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Hi, I'm the Chief Funster. Wait—the what?!

Last year, Andrew Smith landed one of six "Best Jobs in the World" in Australia, as the Chief Funster. That meant a six-month contract with a paycheck of A$100,000 (US$94,000), all expenses included. All he had to do was party his way around New South Wales, the region he was assigned to, and then talk it up on social media. The other dream jobs, which were assigned to various other regions, included outback adventurer, park ranger, wildlife caretaker, taste master and lifestyle photographer. Chief Funster sounds like a great gig, but what exactly does a Chief Funster do all day? Here's Smith's tell-all.

What was your background — what sort of experience and qualifications did you have to be the Chief Funster?

I'm from Orange County in California, USA. Previously I was a producer at the agency, Envoy; social media manager in Dubai for the travel show, Peeta Planet; and a consultant for HarperCollins. Spending the last three-plus years as a digital storyteller has taken me to six continents on a mission to pique curiosity and make experiences come to life for those on the other side of the screen.

“Say, cheese!” Bringing the fun to kangaroos at Pebbly Beach.
Source: Destination NSW; Andrew Smith
“Say, cheese!” Bringing the fun to kangaroos at Pebbly Beach.

What made you think you had the right stuff to be the Chief Funster?

Charged with delivering the online story for the travel show I previously worked on, the crew hit 12 countries in the span of 4.5 months. The crew churned out an insane amount of content in such a short period of time. In the midst of all that, telling the brilliant story of travel, taking good photos and building a community was still the passion – good training!

What was your mission as Chief Funster?

New South Wales (NSW) spans 802,000 square kilometers of area and my job as Chief Funster has been to have at least 802,000 moments of fun in six months. Finding the fun hasn't been the challenge, fitting it all in has been! Check out the stats here.

Along the way, I've been documenting and sharing my travels and experiences with youth people from all over the world, shooting photos and videos, writing blogs on www.sydney.com/sydney-life and posting on on social media – Facebook (www.facebook.com/sydneyfunaustralia), Twitter ( @sydneyfun) and Instagram (@sydneyfun).

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“Am I doing this right?” Surf lessons on Bondi Beach.
Source: Destination NSW; Andrew Smith
“Am I doing this right?” Surf lessons on Bondi Beach.

What does a Chief Funster do all day?!

Each day brings something new. One day I might be driving up the Legendary Pacific Coast stopping off for the launch of Newcastle Craft Beer Week and then heading onto sunny Byron Bay for Byron Bay Bluesfest. The next I might be expanding my mind at a Vivid Ideas talk in Sydney and schmoozing with VIPs at the opening night of Sydney Film Festival. The variety on offer here is huge.

What was the best part of being the Chief Funster?

Doing something new every single day has been the best part by far. Of all the states and territories in Australia, NSW has the most variety packed in. Here, I've been able to have experiences as diverse as conducting a water balloon fight with Elvii (plural of Elvis) in the rural town of Parkes at the annual Elvis Festival to rappelling down the face of the Empress Falls in the Blue Mountains.

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What was the hardest part?

Covering a state as large and diverse as NSW in just six months is borderline crazy. However, I think I got picked because Destination NSW knew I'd go for it at 100 percent.

What was the most surprising part of the job?

It was pretty surprising to learn that you don't need a unique job like mine as Chief Funster to come here and partake in basically everything that I've been doing. As an 18-30-year-old traveler, it's unbelievably simple to get a working-holiday visa to both travel and make money in NSW. The job market back home in the U.S. has definitely improved, but it can still be difficult to navigate. In comparison, Australia has an amazing quality of life and every here just seems easy. It's a great alternative for people to consider.

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I've met plenty of people who dream about travelling to and living in Australia, but it remains a dream when they get stuck worrying about how to make it all work financially. However in reality, it's super easy for young travellers to get a "Work and Holiday" visa and to discover the awesome life-changing work, study and lifestyle opportunities on offer here. Here's my recent step-by-step blog on how to apply.

Another thing that's pretty cool is by spending three months or more working in regional NSW, you can apply for a second year visa. It's a great incentive to try the quintessential Australian working holiday in an outback pub, picking fruit or mustering cattle and sheep at a farm.

The chief funster occasionally has to jump out of a plane. Here, skydiving in Wollongong.
The chief funster occasionally has to jump out of a plane. Here, skydiving in Wollongong.

What was the best reaction when you told someone your title was Chief Funster?

I've been met with disbelief, with people saying my job sounds too good to be true. There's been a bit of envy too… especially on social when people see photos of me having fun in NSW, hanging out on beautiful beaches, making friends with cuddly Australian animals, attending unique events and festivals, and so on. It reminds me how privileged I am!

What will you miss the most about the job?

Variety is the spice of life, and doing something wildly different all the time has been incredible. I'm going to do my best to keep up the pace and feel pretty positive about that happening.

#snakeselfie at Symbio Wildlife Park
Source: Destination NSW; Andrew Smith
#snakeselfie at Symbio Wildlife Park

So, once you've been Chief Funster, what happens next?

Well, no doubt it's going to be a tough gig to match.

I'm all about telling good stories, so I'd say more photography, more video, and more social media will be on the horizon. And I don't want to leave NSW just yet! There's still plenty more for me to experience and show. You can follow me on Instagram or Twitter to stay tuned.

Commentary by Andrew Smith, the Chief Funster of New South Wales, Australia. Follow him on Twitter @sydneyfun.

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