I’m walking on air today, because it was just announced that I’m on the shortlist for the Best Job in the World! Honestly, I already thought I had the best job in the world…I spend my days cooking, gardening, brewing beer and wine, traveling, and sharing these experiences with my amazing fans all over the world. It’s not really a job, though, because I don’t get paid. However…that may be about to change!
Last year, Tourism Australia launched a pilot program to help promote tourism Down Under, and they scoured the globe for one lucky person to spend 6 months on an island on the Great Barrier Reef, blogging about their experiences, in exchange for $100,000. The lucky winner last year was Ben Southall, a bloke from London who’s not too unlike myself. Ben’s experience was closely followed by millions of people around the world, and the program was so successful that, this year, EVERY state in Australia has their own “Best Job in the World.” The one that I applied for is called “Taste Master” and it’s in my FAVORITE part of Australia…Perth and Western Australia. I first visited this extraordinary part of the world in 2002, to see dear friends that I met in Antarctica the year before. And they treated us to an authentic Western Australian trip, starting off with a big barbecue:
This is my amazing friend Wayne, who, along with his wife Iris, was one of the original pioneers to head west and begin farming the wilderness of Western Australia. Their big era of westward movement didn’t really happen until the mid 1900s, when the government offered free land to those who would head west and farm there. Like all Australians, Wayne and Iris had a fierce independence and determination to succeed, and decades of hard work have rewarded them well. So it’s amazing to hear their stories of living in a tent, as newlyweds, and breaking the never-farmed soil with hand tools. It’s a shame I took this photo before Wayne tossed some “prawns on the barbey,” which were about as big as lobsters. I’ve never seen shrimp the size of Australian shrimp:
(In Australia, golfers have to worry about more hazards than sand traps and water. Kangaroos are drawn to the cool, grassy links and the male “boomers” can get downright aggressive if they don’t like you!)
We held koalas (they smell horrible!), we jogged on sugar-sand beaches, and then we explored the wine country of Swan Valley and the Margaret River. My very first winery visit of my life was the River Bank Estate, and after an intensively-educational tasting there, I discovered…11 years ago…that I was in love with wine. Soon after returning from the Swan Valley wineries, I determined I was going to start making wine myself, so I owe my love affair with this magical beverage to Western Australia.
Don’t I look young in this picture? This Rolls Royce was parked on the DIRT in front of the winery, and I couldn’t resist snapping a shot. I had never seen one before. After the epiphanous wine tasting, we sat down to a meal I remember to this day:
This was duck leg confit on a simple salad of greens grown right there on the estate, the biggest mulberries I have EVER seen to date (also from the winery), kumquats, and a mulberry vinaigrette. And, in true double-whammy style, my horizons opened not only to wine, but to the idea of food sophistication…NOT in terms of fancy ingredients, but in simplicity, freshness, using ingredients you can grow yourself, and executed with perfect technique. So you could say that I cut both my culinary AND vinous teeth in Western Australia, and I can’t wait to go back!
Wouldn’t it be cool to follow my blog while I explore this amazing corner of the world? Perth is a striking oceanside city, one of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen. Look at these stunning jacaranda trees:
Australia’s plant life is as unique and bizarre as their animals. Take a look at these boab trees in Perth’s famous Kings Park, which is bigger than Central Park in Manhattan:
Please check this page to find out how you can help during these final 2 days!