The big goal in life is to find what you love and make it your career. Well, ladies and gentleman, meet the man that has done exactly that and more! Ben Southall has discovered his absolute love for adventure and brought his dreams to a reality. First of all, he was the Winner of The Best Job in The World 2009 where he was awarded the job of being Caretaker of the Islands of the Great Barrier Reef – I’ll just let that sink in for a moment.
He has presented his own television series on the National Geographic channel, written a book, set a world record for the fastest ascent of the tallest mountain in each state in Australia (all in 8 days), kayaked Captain Cook’s ‘Voyage of Discovery’ down the east coast of Queensland, climbed five of Africa’s highest mountains as well as running five marathons on his Afritrex expedition…that will do for now.
Part 1 of The Ultimate Career we will chat to Ben about his adventurous life & all the amazing things he has seen and done. Part 2 will be released tomorrow where Ben reveals how he turned his dreams into a reality and what advice he has for others who wish to follow their feet, so stay tuned!
What is your official job title?
From the list above I still don’t know! I haven't used my degree in car design and engineering since I walked out the door of Kingston University in 1997 and since then I’ve been a tour guide, PR manager and event manager in South Africa and the UK.
The last five years in Australia have been an amalgamation of roles brought on by opening doors and opportunity – from television presenter to running my own production company and in the last couple of years I’ve embarked on a number of expeditions to set world records and inspire people to get outdoors and explore this wonderful planet.
As Winner of the Best Job in the World, you were the caretaker of the Islands of The Great Barrier Reef – what was the most amazing part of this job?
There were so many amazing experiences during the six months living on the Great Barrier Reef but the ones that stick in my mind are those that were unplanned and just happened. Being out on a small catamaran off Lindeman Island early one Sunday morning as a pod of Humpback Whales swam by was incredible. The largest of the group surfaced so close to me that it moved the boat!
Visiting the remote islands of the Torres Strait was another memorable experience; the beauty of these tiny islands and the hospitality of the people who live there will stay with me forever.
You’ve been on numerous adventures so far, what has been your most memorable?
I have a complete love of Africa and the rawness the continent delivers. Yes there are numerous problems that may never be solved but the people, the landscapes, the wildlife and the adventures that can be had there far outweigh the negatives.
When I think back to driving across the Sahara with a friend it makes me want to go back time and time again.
You’ve now seen more of Australia than the average Australian, what’s your favourite spot and why?
My perfect escape from the world has to be Lady Elliot Island at the southern tip of the Great Barrier Reef. It’s a tiny coral cay but the owner Peter Gash has turned it into the most wonderful eco-retreat where nature forms the ultimate playground. I could snorkel, dive and photograph there forever!
I believe you are about to embark on your next adventure in New Zealand, can you tell us about that?
At the end of 2014 the Global Adventurers (a team of three friends – Luke, Pat and I) will attempt to set a world record for the fastest ever completion of New Zealand’s Nine Great Walks with our ‘New Zealand 9’ expedition. Totalling over 545km the adventure will traverse some of the toughest multi-day treks – taking only a day to run between 36 and 80km. One of the ‘walks’ is actually a 145km paddle so we’re training hard for a long day on the water too.
2015 looks pretty busy too. My wife, Sophee and I are shipping the same Land Rover I drove around Africa in (and consequently brought to Australia) to Singapore and then driving back to the UK over eight months.
Pretty amazing stuff, right? Stay tuned tomorrow for Part 2 where Ben reveals just how he did it all & how you can do it too...