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Riding high Down Under

UC Irvine alum Graham Michael Freeman will spend six months documenting food, culture and life in Tasmania.

August 15, 2013|By Rhea Mahbubani
  • Graham Freeman kayaks through Katherine Gorge in Nitmiluk National Park, Northern Territory, Australia.
Graham Freeman kayaks through Katherine Gorge in Nitmiluk… (Aude Mayans )

Graham Michael Freeman isn't the reigning "Outback Adventurer" for Australia's Northern Territory.

His proverbial crown is no less shiny, though.

The South African bloke will board a flight to Tasmania on Friday as the state's first "Tassie Devil Wrangler" — a title that will likely be a great conversation-starter in future job interviews, he quipped.

In the coming six months, Freeman will create content via photography, videos, blogs, articles and social media, becoming a connoisseur of the island's art, food, wine and history. While residing in Hobart, recently deemed the world's second-friendliest city by Condé Nast Traveler, the outdoor enthusiast is excited to try his hand at scuba diving, kayaking and fishing.

Freeman plans to sleep well on his flight Down Under and dive straight into work after arriving on Monday. First up, orientation, followed by a road trip across Tasmania.

"I've been in go-mode for the past three months and am so ready to touch down and begin the expedition," said the UC Irvine alum, who sounds as if he is on the verge of bursting with anticipation. "There is so much to see and do, and it's going to be jam-packed trying to fit in all that Tassie has to offer in six months."

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Freeman's was among an estimated 620,000 applications that poured in earlier this year for Tourism Australia's annual "Best Jobs in the World Contest," which offers six-month positions to winners who travel and document their experiences in different parts of the country.

For the 25-year-old Rancho Cucamonga resident, showtime began immediately after touching down in Sydney on June 11. The 18 finalists — three per position — interacted with kangaroos, koalas and media personnel and played football with the Sydney Swans, about which Freeman remarked, "Think of this as the Australian equivalent of shooting hoops with the Lakers!"

Along with the chance to visit Uluru and Kings Canyon, time in the Northern Territory was marked with interviews, leadership challenges, photography and video contests, and "bush tucker" — camel, kangaroo and crocodile for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Freeman, who developed close connections with other finalists — they felt like kindred spirits, not competitors, he reflected — was shepherded into Sydney's Gallery of New South Wales for the final announcement June 21. He remembers facing "blinding white lights from a wall of international press" when Allan Dixon's name was announced.

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