Archives For Australia

That’s a WRAP…

September 17, 2013 — Leave a comment

travel, backpack, backpacking, budget, adventure, explore, U, university, world, campus, expert, professor, field, notes, Australia, best, jobs, crew, tourism,

Well, I didn’t end up winning the ‘Best Job in the World’. The position of ‘Wildlife Caretaker’ went to Canadian Greg Snell, and congratulations and well done to him- he will do a fantastic job. Yes, I was disappointed, but still, it was an INCREDIBLE experience, and I was EXTREMELY fortunate to be a part of it all. Not only did I have an amazing time (I mean, come on- a 2-week, all-expenses-paid-and-THEN-some trip to Australia, with awesome adventures and life-long memories to boot?), but I also learned so much throughout the process- along with being an intense job interview, it was an EDUCATION, that is for sure.

I experienced first-hand the absolute craziness and boundless potential of social media, and learned how to use those platforms as 24/7 networking tools. I learned how to be comfortable in front of a camera, how to be the best version of myself with media members, journalists, and during live interviews. I was introduced to innovative and creative ways to market and promote ideas and content- all invaluable skills in this crazy life I live.

The 2 weeks I spent in Australia were SPECTACULAR. Seeing old friends and returning to the spot where I fell in love with Australia to begin with; running around Taronga Zoo and going up against the Sydney Swans at the SCG; standing on the point at Remarkable Rocks, swimming with sea lions at Port Lincoln, and watching the sunset at Seal Bay; a helicopter ride over Kangaroo Island, seeing echidnas and koalas in the wild, and being doubled-over laughing watching CC chase sheep through a paddock; climbing the Harbour Bridge, listening to Cameron, Rich, and Holly play ‘Underneath This Sky’, and having a few pints in the best pub in the world- WOW. Just thinking about it now- I’m still amazed at how much was crammed into those 2 weeks…

But, as always, it’s not necessarily about the experiences you have when you’re traveling as much as it is about those you share the experiences with. I met some really amazing people while I was in Australia- all of the other Finalists, people from Tourism Australia and the SATC, numerous guides, tour operators, and park rangers, even professional athletes- people that are passionate about what they do, and dedicated to being great. It is inspiring to see that kind of dedication and drive in people, and when you’re surrounded by it for 2 weeks straight, it is impossible to ignore. It makes you want to get out there and do something great yourself, which, in the end, is really what life is all about- discovering and pursuing your own personal version of ‘greatness’, however public or private that might be.

If I have any regrets, it’s that I didn’t get to connect with the other Finalists as much as I would’ve liked. Our non-stop itineraries had us busy from sunrise to late in the evenings, with hardly any free time to spare. Add to that the constant pressure to be blogging, tweeting, and posting on social media forums, and any ‘free time’ was instantly re-classified as ‘WORK’. In hindsight, I wish I would’ve spent more time talking to everyone and getting to know them better, and less time focusing on the ‘competition’ aspect of things. The #BestCREW really was an extraordinary group, filled with remarkable talents, interests, personalities, stories, and passions. It’s a shame we had such a short time together, and that the competition ended with 7 individual jobs- it would’ve been interesting to see what we could’ve accomplished as a group. Still, I am very fortunate to have met everyone, despite the briefness, and know that we all will remain bonded by that crazy ‘BestJobs’ experience for the rest of our lives, regardless of where our personal and professional lives take us. That thought makes me smile.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, despite not winning the ‘Best Job in the World’, I came away from the whole experience in Australia with a sense of validation- a confirmation that wherever I’m headed, wherever this endeavor takes me, I’m on the right track. Making it to the Final Round of such a competitive job interview process confirmed that the way I share my interests and passions resonates- it strikes a chord in people. It catches their attention. Above everything else, that is probably the most valuable thing that I learned throughout the ‘Best Jobs’ process- that as long as I continue to pursue my passions and chase my dreams, somehow, I’ll end up with my own version of ‘The Best Job in the World’.

I just can’t wait to find out what that is…

A MASSIVE ‘CHEERS!!!!’ to Tourism Australia, the South Australian Tourism Commission, Nicole, Marc, Greg, CC, and the rest of the #BestCREW- it was an INCREDIBLE adventure!



travel, backpack, backpacking, budget, adventure, explore, U, university, world, campus, expert, professor, field, notes,

To learn how YOU can plan your own EPIC adventure through Australia, click HERE.

