Insider Guide – Cobbler Creek Recreation Park

Insider Guide – Cobbler Creek Recreation Park

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

Meryl Schiller – Ranger in the Ade­laide and Mount Lofty Ranges region

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

It’s pret­ty var­ied – I’m involved in bio­di­ver­si­ty con­ser­va­tion, vol­un­teer and com­mu­ni­ty engage­ment, fire man­age­ment, and mak­ing sure vis­i­tors are hap­py and doing the right thing in our parks.

My role in this region also gives me a unique oppor­tu­ni­ty to make con­nec­tions and build rela­tion­ships with Kau­r­na, Pera­mangk, Ngad­juri and Ngar­rind­jeri peo­ple, which is some­thing that is close to my heart.

Being able to help facil­i­tate con­tact and make it eas­i­er for the gov­ern­ment and Indige­nous groups to under­stand each oth­er and work togeth­er is real­ly rewarding.

I have Abo­rig­i­nal her­itage on my mother’s side of the fam­i­ly – we belong to the Lar­rakia peo­ple of Dar­win. Hav­ing Abo­rig­i­nal her­itage and work­ing as a park ranger has helped me to under­stand what my her­itage means to me, what oth­er people’s her­itage may mean to them, and how we can work togeth­er with our shared his­to­ries, cul­tures and futures.

How did you get into this line of work?

I knew I want­ed to be a ranger from a real­ly young age. As a kid, our fam­i­ly spent a lot of time camp­ing and hik­ing in parks. I used to see the park rangers at work and thought that would have to be the best job in the world.

I stud­ied at Urrbrae Agri­cul­tur­al High School and went on to study Envi­ron­men­tal Man­age­ment at Flinders Uni­ver­si­ty. I was able to tai­lor this course to include some com­mu­ni­ty engage­ment sub­jects, as that is some­thing I’m also pas­sion­ate about. It’s not enough for sci­en­tists and envi­ron­men­tal­ists to con­serve and pro­tect the envi­ron­ment – the rest of soci­ety needs to be on board as well. Engag­ing the com­mu­ni­ty is an impor­tant part of rais­ing aware­ness and get­ting every­one involved.

After my stud­ies, I spent four years at Christ­mas Island Nation­al Park doing some field work on flo­ra and fau­na. It pro­vid­ed a great base as it was so remote that I was able to try my hand at just about everything.

I then came back to South Aus­tralia and land­ed a Grad­u­ate Park Ranger role, and the rest is history.

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

There’s no nor­mal day in this job. It gets most inter­est­ing when I’m the on-call duty offi­cer. I’ve field­ed lots of calls from the pub­lic con­cerned about the wel­fare of wildlife. It’s a great oppor­tu­ni­ty to edu­cate the pub­lic about wildlife as well as hav­ing extra eyes and ears to the ground in our parks.

I once got a call from some­one who thought they saw a wom­bat stuck in a fruit tree. After ask­ing a few ques­tions I found out it was actu­al­ly a pos­sum, just as I had suspected!

There’s also a com­mu­ni­ty engage­ment aspect to being a ranger, which I real­ly enjoy. I once took part in a junior ranger chal­lenge and was asked some great ques­tions from the kids like where do rocks come from?’ and how do eggs get made in the birds?’ I love see­ing kids fas­ci­nat­ed by nature.

Lots of my friends tell me how lucky I am to have this job – a while back I sent them a pic­ture of me in the office doing some fil­ing to show them that I’m not always out and about in parks. I spend around 50 per cent of my time in the office and the oth­er 50 per cent in parks.

What’s some­thing you real­ly enjoy about your job?

I love the com­radery between the rangers, parks and nat­ur­al resource man­age­ment staff when things get hec­tic. There’s often an intense demand on your time and you can feel like you need to be in three places at once.

We are there for each oth­er to talk things through. We under­stand and look out for each oth­er and every­one is always will­ing to help out. And if you’re stressed, the bush is the best place to take a breather and regroup!

What’s the most amaz­ing thing you’ve seen at Cob­bler Creek Recre­ation Park?

I’ve been at Cob­bler Creek Recre­ation Park on the Val­ley Cir­cuit when the pink gums were flow­er­ing. The birds and bees were lov­ing it. It was a won­der­ful moment see­ing every­thing come alive – the colours and sounds were amazing.

What are your insid­er tips about Cob­bler Creek Recre­ation Park?

Take a late after­noon stroll along the Porosa Track. Stop for a pic­nic at the Teak­le Ruins – and don’t for­get to bring your pic­nic rug. Head down to the creek after­wards and enjoy the sounds of the water run­ning and the birds singing. Take a moment to absorb the tran­quil­li­ty of this place and gaze at the dap­pled sun­light com­ing through the trees.

Through­out the month of Octo­ber, Cob­bler Creek Recre­ation Park is being cel­e­brat­ed as Park of Month – an ini­tia­tive between Nature Play South Aus­tralia and the Depart­ment of Envi­ron­ment, Water and Nat­ur­al Resources.

For more insid­er tips on what to do on your next vis­it, check out 5 trea­sures in Cob­bler Creek Recre­ation Park.

(Main image cour­tesy of Jason Tyn­dall Nature Play SA)

This con­tent was pro­duced in part­ner­ship with  Good Living