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27 Years In The World's Best Job

With the average Aussie holding down a job for just 3 years, the thought of loving a career so much to stick with it for more than quarter of a century is pretty much a pipedream.

For Ted Woolley and Vance Fahey it’s a blissful reality.

This month, both Ted and Vance are celebrating 27 years of continuous employment with Sunlover Reef Cruises, an Australian owned, award-winning reef experience that introduces guests to the incredible Outer Great Barrier Reef.

Above: Vance Fahey and Ted Woolley

Ted and Vance spend their days at one of the most beautiful ‘offices’ in the world, with Ted working as a marine biologist and Vance as a senior dive instructor. The duo have spent the last 27 years introducing guests from all over the world to the world’s largest living organism and it seems that neither Ted nor Vance are willing to give up their sea legs any time soon.

“As long as I’m fit and able, I will be out there at sea. I started diving when I was six years old”, reminisces Vance.

Having seen the Great Barrier Reef on a daily basis for the last 27 years, both Ted and Vance are quick to blast down worldwide propaganda that ‘the Great Barrier Reef is dying’.

Vance informs us that the Reef has ‘four distinct seasons like the land’ and Ted is happy to note that the Great Barrier Reef is just as beautiful and healthy as it was in the early 1990s.

He states: “Overall I haven’t seen too many changes on the Reef. Some years we get damage from cyclones, I’ve seen bleaching twice and once crown of thorns starfish outbreak. However, within a couple of years or so the Reef seems to regrow to its best”.

Although the Federal Government has recently invested $500m to preserve the reef, Ted believes that we all play a part in protecting this natural wonder.  “ We can all help not littering, recycling correctly, not pouring detrimental chemicals down drains, reporting any pollution to authorities, helping in beach and sea clean ups and joining various conservation groups”, he states.

Moore Reef, which lies 47KM off Cairns on the Outer Great Barrier Reef, is known for its abundance of colourful coral and is home to Sunlover’s double-story activity pontoon.

The pontoon, which is like a second home to both Ted and Vance, is home to hundreds of species of marine life, including green sea turtles, clown fish and Maori wrasse. For Vance, it’s the sightings of rarer marine species that really excite him. “My marine highlights are a 2.4m giant Queensland groper that turns up for a couple of days each year and humpback whales off the Sunlover pontoon”.

Vance and his underwater pal Wally the Maori wrasse

Ted, on the other hand, has had a bizarre underwater encounter that is reminiscent of a science fiction movie:

“The strangest thing I’ve seen was an animal drifting in the water that looked like a white sock or sleeve several metres long, hollow in the middle and open at both ends. It was a pyrosome which is like a long colony of tiny sea squirts all joined together”.

With 27 years of working on an Australian icon under their belts, what lies in the future for this inspiring duo?

When asked what he wants to do after his reef career with Sunlover, ted admitted ‘actually I‘ve never really thought much about what I would do after my reef career”.

Watch this space: there may be a 40 year Sunlover work anniversary coming soon!