Insider Guide: Morialta Conservation Park

Insider Guide: Morialta Conservation Park

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

Dave Heard – Senior Ranger at Mori­al­ta Con­ser­va­tion Park

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

I believe I have one of the most reward­ing jobs, help­ing peo­ple appre­ci­ate our nation­al park and gain­ing an under­stand­ing of the wildlife. One key aspect is about vis­i­tors, mak­ing sure the park is a safe place for them to come. And anoth­er is bal­anc­ing and con­serv­ing wildlife. Fer­al ani­mals and weeds can reduce the val­ue of the bush so I spend a deal of time work­ing with vol­un­teers and con­trac­tors to reduce their impacts. 

How did you get into this line of work?

I have a com­pas­sion for the nat­ur­al envi­ron­men­tal, which tends to come nat­u­ral­ly to all rangers. As a kid I kept lizards and snakes in my bed­room, much to my mother’s dis­gust, and on week­ends I would go out in the bush. As we lived on the out­skirts of Mel­bourne and had bush­land across the road, week­end explor­ing was com­mon­place. Ini­tial­ly I want­ed to be a vet, but I got into a sci­ence degree at uni and thought I would trans­fer into vet stud­ies lat­er, but I couldn’t help but stay on and become a ranger. I met a per­son who had been a ranger for a few years and I was inspired to do some­thing about con­ser­va­tion and some­thing for the future.

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

There’s no such thing as a nor­mal’ day in this job, but in a nor­mal’ week I might spend one day pro­mot­ing Mori­al­ta and engag­ing with vis­i­tors, a day for­ward plan­ning about some of the process­es that need to take place, like plan­ning new vis­i­tor facil­i­ties, or meet­ing with vol­un­teers about their work plan. Pre­scribed burn­ing takes a bit of time in spring and fire response over the sum­mer months, I might spend anoth­er day look­ing into pest man­age­ment and then there are always the emails to catch up on in the office.

This week for exam­ple I spent a day work­ing on pest con­trol. Goats have been trash­ing an area of the park that’s home to some crit­i­cal­ly endan­gered species, so we had to weigh up the needs of the park and the dam­age that these pest goats were doing. The rest of the week I have been in the park meet­ing vis­i­tors and look­ing at walk­ing trails.

What’s the most amaz­ing thing you’ve seen at Morialta?

It’s pret­ty hard to pick just one thing. Baby Tawny frog­mouths are always some­thing spe­cial, as are kook­abur­ras and rosel­las in the pic­nic area. If you walk up onto the ridges, Yel­low-tailed black cock­a­toos will be seen fly­ing over, also keep an eye out for lori­keets look­ing for anoth­er feed. When the water­fall and creek are flow­ing, that attracts a lot of ani­mals. The most excit­ing thing for me was find­ing the endan­gered Cunningham’s skink in a remote area of the park.

Also, what I real­ly like is that at any time of the year when you’re walk­ing through the park you can find orchids on either side of the trail. This park is pret­ty spe­cial as we have a view of the city from here, as well as views of the water­falls. It’s so close to the city that peo­ple can come and relieve their ten­sions and find their men­tal strength, but it’s a big enough place that you can walk for an hour or so and not see any­one else.

What are your insid­er tips about Morialta?

My insid­er tip is def­i­nite­ly don’t be afraid to explore. Enjoy some time in the new nature play space – the chil­dren will love it – and just qui­et­ly I think the adults will too. Don’t be afraid to take a walk. You will be reward­ed with stun­ning vis­tas, the sounds of birds and ani­mals, and feel bet­ter for leav­ing the world behind. There’s a whole net­work of trails that all lead back to the car park. Explore the Falls, all three, and be reward­ed. There’s so much to see so be pre­pared to explore. Just remem­ber dogs can only be walked up to First Fall car park. This is for the safe­ty of your dog and the wildlife in the park.

This sto­ry was orig­i­nal­ly post­ed in Novem­ber 2015.

(Main image cour­tesy of Jason Tyn­dall, Nature Play South Australia)

This con­tent was pro­duced in part­ner­ship with  Good Living