FINAL Thoughts…

June 20, 2013 — 4 Comments
Sunrise over Kangaroo Island, South Australia

Sunrise over Kangaroo Island, South Australia

‘Hey Nick- just saw this online- thought you might want to check it out…’

That’s the email I got from my brother-in-law on March 15th, an understated note that turned out to be the spark that set all of the craziness of these past 3 months ablaze.

This journey has been one wild ride the ENTIRE way through- from a fun day with my family making the initial application videos, to the whirlwind media and publicity craze of the Referee Challenge, to the preparation and anticipation of coming to Australia for the final round of this extensive interview, all capped off with an INCREDIBLE 2 weeks DownUnder. It has been amazing, exhilarating, electrifying, and exhausting…

Throughout the process, there have been moments of joy and happiness, times of stress and strain, long hours spent creating content and networking, and countless coffees to push through late nights. It has been a 24/7 social media firestorm, a non-stop sprint for self-promotion, and a daily challenge to bring the absolute best of yourself to the surface, despite the lack of sleep and an absence of energy. Yes, it is a ‘competition’, and yes, there are two others vying for the same job, but in the end, THAT is the challenge- shutting out all the peripherals, ignoring all the distractions, blocking out all the white noise, and bringing the very best of yourself to the table- EVERY.DAY.

Through it all, I have tried to maintain a bit of perspective, remembering that I am very fortunate to have made it this far in this competition, and that the best thing I can do is just be myself, embrace the moment, and enjoy every second of the experience. Those moments are what make the experience worthwhile- what make this crazy life I’ve adopted worth living…

I had one of those moments while standing out on the jetty in the tiny town of Penneshaw, watching the sun rise over Kangaroo Island. It was quiet, peaceful. There weren’t any cameras in my face, no microphones hovering over my head. It was just me, the rising sun, the seagulls, and Australia. It was in that moment that I was reminded-

THIS is why I love Australia. THIS is what drew me to the country to begin with, and THIS is what keeps me coming back for more…

It’s the grandeur; it’s the spectacle; it’s the sheer power and brilliance of nature- that is what draws me to this place. It is something that is uniquely Australian- a rugged beauty; a sense of a wide-open wilderness stretched out for miles under a massively blue sky. In my mind, that IS ‘Australia’.

My time on Kangaroo Island also reminded me how much I love Australia because of its wildlife. There really is something special about seeing a mob of kangaroos bound across the countryside, a sense of awe when spotting a wild koala munching eucalyptus high up in a tree. Sea lions and seals, white sharks and wallabies- Australia is in a league of its own when it comes to wildlife, and 36 hours on Kangaroo Island was more than enough time to remind me of that…

Most importantly, I was reminded that it’s not only the raw, powerful beauty, nor the extremely unique wildlife, but it’s also the people that make this country so special- people like Craig Wickham, Dr. Peggy Rismiller, and Captain Matt from Adventure Bay- people who love their jobs, and love sharing their passion for Australia with others. Somehow, these people have already found their own versions of ‘The Best Job in the World’, right here in Australia. In a way, it makes me envious… Envious, and anxious. Anxious, and hopeful…

Hopeful. That brings me to tomorrow- the final day of this indescribable experience. To be honest, there are no favorites- it all will be determined by what Tourism Australia and the partnering state tourism boards are looking for- and after 3+ months of working, scheming, planning, and pressing, we still don’t know exactly what that is. It will be an interesting day, to say the least…

In the end, I feel I’ve done my best, and that I’ve represented myself well. I have fought off fatigue and exhaustion, have found vast resources of untapped energy, and have brought the very best of myself each and every day. That’s all I really wanted in this competition- to be able to block everything else out, and just be myself. I have done that. Of course, I want to win, and feel that I have a good chance to do so, but again, I don’t know exactly what they are looking for- if it turns out the best of me isn’t ‘it’, I will be okay with that. It won’t be anything personal. It has been a remarkable experience, one that I have learned SO MUCH through, and regardless of the outcome, I STILL cannot WAIT to see what happens next…

Thanks for the awesome ride, Tourism Australia and the South Australian Tourism Commission- it has been an epic adventure…



If you missed my post about how I fell in love with Australia to begin with, check it out HERE.

