially in deep trouble.
Coral reefs are under threat globally from climate change warming the temperature of the sea and causing bleaching and the increasing CO2 in the ocean raising the acidity of the water. Seventy per cent of the world is covered by water, yet the oceans are not clearly understood at all. The more people experience the beauty of the ocean and the more they care, the more policy makers will take it into account.
Tourism helps fund upkeep of the reef and you can even assist with the conservation efforts. A third of the reef is a marine park where not even recreational fishing is allowed. Tourists do need to be careful not to damage the reef (especially by anchoring and mooring boats, polluting the water, walking on the reef or breaking off bits as souvenirs). However, the biggest threats come from global warming and run-off from cane sugar farmers on the mainland, not tourism.
Of course, it’s important to consider the environmental impact of flying to Queensland but if you are planning to travel long haul anyway, it’s a viable option. It’s a 13-hour flight from Los Angeles to Brisbane – a long way but shorter than, say, Los Angeles to Rome. And if you’re Australian, there’s really no excuse!
Responsible Travel is one of the many travel companies offering sustainable holidays to the Great Barrier Reef. If you can’t go in person, check it out on the newly launched oceans feature of Google Earth (or watch a wildlife documentary).