Recognising our rangers

Recognising our rangers

It’s World Ranger Day – a time to cel­e­brate the spe­cial role that rangers play in look­ing after our parks.

To mark the occa­sion we spoke to three rangers about the job, why they love it and the spe­cial things they encounter in South Australia’s parks.

Name: Simon Oster

Job title: Senior Ranger at Deep Creek Nation­al Park

How did you get into this line of work?

I grew up with par­ents who always took the fam­i­ly away to vis­it South Australia’s nation­al parks, go camp­ing and enjoy nature. I sup­pose some­thing rubbed off’, and my appre­ci­a­tion for nature and pas­sion for con­ser­va­tion and the great out­doors was embed­ded at a young age. I sim­ply fol­lowed my instincts and pur­sued a career as a ranger.

What does a nor­mal’ day as a ranger look like for you?

This job has no bound­aries! One day could involve admin­is­tra­tion duties, but change dra­mat­i­cal­ly with­in min­utes. Res­cu­ing wildlife, assist­ing vis­i­tors, work­ing with experts and researchers, respond­ing to emer­gen­cies, wit­ness­ing amaz­ing wildlife behav­iours and encoun­ters, and shar­ing sto­ries with col­leagues and the pub­lic usu­al­ly make for a fas­ci­nat­ing and total­ly enjoy­able day. The unpre­dictabil­i­ty of how any one day might pan out adds to the appeal of the job. 

What’s the most reward­ing part of your job?

I think the most reward­ing part is mak­ing a dif­fer­ence to the pro­tec­tion of our reserve sys­tem, and edu­cat­ing oth­ers to respect and share con­ser­va­tion val­ues. I work with like-mind­ed, tal­ent­ed and self-moti­vat­ed peo­ple who are con­ser­va­tion-ori­ent­ed and capa­ble of achiev­ing great things – I find that reward­ing in itself!

Name: Jae Ellis

Job title: Senior Ranger at Belair Nation­al Park

What does a nor­mal’ day as a ranger look like for you?

It’s quite amaz­ing because every ranger in the state has a dif­fer­ent job. It very much depends on what’s hap­pen­ing in the dis­trict at the time, what time of year it is, and how busy it is. In sum­mer it’s a lot of fire man­age­ment work, in win­ter there’s more of a focus on man­ag­ing con­trac­tors to under­take work in the park, and dur­ing the hol­i­day sea­son there’s a focus on vis­i­tor man­age­ment. I’m also involved in wildlife man­age­ment and work­ing with volunteers.

What’s the most reward­ing part of your job?

One of the most reward­ing parts of my job was when I was work­ing at Gawler Ranges Nation­al Park with the Bounce­back Project, help­ing to recov­er Yel­low-foot­ed Rock Wal­la­bies. The project’s been going for more than 20 years now and is about restor­ing nat­ur­al habi­tats and improv­ing bio­di­ver­si­ty. The num­ber of wal­la­bies in the area has gone from being in the 10s and 20s to more than 100 ani­mals, and it’s not just the wal­la­bies that have ben­e­fit­ed. The project has also helped species like goan­nas and malleefowl.

How do peo­ple get into this kind of career?

It’s an incred­i­bly com­pet­i­tive field to get into because there are such lim­it­ed posi­tions. Ter­tiary stud­ies in an envi­ron­men­tal field and par­tic­i­pa­tion in the Depart­ment of Envi­ron­ment, Water and Nat­ur­al Resources grad­u­ate scheme is gen­er­al­ly the way to go.

Name: Andrew Hans­ford (pic­tured)

Job title: Ranger at Nara­coorte Caves Nation­al Park and World Her­itage Area

How did you get into this line of work?

I’ve worked here for 20 years, orig­i­nal­ly as a guide in the park’s unique World Her­itage list­ed caves before mov­ing into the con­struc­tion and main­te­nance side of things. I’ve also filled in for a num­ber of ranger roles in oth­er near­by parks.

What does a nor­mal’ day as a ranger look like for you?

It’s all about ser­vice deliv­ery – the ongo­ing main­te­nance of vis­i­tor areas includ­ing weed­ing, spray­ing and gen­er­al­ly look­ing after the 600 hectares of the park. I spend a lot of time talk­ing to vis­i­tors, I’ll stop and direct them to dif­fer­ent areas of the park and talk to them about things to look at and do, includ­ing dif­fer­ent species they might see or the best pic­nic spots.

What’s one of the most amaz­ing things you’ve seen at the park?

We see all sorts of things here. I’ve seen an albi­no ring­tail pos­sum which was pret­ty spe­cial, but one of the most inter­est­ing things I’ve seen was an echid­na train go across the road in front of me. This is some­thing that hap­pens in mat­ing sea­son, where male echid­nas form a line behind a female and fol­low her in an attempt to mate. Basi­cal­ly per­se­ver­ance pays off, the last one left in the line wins! I’ve only seen this twice in 20 years.

Now that you know a lit­tle more about what our rangers do and why they love it, why not head into one of our parks and check out South Australia’s beau­ti­ful and unique envi­ron­ments for yourself.

This con­tent was pro­duced in part­ner­ship with  Good Living