To learn how you can plan your own EPIC adventure through Australia, click HERE.

Day 9 DownUnder was spent exploring more of the INCREDIBLE Kangaroo Island, South Australia. I was up early for a stunning sunrise over the Backstairs Passage- a nice hour spent just enjoying the peace and quiet of a beautiful morning on KI.


Down at the Penneshaw Jetty to view the sunrise…



Yes, it is EARLY, but I’m still EXCITED!!!








Welcome to Penneshaw!



After breakfast, we met up with Dr. Peggy Rismiller– the world’s foremost expert on short-beaked echidnas- and learned how to track an echidna in the wild. It was really interesting to learn a bit about her life as a wildlife professional, and to get even a tiny glimpse into her passion for the echidnas. She absolutely LOVES them, and her excitement and enthusiasm were contagious…



Sooo, has anyone seen an echidna around here…?


Then we had a bit of a tour around the north shore of Kangaroo Island, including stops at Pennington Beach and Stokes Bay- both BREATHTAKING places.


Pennington Beach, Kangaroo Island- aka- AWESOME









Kangaroo Crossing- they get the right-of-way…





ECHIDNA!!! We found this little beauty crossing the road, and he stuck around and posed for us for a few minutes… Goodonhim!






After all that excitement and photo-taking, we had definitely worked up an appetite, and the TOP BLOKES of Exceptional Kangaroo Island Tours (Craig, Scott, and Ron) set up a delicious lunch for us on a local farm- bush-dining at its finest!



Scott, from EKI Tours, hard at work… Can you tell he loves his job??



Bush-dining at its absolute FINEST! Cheers, EKI!



Stokes Bay, Kangaroo Island



Who’s happy to be in Stokes Bay? This guy! Too bad we couldn’t go for a swim…



After lunch, it was back to the airport to hop on our CHARTERED PLANE back to Adelaide… I’m telling you, Tourism Australia and the South Australia Tourism Commission did it up RIGHT for our itinerary- A MASSIVE ‘CHEERS!!!’ to them!



Flying in style back to Adelaide…



Luckily, the pilot came included with the plane…



Beautiful sunset on the way back to Adelaide…



Back in Adelaide, we had a great dinner out at a local pizza place called ‘Melt’– DELICIOUS! The Dessert Pizza- chocolate, crushed pistachios, and frangelico cream- annnnd, that’s all you really need to know…



Gourmet pizzas at Melt in Adelaide… DE-LISH!



Dessert Pizza- Mmmmmmmmmm…….


Day 9 DownUnder- yet another MASSIVE success! Stay tuned, there’s still MORE to come!


Twitter: @n_tilley

Through Tourism Australia:




To learn how to plan your own EPIC adventure through Australia, click HERE.


Day 8 DownUnder entailed a trip from Adelaide to Kangaroo Island- an island just off the coast of South Australia, covered in national parks and wildlife reserves. I had missed a trip to Kangaroo Island on my first visit to South Australia, and was definitely excited to get the opportunity to see it this time around.

As the photos will show, it didn’t disappoint. Kangaroo Island- a rugged wilderness, sculpted by nature and time, it’s incredible local wildlife unique to that anywhere else in the world.


Kangaroo Island- THIS is why I LOVE Australia…


All aboard!- Hopping on the regional plane from Adelaide to Kangaroo Island



Stunning scenery- our first look at Remarkable Rocks on Kangaroo Island



Somewhere, over the rainbow…



Remarkable Rocks- Kangaroo Island



Amazing erosion at Remarkable Rocks




Remarkable Rocks



Team Wildlife Caretaker, enjoying the day at Remarkable Rocks on Kangaroo Island, South Australia



Media call at Remarkable Rocks



Always the center of attention…




Remarkable Rocks- Kangaroo Island, South Australia



A first-class lunch with Exceptional Kangaroo Island Tours




Ready to take flight over Kangaroo Island




The KI Coast



The Great Southern Oceam- anyone want to got to Antarctica?



