Insider Guide: Cleland National Park

Insider Guide: Cleland National Park

Go behind the scenes to dis­cov­er the unique jobs and pas­sion­ate peo­ple that care for South Australia’s environment.

Ker­ri Vil­liers – Ranger-in-Charge – Ade­laide and Cen­tral Hills

How would you describe your job to some­one at a BBQ?

I don’t do what peo­ple tend to think I do. I man­age a team of staff who look after 30 parks around the Ade­laide and Cen­tral Hills area. With my team of rangers I man­age a range of tasks includ­ing pro­vid­ing engag­ing vis­i­tor expe­ri­ences, man­ag­ing assets and infra­struc­ture, bio­di­ver­si­ty con­ser­va­tion and wildlife man­age­ment, fire man­age­ment, her­itage pro­tec­tion, vol­un­teer sup­port and com­mu­ni­ty col­lab­o­ra­tion and engage­ment.

I also work with oth­er team lead­ers in the dis­trict and region to deliv­er a range of nat­ur­al resource man­age­ment ser­vices to the com­mu­ni­ty. Parks in the Ade­laide and Cen­tral Hills Dis­trict are sub­ject to impacts from a large pop­u­la­tion of peo­ple with com­plex and var­ied expec­ta­tions on the man­age­ment of these reserves. No two days are the same, it can be chal­leng­ing but also immense­ly reward­ing – I wouldn’t want to be doing any­thing else.

How did you get into this line of work?

Since high school I always want­ed to be a park ranger. I got the uni­ver­si­ty prospec­tus ear­ly so I knew which sub­jects I need­ed to under­take in high school to get into the park man­age­ment course. I grew up in the sub­urbs but just knew I want­ed to have a career in nature.

I start­ed out catch­ing koalas on Kan­ga­roo Island, fol­lowed by a stint as a Cave Guide at Kel­ly Hill Caves Con­ser­va­tion Park. I then moved on to become a sum­mer ranger with Parks Vic­to­ria, and after that I start­ed work­ing full time as a ranger at Black Hill. The rest is history.

What do you encounter in a nor­mal’ day on the job?

Hmm…that’s a hard ques­tion – every day is dif­fer­ent. A work day can include any­thing from doing a tour of a park, to min­is­te­r­i­al cor­re­spon­dence, or jump­ing on the back of a fire truck, to over­see­ing large scale infra­struc­ture projects.

I have a team of nine rangers who are real­ly the ones respon­si­ble for the day-to-day man­age­ment of the parks in the dis­trict. My job is to empow­er my team and to pro­vide the sup­port they need to ensure parks are sus­tain­able, safe and enjoy­able places to visit.

What’s the most amaz­ing thing you’ve seen at Cle­land Nation­al Park?

I don’t know that there is one amaz­ing thing or event that I can recall expe­ri­enc­ing in Cle­land Nation­al Park. But for me, what makes Cle­land such a spe­cial park is the seclu­sion, sense of iso­la­tion, spec­tac­u­lar views, and abil­i­ty to see amaz­ing wildlife such as bandi­coots and yel­low tailed black cock­a­toos in the wild all with­in such close prox­im­i­ty to urban Ade­laide.

One amaz­ing event that I haven’t been for­tu­nate to expe­ri­ence yet but am eager­ly wait­ing for is snow on Mount Lofty Sum­mit!

What are your insid­er tips about Cle­land Nation­al Park?

Def­i­nite­ly take the time to explore the park away from the ever-pop­u­lar Mount Lofty Sum­mit – this park has so much more to explore. Try vis­it­ing the seclud­ed trails in the south­ern area of the park.

It’s just such a joy that we have such an amaz­ing park so close to Ade­laide city, there is no excuse not to come and explore!

Check out5 trea­sures in Cle­land Nation­al Parkfor more insid­er tips on what to do on your next visit.

This sto­ry was orig­i­nal­ly post­ed in July 2016

This con­tent was pro­duced in part­ner­ship with  Good Living