Australian Dream Job

On January 9, 2009 Tourism Queensland began its search to hire the next caretaker for the an island in the Great Barrier Reef. Referred to by Tourism Queensland as "the best job in the world," the position attracted almost 35,000 one minute video applications from thrill seekers around the globe eager become the world's liaison to one
of the most ecologically diverse and
stunning sites recognized by the world
heritage list.

The job itself is a six month engagement offering a salary package of $96,000, and accommodations at Blue Pearl, a modern three bedroom estate located on Hamilton Island.
The winning applicant will be tasked with experiencing all that the great barrier reef islands have to offer and reporting their findings to the rest of the world via a weekly blog, photo journals, videos and other forms of media. Miscellaneous responsibilities include feeding over 1,500 species of indigenous fish, occasionally collecting mail with the Australian Aerial Post Service and lots of packing for day to
day adventures.

The job might sound like a dream, but the selection process wasn't easy. Tourism Queensland was looking for someone that was entertaining, passionate, experienced and comfortable with media and technology. 34,684
applications were turned in, including
11,565 videos from the US. On March 4, TQ announced their short list of applicants, narrowing the field to just 50 caretaker hopefuls. Among the 50 videos posted on the finalist page,, 6 were sent from America, and 2 hail from Southern

Adeline St. Romain is a working actress in Los Angeles, and one of the Californian finalists. Romain recorded her submission from home with a $100 camcorder, and her only help for the shoot came from herself and her alter ego, "Chinny." "I had to be resourceful," said Romain, "I'm not a film maker."

Perhaps not, but her video certainly qualifies her as an entertainer. After watching other people's submissions Romain found them "never ending" and decided she "wanted to do something more interesting than list my qualifications." It was for that purpose that "Chinny", an upside down shot of Romain's mouth with eyes painted on
her chin was born. However goofy the idea may sound, Chinny served as the upbeat and excitable foil to a nervous, stressed out Romain and helped her submission catch the judges' eyes.

Romain was turned on to the idea of applying for the island reef job after watching a friend's submission. "She had this notion like it was a lottery or sweepstakes. I [approached the competition] thinking 'I gotta go out and get this!'" Three months later Romain is still busy keeping the dream alive; she has done interviews for several online communities, Fox, KTTV LA, CBS, KCAL 9, and is currently spending time in her home state of Florida promoting her bid to become the Barrier Reef islands' caretaker.
Another Golden State resident shooting for the best job in the world is California native Mark Ashby.

Ashby is a film industry veteran of more than 20 years who has done off camera work on projects like "Stargate" (1994), "Charlotte's Web" (2006) and
"Likely Suspects" (television series).
Mark hopes that his years of filming
experience and charismatically dignified
demeanor will carry him across the Pacific to exciting new exploits in

The job description doesn't seem to phase Ashby, whose hobbies already include hiking, diving, rock climbing, skiing, surfing and traveling. Ashby says: "as much as I bitch and complain about it, the hardest part [about landing the job] for me would be just being away from home and the people I love." For Ashby that includes his girlfriend of 16
years and the close group of friends
that rallied around him to produce his

"People tell me I missed my calling" says Ashby, who's commanding voice and posture bear some resemblance to Mike Rowe of "Dirty Jobs" fame. Ashby began his entertainment career in front of the camera as an actor, but later changed his focus to working
behind the scenes. Ashby feels that bringing some of the excitement and wonder that the Great Barrier Reef islands have to offer to travel junkies and bloggers around the planet is a perfect opportunity for him to come full circle.

"I feel like I'm 17 again," said Ashby
regarding his selection as one of the top 50 candidates. "If it happens ... I want to attack it with venom. I want to stay honest and bring [the viewers and bloggers] with me so that when they tell their friends about the beauty of the Great Barrier Reef Islands, they know because Mark told them."
50 candidates remain in the running;
by April only 10 finalists will remain, and one wild card candidate chosen by online voting will stand a chance at landing the best job in the world.