SYDNEY (AFP) - Australia on Friday selected a Californian as "Chief Funster" and an Irish Internet entrepreneur as "Outback Adventurer" in its "Best Jobs in the World" competition, a campaign which attracted 330,000 applicants from 196 nations.
"Blimey," gasped Englishman Rich Keam as he was named "Taste Master", a job which will see him spend six months in Western Australia touring the huge state's best restaurants, wineries, breweries and pubs.
"Queensland is just beautiful, I chose well," beamed Frenchwoman Elisa Detrez who will spend her time patrolling the tropical beaches of the Sunshine State as a park ranger, taking rainforest walks and promoting Australia's unique native plants and animals.
"I think Australia is a bit like the new El Dorado," Ms Detrez told AFP.
"Everybody wants to come here because the life is just so cool, and the weather is better, and the (financial) crisis is not here. So we all want to come here."
Other winners were Brazilian Roberto Seba who will be a lifestyle photographer in Melbourne and Canadian Greg Snell who will become a wildlife caretaker in South Australia, while American Cameron Ernst gets to travel the country on Virgin Australia to champion the best customer service experiences.
Australia first announced the jobs in March as a marketing push to build on the success of its 2009 "Best Job in the World" campaign, won by Briton Ben Southall who was paid to become caretaker on a picture-perfect island on the Great Barrier Reef for six months.
In the latest incarnation, the jobs were open to travellers aged between 18 and 30, designed to promote tourism opportunities offered by Australian working holiday visas.
Thousands of Australians also entered, but none were among the finalists who also came from Hong Kong, Scotland, Taiwan, Afghanistan, Belgium and Germany.
Tourism Australia managing director Andrew McEvoy said the campaign was already delivering results, with airlines and travel agencies reporting increased bookings and officials seeing a significant spike in interest in the working holiday programme which last year contributed Aus$2.5 billion (S$2.9 billion) to the economy.
Hopefuls had to upload a 30-second video explaining why they were best for the job, with Irishman Allan Dixon - who will journey through the Outback, be immersed in indigenous culture and get up close with Australian wildlife for his job - using social media to enlist the support of sprinter Usain Bolt, adventurer Bear Grylls, TV host Conan O'Brien and actor Hugh Jackman for his bid.
The finalists spent the past week in Australia as part of their assessment for the positions and Frenchwoman Detrez, 28, who is from Les Molunes, liked what she saw.
"Everything was so, so gorgeous, landing in the middle of the rainforest was a great experience, diving in the Great Barrier Reef was something really special too," she said.
Funster Andrew Smith, 25, admitted his Sydney job title was a little ambiguous but he was looking forward to travelling the state as a social media commentator and getting involved in festivals and events, such as Sydney Harbour's New Year's Eve fireworks.
"In my opinion Chief Funster is somebody who goes and discovers the passion behind what people do," he told AFP.
"Because they always have a story and they always have a reason. If you can find that reason, you're going to be able to discover why they love what they do, and that's the reason something is fun."
He joked that the job came at a perfect time, given he was "unemployed and homeless" after finishing a stint making a travel television show in Dubai, in which he went to 13 different countries.
"My last job was pretty crazy too but I think this is going to be even better," he said.