Flinders Chase National Park- Kangaroo Island



A storm passing over Kangaroo Island



Flying low over KI



Ummm, yeah- it was pretty good…



Back on the ground after an EPIC helicopter ride



Seal Bay, Kangaroo Island




Sunset over Seal Bay



After a MASSIVE day on Kangaroo Island, we were all ready for dinner at the Penneshaw Hotel



Garlic and goat cheese bread- YUM




I was so hungry, I forgot to take a picture before reducing my plate to rubble…




A great dinner at the Penneshaw Hotel



To learn how to plan your OWN amazing adventure through Australia, click HERE.



“Ready mate? Here they come- let’s get amongst it!”

FINALLY- it was time. I checked my mask, took a deep breath, and stepped off the back of the boat. The plunge took my breath away- not because of the temperature of the water, but because of the clarity. Air bubbles swirled around my face, blocking my vision as I sunk into Seal Cove- a small bay just outside of Port Lincoln on the Eyre Peninsula of South Australia. My heart thumped, the adrenaline rushing through my system; I searched the sandy bottom, scanning the seafloor for the locals we had come so far to see. I had come to Port Lincoln for this moment, and was ready for the experience of a LIFETIME.

And then, there they were- a pod of Australian sea-lions, eagerly swimming out from the beach to meet us. We had seen them lolling on the sand, seemingly oblivious to our arrival, but had been assured that all we had to do was get in the water, and they’d come out to play. That’s EXACTLY what happened. Before I knew it, we were surrounded by these graceful beauties of the sea, twisting and turning here and there, rolling over and flipping upside down. I was shocked by their playful curiosity, with their unbounded boldness- they weren’t afraid of us at all, and seemed to almost be more interested in us than we were in them. Almost…

Port Lincoln is one of a VERY few places where you can swim with Australian sea-lions, and I had been wanting to do exactly that ever since visiting South Australia in 2009. I expected it to be an awesome wildlife encounter, and the reality of actually doing it was more than I could have imagined. It was INCREDIBLE- easily the most interactive wildlife encounter I have ever had- and that’s saying something. The sea lions wanted to PLAY- they wanted to chase us, only to effortlessly flip around and have us chase them. They were keen to show off their aqua-acrobatics, laughing at us clumsy humans looking awkward and ridiculous in our efforts to mimic their grace. They made us look BAD…

South Australia is such a unique place, with wildlife unlike anywhere else in the world, and swimming with the sea-lions of Port Lincoln was a totally ‘Australian’ experience. Nowhere else can you get so up-close and personal with such an amazing animal, and be brought face-to-face with ‘South Australia’ in such an amazing way… I miss them already.



To learn how YOU can plan your own EPIC adventure through Australia, click HERE.

Day 6 DownUnder

June 15, 2013 — 8 Comments


YoyoYO- it has been a LONG day, but here is a VIDEO journal of what Team Wildlife Caretaker got up to on Day 6- our FIRST in SOUTH AUSTRALIA!!!!

It all began with a broken zipper at the hotel (Hence the duct-taped duffel bag…), then- flight from Sydney to Adelaide- transfer to Cleland Wildlife Park- interaction with Olivia the Olive Python (she.was.AWESOME.), media call with the South Australian Press with Olivia draped ALL OVER ME- some QUALITY time hanging out with Hank the koala- flight from Adelaide to Port Lincoln- a great dinner at Sarin’s at the Porl Lincoln Hotel, including MASSIVE Coffin Bay King Oysters… YUM!

What.a.DAY! And stay tuned- there’s more on tap for tomorrow…


Twitter: @n_tilley

Through Tourism Australia:

Here’s the video:




To learn how YOU can plan your own EPIC adventure through Australia, click HERE.



Day 5 DownUnder

June 15, 2013 — Leave a comment

Ok, it’s going to be a LIGHTENING ROUND for Day 5, as there are more stories to tell, and I need to get CAUGHT UP! 🙂

First things first- we visited Taronga Zoo bright and on Thursday morning, got to get up close with koalas and kangaroos, and then had some cool wildlife interactions overlooking Sydney Harbour. Even if you don’t really like zoos, Taronga is still well worth a visit- the exhibits are world-class, the range of wildlife is HUGE, and the views are SPECTACULAR. There’s no doubt about it- these animals have the best views in ALL of Sydney!


