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Live from Abu Dhabi Connect the World takes you on a journey across continents, investigating the stories that are changing our world.

Tuesday's Connector of the Day – Ben Southall

January 4th, 2010
02:59 PM ET

Last year, Ben Southall became one of the most envied men on the planet.

In May 2009 he won the Queensland Tourism Board’s “Best job in the world” competition to become caretaker of Hamilton Island in the Great Australian Barrier Reef.

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/01/04/southall.art.jpg caption="Ben Southall: life's a beach"]

The 34-year-old staved off competition from 36,000 rival applicants to land what was billed as a dream job which included $120,000 salary for six months, use of a $4.5 million luxury beachside villa and the chance to work, live and explore the islands that surround one of the world’s most beautiful coastal locations.

It has since emerged that Southall found the job exhausting and far from a relaxing lucky break – he has confessed to working 19-hour days, seven days a week.

A grueling grind of promotional events involved visiting 90 "exotic locations," making 47 video diaries and giving more than 250 media interviews, including a chat with Oprah Winfrey.

During his last week in the job, after a post-Christmas jet-ski session, he was stung by a potentially deadly irukandji jellyfish. Luckily he was treated before symptoms developed into a life threatening condition.

True, he also learnt to sail, play golf and kayak, while he and his girlfriend were living in paradise, but in return he has posted more than 75,000 words in 60 separate blogs, uploaded more than 2000 photos and tweeted more than 730 times. So perhaps his position was well earned?

His employers were certainly happy: Tourism Queensland has offered him a new 18-month, six-figure contract to promote their state worldwide.

Would you swap your life for his?

Ben Southall is our connector of the day on Tuesday. Post your questions for him here and we’ll put a selection to him on the show

soundoff (19 Responses)
  1. Ibrahim Zubairu

    considering what you've experienced in the past six months on the job, would you do it again, and at what price?
    I'm jealous, cause I'm jobless(in Nigeria)!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    January 5, 2010 at 5:25 am | Reply
  2. Cindy

    Ben, now that you've finished your job, where do you want to go for vacation???!!!

    January 5, 2010 at 6:40 am | Reply
  3. ayo123

    nice job, wish there were so many like this

    January 5, 2010 at 7:00 am | Reply
  4. Troy Barrett

    What was the worst part of the "best job in the world"?

    January 5, 2010 at 7:18 am | Reply
  5. Mahalia Janssen

    No job is ideal and most of us are stuck in jobs we wouldn't do but have to to pay the bills and feed our families. Notwithstanding, the trick is to find a job which pros outweigh the cons and in your situation, that seems to be the case, do you agree?

    Mahalia Janssen,
    Maastricht, The Netherlands

    January 5, 2010 at 8:53 am | Reply
  6. Hélder Macamo

    would you give the chance for someone at your choice to get the next 18 month contract, if yes call me...
    I´m ready for everything....

    January 5, 2010 at 9:23 am | Reply
  7. jhoanna muyot

    has "the best job in the world" always been a wild dream you'd always had? what were your expectations prior to the stint and how did it live up to it?

    January 5, 2010 at 10:05 am | Reply
  8. jhoanna muyot

    and what do you see yourself doing five to ten years from now? where do you want to take this – after the "best job" and this new contract you've had?

    Jhoanna Muyot
    Manila, Philippines

    January 5, 2010 at 10:08 am | Reply
  9. Leroy

    How did you beat me?

    January 5, 2010 at 10:56 am | Reply
  10. Rick Moore

    When you finish you can come to northwest oklahoma and live for a spell on a working ranch 30+ miles from nearest town and chill-ya no what i mean!!

    January 5, 2010 at 11:50 am | Reply
  11. Uju

    What was the best part of the job, would you do it all over again if you where given another chance. And good luck with whatever you decide from here.......

    January 5, 2010 at 12:39 pm | Reply
  12. Jo

    So, what's your dream job?

    January 5, 2010 at 1:11 pm | Reply
  13. Kelly


    When did your best job become ordinary for you?

    With this experience, what things or habit did you miss from your normal way of life in your own country?

    January 5, 2010 at 1:26 pm | Reply
  14. Charles

    Would you take a similar job offer as caretaker of the Great Basin desert in Nevada or the Sahara desert in Africa?

    Abuja, Nigeria.

    January 5, 2010 at 2:10 pm | Reply
  15. Emike Ogbomo

    Do you feel fulfilled after the experience and everything that came with it?

    January 5, 2010 at 3:36 pm | Reply
  16. Nikunj

    Ben, would you consider capitalizing on your experience to start your own business in the tourism industry? Why not write blogs, take photos, cover topics, when and where you feel like it? Be your own boss!

    January 5, 2010 at 4:13 pm | Reply
  17. Lawrence

    1. What was the most challenging aspect of the job?
    2. If you would start that job all over again, what would you change?

    January 5, 2010 at 5:02 pm | Reply
  18. Sloane

    What is Hamilton Island like? Are there a lot of other people or is it pretty secluded?

    January 5, 2010 at 5:32 pm | Reply
  19. Keira

    If you had the opportunity to be the caretaker of ANY island in the world (excluding your current location), which one would it be and why??

    January 5, 2010 at 6:16 pm | Reply

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