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Q&A: Farewell from the Funster

June 18th, 2014 | | industry

Screen shot 2014-06-18 at 12.01.01 PMNew South Wales Best Job in the World winner, Andrew Smith, will hang up his Chief Funster hat this week, after six months of promoting Sydney and NSW to the world. Andrew has been tripping around the state, documenting and sharing his experiences via social media.

The Chief Funster campaign has coincided with NSW receiving the highest number of youth visitors since the current International Visitor Survey (IVS) began in 2006, with a 5 per cent spike to 999,200 for the year ending March 2014, according to Tourism Research Australia. The number of nights spent in NSW by youth travellers is also up by 5 per cent to 43.1 million – up by just shy of two million. The Chief Funster role was the most popular of the six jobs available across Australia, receiving 124,000 applications, the highest number of any state.

The Byte’s Kris Madden caught up briefly with the Californian native to see if he had any last words before leaving Australia.

What was the highlight of your trip to Australia?

The highlight of my trip was seeing almost the entire State of New South Wales in just six months. There’s a huge variety here in terms of places you can go and things you can do. Looking back, I’m kind of impressed I had so many experiences in such a short amount of time! I attended more than 40 amazing events across the State, from the Parkes Elvis Festival and Byron Bay Bluesfest, to Sydney Festival and Vivid Sydney. Jumping out of a plane with Skydive the Beach in Wollongong also sticks out in my mind as a definite highlight.

It seems like you had a lot of fun. But what about the NSW work and study opportunities. What would you have to say to potential visitors about those? Did you actually do any work while you were here [grin]?

I’d wholly recommend NSW as a fantastic place to work and study. There are plenty of awesome job opportunities on offer and it’s super easy to apply for a Working Holiday Visa (here’s a link to a blog I wrote on the topic: http://www.sydney.com/sydney-life/work-study-play/how-to-apply-for-a-working-holiday-visa-in-australia/). The cafes here are hip and serve incredibly tasty food, there are hundreds of wineries and charming country towns to fulfil a rustic lifestyle, and there’s a bustling creative scene across Sydney. As the NSW Chief Funster, I had the opportunity to do a lot of fun things, and telling the story as it happened kept me plenty busy on the digital and social media front.

What was it like doing two rounds with The Stig?

The Stig is a maniac. I was trying to talk to the guy as he tore around Sydney Motorsport Park in a souped-up Holden, pushed to its limits, and he never responded. He just drove in complete silence while the tires screamed on the asphalt. Easily a top five experience.

Is there anything you didn’t get to do that you would have liked to?

I feel very satisfied with how much I packed into my time here, but there’s definitely more to be explored in NSW. If I had to pick one thing, I would have loved to check out every craft brewery in NSW. There are more than 30 in the state and fortunately I’ve sampled brews from at least half of those so far. The artisan beer movement is exploding here. The guys at Young Henry’s in Newtown, Rocks Brewing in Alexandria, and Batch Brewing in Marrickville – all in Sydney – are all incredibly nice and passionate people too.

So, what’s next for the Chief Funster?

It’ll be tough to match the specs of a job like the Chief Funster again. However, exploring a huge and unique place like NSW leaves me pretty well-equipped to handle whatever experiences come next.

What final words do you have to say to all those US backpackers and young travellers who have been following your journey?  

There’s no better time than now to pack your bags and head out. It’s easier than you think to get a Working Holiday Visa and come to Australia. After that, the adventure is up to you. It’s difficult to pass up the high quality of life and packed list of experiences to choose from in NSW. I would usually say, „Don’t take my word for it”, but after the last six months, I think you have to.

For more information on working holidays in NSW visit www.sydney.com/workstudyplay

Check out Andrew’s Moments of Fun at www.sydney.com/workstudyplay/guide/moments-of-fun