Cabbie wins busman's holiday
A Western Australian taxi driver named the state's favourite cabbie in an online contest has won the right to take 22 passengers on a 4,000-mile ride.
Doug Slater also picked up a prize of £15,000 after he won the most votes in an online poll run by Tourism Western Australia and will now rack up the miles ferrying passengers to the top 11 tourist sites in Australia's largest state.
An international competition is now under way to choose the passengers for what the tourism department is calling The Extraordinary Taxi Ride, part of a state tourism campaign. The competition is open to residents of Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Singapore, Malaysia and Germany.
The journey begins on April 9, and each leg of travel takes between four to nine days.
"There's lots to see and show," Mr Slater said after his win was announced on Friday. "This is about getting the message out, doing something different."
Western Australia's campaign follows a widely publicised tourism promotion last year by Queensland state, which held a worldwide competition to hire someone for the "Best Job in the World" _ caretaker of a tropical island for six months. The winner of that contest, Briton Ben Southall, completed his blogging and sightseeing job on December 31.
Mr Slater was handed the keys to a new taxi by Tourism Minister Liz Constable in a beachside ceremony. The driver, from Bunbury - 100 miles south of Perth - said his previous longest taxi fare was about 110 miles.
Western Australia boasts the whitest beach in Australia, diverse reefs, famous wineries, a large chunk of the Outback and a cone-like range of sandstone peaks known as the Bungle Bungles in a World Heritage-listed national park in the state's north-east.
The 2008 film "Australia" starring Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman was filmed in remote parts of the state.