Australia goes from 'best job' to 'best taxi ride'

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The Independent Online

Australian tourism authorities are seeking five foreign couples to take part in what is touted as the world's longest, and most extraordinary, taxi ride.

Building on last year's highly successful "Best Job in the World" campaign, officials are hoping to promote remote and rugged Western Australia by launching the "Extraordinary Taxi Ride".

In a nine-week journey over some 11,000 kilometres (7,000 miles) of road, five couples - one from New Zealand, Malaysia, Singapore, Germany and Britain - will travel the state in the back of a taxi.

The couples, along with six Australian pairs, will travel one section each of the 11-leg journey, which starts in Perth on April 9 and traverses Outback and the beach-lined west coast before winding north to ex-pearling centre Broome.

"It's based on the story of a 1930s spinster and two colleagues who travelled from Melbourne to Darwin and back again by taxi, but with a modern twist," said Tourism WA director Stephanie Buckland.

That record-breaking trip, an epic 9,000 kilometres along Australia's east coast, cost the wealthy and adventurous Ada Beal 300 pounds and took three months in a soft-top taxi in 1930.

The fare roughly translates to about 20,000 Australian dollars (18,000 US dollars) today.

Buckland said the 2010 ride would be a far cry from driver Charlie Heard's original journey, featuring four-wheel drive "stunt taxi" vehicles for the bumpier, more remote sections and involving support and film crews.

Participants will document their all-expenses-paid adventure online with video blogs and Twitter updates, and the official website will feature a live streaming "taxicam" and a guess-the-fare contest, she added.

More than 400 Perth cabbies have applied to drive the epic route, with a winner to be announced on March 11.

The northeastern state of Queensland last year advertised the "Best Job in the World", a six-month caretaker stint on idyllic Hamilton Island, drawing thousands of applications and global media coverage.

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