Welcome to Taronga Zoo



Mark the Media Director giving us the briefing for the day, cameras rolling (ALWAYS…)



Getting to know the locals…



G’day mate!




Morning, boys- what’s for breaky?






This Diamond Python was checking me out…




Team Wildlife Caretaker at Taronga Zoo




Team UK with Ben Southall- the winner of the first ‘Best Job’ contest




Soaking in the AMAZING scenery at Taronga Zoo




Jambo! I met some of this guy’s buddies when I was in Kenya…



The BestJobs Crew at Taronga Zoo

The BestJobs Crew at Taronga Zoo




After the trip to the zoo, we headed over to the Sydney Cricket Ground for an adrenaline-pumping afternoon of Australian Rules Football training. Citibank Australia is a MASSIVE supporter of the legendary (and current cup-holding 2012 champion) Sydney Swans, and put on an awesome Footy Experience for us at the SCG. We were lucky to have three of the current players put us through drills, share some pointers, and give us a glimpse of what it would be like to play in the AFL. ROUGH, that’s for sure. It was a BRILLIANT day, and we were all excited to do something physically active. We were kicking balls all over the place, flying into tackles, and learning all about this incredible sport unique to Australia. It was AWESOME, and I am definitely feeling it today…

Welcome to the home of the Sydney Swans!



Getting our pre-game speech in the players game room



Let’s GET IT ON!




Hanging with Swans LEGEND Adam Goodes- he’s a 2-time league MVP, and the Swans’ all-time best player… So yeah, he’s a big deal.



Getting some tips from current Team Captain Jarrad McVeigh



The Sydney Cricket Ground



The 2012 AFL Championship Trophy- FREAKING SWEET!



It was an epic day at the SCG, and a once-in-a-lifetime chance to act like a REAL footy player. Cheers to the Sydney Swans and Citibank Australia!


So- that was Day 5. Sorry it was so brief, but I really needed to get caught up! Stay tuned- there are more adventures to follow. Next up- SOUTH AUSTRALIA!


Twitter: @n_tilley

Through Tourism Australia:


To learn how to plan your own EPIC adventure through Australia, click HERE.



Day 4 DownUnder

June 14, 2013 — Leave a comment


WOW- things just keep getting BETTER! Day 4 was INCREDIBLE! To start out, we got kitted out with all of our Best Jobs gear- along with some amazing surprises from Dell, Nikon, and Nokia.


My Best Jobs Gear is finally HERE!


Then it was off to the Sydney Airport for a photo shoot and media call at the Virgin Australia Lounge. Virgin Australia is THE way to fly when heading DownUnder- awesome amenities, cutting-edge hospitality, and world-class service- that’s how they roll… They even surprised us with the SEVENTH ‘Best Job in the WORLD’ position- the role of Virgin Australia’s ‘HIGH FLYER’- a job that will consist of traveling around the land DownUnder on Virgin Australia, highlighting the various tourism opportunities at these locations, and doing it with all the flair, class, and first-rate hospitatlity that Virgin Australia in known for. A-MA-ZING! We were all SHOCKED! Such an awesome opportunity, for sure!


Virgin Australia- THE way to fly when heading DownUnder



The media was MANIC- cameras, microphones, and flash-bulbs EVERYWHERE! Good fun!


Heading up tot eh UBER-posh Virgin Australia Lounge



Who has two thumbs and is excited to be in Australia? THIS GUY!

Team Wildlife Caretaker- Me, CC, Nicole (our ‘wrangler’- HA!), and Greg



This is a testament to how hard we’ve been going in Sydney the past few days- EVEN CC is getting tired… 🙂


After the Virgin Australia media call, it was down to Circular Quay for yet another photo shoot and more interviews… On such a GORGEOUS day in Sydney, BRING.IT.ON!

