The competition for "the best job in the world" has been narrowed to a short list of 16 finalists all hoping to become caretaker of a tropical island paradise off Australia's Great Barrier Reef.
The candidates, including journalists, students, a teacher and an actress, come from 15 countries, and include a "wildcard" Taiwanese woman chosen by the public.
Tourism Queensland selected them from a global field of 50 -- winnowed from a total of 34,684 applicants -- for the six-month job of highly paid caretaker of Hamilton Island, off Australia's far northern coast.
Peter Lawlor, Queensland state's tourism minister, said the top 50 were so impressive that officials had upped the number of finalists to 15 from a planned 10.
"The final shortlisted applicants come from 15 countries, range in age from 20 to 38, comprise 10 men and six women, and include students, journalists, TV presenters, photographers, a receptionist, radio DJ, teacher, charity event manager and an actress," said Lawlor.
"From organising stunts like scuba-diving in a tank in Amsterdam, dressing up as a mermaid in downtown Singapore and spruiking at a London pub, to conducting hundreds of media interviews, the top 50 have shown an incredible amount of ingenuity and passion," he said.The 15 will vie with Taiwanese interpreter Clare Wang, who won the wildcard slot thanks to the public, after attracting 151,676 votes, almost three times as many as her closest rival.
She and the other finalists will be flown to the island in early May for the final selection process, with the successful candidate announced on May 6.
The winner will be paid 150,000 Australian dollars (about 100,000 US) for a six-month contract and free airfares to the tourist paradise.
In return, the winner will be expected to have as much fun as possible -- soaking up the sun, swimming, snorkeling, sailing -- and report to a global audience via weekly blogs, photo diaries and video updates.
Finalists include a British charity worker, a Dutch photographer, a German actress, a Chinese manager, an Indian DJ and two Australians.