Insider guide: Shepherds Hill Recreation Park

Insider guide: Shepherds Hill Recreation Park

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

Eric de Smit – Senior Ranger at Shep­herds Hill Recre­ation Park

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

I see myself as a pro­tec­tor and con­ser­va­tor of the envi­ron­ment, which involves man­ag­ing fire in parks, engag­ing the com­mu­ni­ty in our parks, man­ag­ing and pro­tect­ing bio­di­ver­si­ty, and help­ing vis­i­tors to enjoy their park expe­ri­ence. The role is very diverse, which is a big part of its appeal.

I work with anoth­er ranger to ser­vice fire tracks and walk­ing trails, liaise with vol­un­teer groups and park vis­i­tors, pro­mote the park and per­form gen­er­al park man­age­ment duties.

I’m respon­si­ble for nine parks in the Ade­laide met­ro­pol­i­tan region, includ­ing Shep­herds Hill Recre­ation Park.

How did you get into this line of work?

In the late 80s I was employed as a plumber/​sewerage treat­ment oper­a­tor in Kosciusko Nation­al Park, New South Wales. I real­ly enjoyed my job. My respon­si­bil­i­ties includ­ed pro­vid­ing main­te­nance ser­vices for the Per­ish­er, Blue Cow, Guthe­ga and Smig­gins Hole ski fields, and so I was able to live in the park, which was such a beau­ti­ful environment.

My job required fair­ly ear­ly starts, so I’d often be the first one dri­ving up the moun­tain. This some­times meant com­ing across injured wildlife, so I’d col­lect them in my 4WD or ski mobile in win­ter and hand them over to wildlife car­ers. I real­ly enjoyed this aspect of my role.

Unfor­tu­nate­ly, I lost my job due to bud­get cuts and the pri­vati­sa­tion of ser­vices so I head­ed back home to the west­ern sub­urbs of Syd­ney. I real­ly missed my park life’ so my moth­er encour­aged me to study Parks, Recre­ation and Her­itage as a mature age stu­dent at Charles Sturt Uni­ver­si­ty. I haven’t looked back since!

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

As a Senior Ranger, I spend quite a bit of time in the office com­plet­ing admin­is­tra­tion tasks, but I get to bal­ance that with work­ing outside.

When the office work gets a bit much, I can head out to audit a fire or walk­ing track and recon­nect with nature. It’s the best of both worlds.

What’s the most amaz­ing thing you’ve seen atShep­herds Hill?

Most def­i­nite­ly the Grey box trees – they’re home for many of the park’s ani­mals. Pos­sums and birds feed on them and rep­tiles live in them.

What are your insid­er tips for vis­it­ing Shep­herds Hill?

Shep­herds Hill is a fan­tas­tic nat­ur­al place for recre­ation. You can moun­tain bike or walk our new trails, walk your dog (as long as it’s on a leash and sticks to the trail), bird watch (keep an eye out for corel­las, rain­bow lori­keets, wrens and fire­tails) or ride a horse.

If you’re after a walk or bike ride that show­cas­es the best of Shep­herds Hill, my tip is to start at the carpark and walk or ride your bike along the Riv­er Red Gum Loop until you merge with the Seav­iew Loop. Head up and over the steep hill and con­tin­ue on the Grey box Loop. This will take you right back to the car park and cov­ers around 4 kilometres.

To get a taste of Shep­herds Hill why not head to the Adven­ture Day on 20 March where you can bike ride, go on a guid­ed dog walk or try out archery.

Through­out the month of March Shep­herds Hill Recre­ation Park is being cel­e­brat­ed as the Park of Month – an ini­tia­tive between Nature Play SA and DEW.

If you’re a fan of Shep­herds Hill Recre­ation Parksend us your pho­tos and tips for vis­it­ing in the com­ments below.

*Pho­to cour­tesy of Jason Tyn­dall, Nature Play SA.

This con­tent was pro­duced in part­ner­ship with  Good Living