For those of you that have never been there, Circular Quay and Sydney Harbour are magical places- no matter how many photos you’ve seen, no matter how you’ve envisioned it in your mind, no matter how many times you’ve sat and listened to ME drone on and ON about how incredible it all is- somehow, it STILL takes your breath away, every time, guaranteed. Even for me, having been down to Circular Quay on numerous occasions, it still has that overwhelming effect. The grandeur of the Opera House, the mighty soaring of the Harbour Bridge, the city skyline glinting in the sunlight, the iconic ferries plying the waters of the harbour. It is a special place- unlike anywhere else in the world- and on a sunny day, I reckon it’s impossible to beat.

For me, it was great to see the wonder and amazement in the eyes of some of the other Finalists for whom it was their first time on Circular Quay. I asked a few of them for their impressions, and got responses like ‘speechless’, ‘overwhelmed’, ‘amazed’- again, it is a special place…

Once we caught our breath, it was back to the business at hand, pictures, interviews, and crazy antics down on Sydney Harbour.


The Sydney Opera House



The Opera Bar on Circular Quay


Team Outback Adventurer front-and-center on Sydney Harbour

The sails of the Opera House

Team Outback Adventurer with Tourism Australia Chief Andrew McEvoy


A lunch with a BILLION-dollar view- at The Opera Bar

The view from the Tourism Australia offices

After all the activities, it was back to the hostel for an EPIC dinner at Gowings Bar & Grill… I’ll tell you one thing- we’re not lacking for food on this trip, that’s for SURE!


Gowings Bar & Grill- QT-Sydney



After-dinner shenanigans with the BestJobs CREW

That was a wrap for Day 4- a MASSIVE Day 5 on tap… STAY TUNED!!!


Twitter: @n_tilley

Through Tourism Australia:

To learn about how YOU can plan your own EPIC adventure through Australia, click HERE.

Day 3 DownUnder

June 13, 2013 — 1 Comment


Day 3 DownUnder entailed our first ‘OFFICIAL’ day with Tourism Australia. We got to spend the ENTIRE day at the Tourism Australia offices in downtown Sydney, meeting their amazing crew, and learning all about this incredible adventure they’ve been planning out for us for OVER A YEAR! We could FEEL the excitement in the air as we passed through the office space- knowing glances, broad smiles and hushed whispers as we walked through to the Conference Room- everyone at Tourism Australia has been working so hard to bring this all together, and now, it’s all about to KICK OFF. It was a strange sensation, in a way- both between we Finalists ourselves, as well as between us and the Tourism Australia staff that have been following us for the past several weeks. It was like a reunion of old friends, but with people who had never actually met… A unique situation, to be sure, but it felt so natural to start putting faces and physical forms with names and titles we’ve come to recognize throughout this process. I think they may have even been more excited to be meeting us, which is saying something… Handshakes and hugs, smiles and stories- everyone finally getting together as Finals Week kicks off. It was a great day at the office, and I’m definitely looking forward to getting to know everyone better! 🙂




















What.a.CREW! So great to meet everyone, and cannot wait to see what these 10 day shave in store for us!

A great day at Tourism Australia was followed up by a delicious meal at Palings Kitchen & Bar at the Ivy. Lamb kebabs, baba ganoush, and tabbouleh- YES PLEASE! Good wine, great food, and better company- I even got to talk some Australian Rules Football, Rugby League, and even cricket! Good times all around on a beautiful night out in Sydney…














Day 2 DownUnder

June 12, 2013 — Leave a comment


Here’s a quick photo-journal of what I got up to on Day 2 in Australia… Somehow, it just keeps getting BETTER!




First things first- opening our BestJobs accounts @ Citibank Australia… That reminds me, I STILL have to go and pick up my card… Maybe tomorrow, if I have time… (???)


Then I hit up the Australia Museum for the 2013 Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibit– AMAZING!











So, one of the challenges we have to complete while on Kangaroo Island later this week is tracking an echidna in the wild- I’m guessing it will be a bit more mobile than this poor chap…





After all that, it was time to relax down on Macquarie Point- one of my favorite places in all of Sydney- and enjoy the sunset over Sydney Harbour… I know, it’s a lot of photos of the same sunset, but still- it was a beautiful night…



























Stay tuned! There’s HEAPS more to come…


Twitter: @n_tilley


To learn more about how YOU can plan your own EPIC adventure through Australia, click HERE.