A day in the life of a park ranger

A day in the life of a park ranger

No two days are the same for Low­er Lime­stone Coast (Robe) Park Ranger Emma Blyth­man, and that’s exact­ly why she loves her job.

On any giv­en day in the state’s spec­tac­u­lar South-East she could be deal­ing with inva­sive pests in the morn­ing, mon­i­tor­ing native species at lunch and help­ing Park cus­tomers in the afternoon.

I enjoy every facet of my role,” Emma says.

It’s a nice feel­ing to be proud to put on my ranger uni­form and look for­ward to going to work each day.

I would have to say my favourite part of the role is work­ing out­side in nature and pro­tect­ing our beau­ti­ful nation­al parks, includ­ing the plants and ani­mals that call them home.”

A day in the life of a park ranger

Grow­ing up in McLaren Vale, Emma com­plet­ed a Bach­e­lor of Busi­ness after fin­ish­ing high school, but says she always sus­pect­ed that her love of nature and the out­doors would set the course of her career path.

I have always felt very con­nect­ed to nature and once I fin­ished my degree, I spent my twen­ties trav­el­ling and work­ing in var­i­ous coun­tries over­seas,” she says.

The more I saw of the world the more my love for nature and my desire to pro­tect it grew, and I knew when I returned to Aus­tralia that I want­ed to ded­i­cate my career to pro­tect­ing the environment.”

In 2018 Emma start­ed work­ing at Ulu­ru-Kata Tju­ta Nation­al Park in the North­ern Ter­ri­to­ry, first­ly as a vis­i­tor ser­vices offi­cer work­ing at the Cul­tur­al Cen­tre Infor­ma­tion Desk before being pro­mot­ed to a project offi­cer role work­ing in the Joint Man­age­ment depart­ment between Tra­di­tion­al Own­ers and the Fed­er­al Government.

When I moved back to South Aus­tralia in 2021, I worked as a project fire­fight­er at Cle­land in the Ade­laide Hills for the Nation­al Parks and Wildlife Ser­vice before obtain­ing a ranger posi­tion at Dhil­ba Guu­ran­da – Innes Nation­al Park on the Yorke Penin­su­la and now final­ly a ranger role at Lit­tle Dip Con­ser­va­tion Park in Robe,” Emma says.

The tra­di­tion­al home of the Bun­gan­ditj and Mein­tangk peo­ple, Lit­tle Dip – south of Robe — fea­tures a rugged­ly beau­ti­ful coast­line and a num­ber of small lakes.

It’s about as pic­turesque an office” as you could hope for, but Emma says ranger life is not with­out its challenges.

These can dif­fer depend­ing on the loca­tion of the park, but I would say for our coastal parks the biggest chal­lenges we face are peo­ple camp­ing ille­gal­ly in the dunes and beach­es, bring­ing their dogs into the park, hav­ing fires in fire ban sea­son, leav­ing rub­bish behind, dri­ving off track and the dis­tur­bance to beach nest­ing shore­birds from 4WDs,” she says.

These com­pli­ance issues along our coast­lines are caus­ing dam­age to our veg­e­ta­tion and dune sys­tems and also com­pro­mis­ing the con­ser­va­tion of our native wildlife.

Con­sis­tent edu­ca­tion and com­pli­ance from rangers helps pro­tect the bio­di­ver­si­ty of our parks and pre­serve them for future gen­er­a­tions to come and enjoy.”

Emma says she knew very lit­tle about the Robe region before mov­ing there, but now open­ly admits that she has fall­en in love with the area.

And she has big plans for her time at Lit­tle Dip Con­ser­va­tion Park.

While I’m locat­ed here, I would like to get the park to a point where we are not just rec­ti­fy­ing the main­te­nance and mis­use issues but pro­gress­ing it even fur­ther in terms of nat­ur­al resource man­age­ment,” she says.

For young peo­ple think­ing about pur­su­ing the role of park ranger as their career, Emma says there are many avenues – but warns that it’s a com­pet­i­tive field.

I would sug­gest peo­ple get as much expe­ri­ence as pos­si­ble, and a great way to gain this expe­ri­ence is to vol­un­teer either through local Friends of Parks groups, or by apply­ing to become a vol­un­teer ranger through the Department’s vol­un­teer ranger pro­gram,” she says.

Most ranger posi­tions require a degree, but not always. If con­sid­er­ing study, then Envi­ron­men­tal Sci­ence of Con­ser­va­tion and Land Man­age­ment degrees are very helpful.

Emma Blythman, centre, and crew on park maintenance duty.
Emma Blyth­man, cen­tre, and crew on park main­te­nance duty.

Last­ly, fire­fight­ing is a high­ly regard­ed skill in the depart­ment. You could con­sid­er becom­ing a vol­un­teer through your local Coun­try Fire Ser­vice or apply to become a Project Fire­fight­er for the Depart­ment for Envi­ron­ment and Water. Many peo­ple become rangers through this employ­ment stream.”

Emma says she’s proud to be play­ing a role in pro­tect­ing our wild areas and help­ing to edu­cate peo­ple about the impor­tance of nature.

Nation­al parks are so impor­tant for pro­tect­ing the bio­di­ver­si­ty and ecosys­tems of the region,” she says.

Most land is now utilised for human advan­tage, whether it be hous­ing or farm­ing, and lit­tle nat­ur­al veg­e­ta­tion remains for wildlife and plants.

With­out these we would be in a lot of trou­ble, so it’s impor­tant to pre­serve it. It is also a place where humans can come and recon­nect with and enjoy nature.”

This sto­ry was orig­i­nal­ly pub­lished on the We Are SA web­site.

This con­tent was pro­duced in part­ner­ship with  Good Living