Cairns Characters: Rhys Latchford, Marine World caretaker
On his own on the Great Barrier Reef, before 150 excited tourists turn his world upside down for five hours: Rhys loves the ying and yang of life on the reef. Video: Isaac Egan, Interview: Simon Crerar.
SLEEPING alone on the Great Barrier Reef with only his guitar and the the fish for company, this young man has one of the most unusual jobs in Australia.
My day starts at 07:00. I’ll set-up the snorkel and dive station, then do engine checks on our four boats and clean-up any bird mess. When the big boat arrives I have a variety of jobs. At the moment I’m on watch.
Basically I’m monitoring everyone in the water. I carefully watch the people that need attention: for instance, that woman over there has three noodles, which is a pretty good sign that she can’t swim.
I drive the semi-submersible and the glass-bottom boat. In the busy season we average 150 guests a day, but somedays we have more. It’s nice when there’s no one else here. It’s very peaceful. I’ve had humpback whales
breaking 10m off the pontoon. If it’s 30-40 knots I get a bit homesick and hide in my room, but when it’s good weather it’s a good job to have.
It’s better than all my previous jobs. I’ve worked on a prawn trawler, sold Austar door-to-door and worked for Dominos, so this is the pick. Every day is different. The diversity of the reef is amazing. Last week we had a whale shark, this morning we had eagle rays: there’s always something different.
Once the passengers are done at 3:30pm they leave and I tidy up the mess, wash the platform, secure the boats and get ready for the next day. There’s always something to look forward to, you never know what it is, but when it happens, it’s pretty cool.
I’ve got a TV, computer, electric guitar. It’s good for study, there aren’t too many distractions. I’ve got my six pack for the end of the day, but I can’t go too far, so I can’t cause too much mischief.
World’s oldest rainforest on one side, the Great Barrier Reef on the other, meet the wonderfully diverse wildlife that calls Far North Queensland home. Our new blog is live now at www.cairns.com.au/wildnature
Share this article
Keeping lookout: Busy one moment, silent the next, Rhys has one of the best jobs in the world, living on the Great Barrier Reef.