The secret life of a volunteer ranger

Monday 20 June, 2005

Joelle Metcalf and Julian Fennessy, the Bush Heritage Conservation Partners team, talk about the vital importance to the organisation of volunteer rangers.

Black-striped wallabies are easy to see at Carnarvon Station Reserve. Photo Wayne Lawler/EcoPix.

Black-striped wallabies are easy to see at Carnarvon Station Reserve. Photo Wayne Lawler/EcoPix.

Volunteer rangers? Who are they and what is their role in Bush Heritage’s management of Australia’s natural environment?

Put simply, volunteer rangers are people like you and me and they're essential to the management of the large Bush Heritage reserves. At Bush Heritage we depend on volunteers to assist with the multitude of tasks required to help manage the huge areas of conservation land in our care.

Veteran volunteer rangers John and Lyla Hansen, who have worked at both Carnarvon Station and Ethabuka reserves, put it this way:

There is a lot to be done on [the reserves] and no volunteer with a spirit for adventure will be disappointed. You will love it as much as we did.’

 

Peter and Margaret Calder relax at the end of the day. Photo Wayne Lawler/EcoPix.

Peter and Margaret Calder relax at the end of the day. Photo Wayne Lawler/EcoPix.

To be a volunteer ranger you do not need to have any specific skills or knowledge or come from a conservation background. What you need is a sense of adventure, a sense of humour, a natural love of the outdoors and a desire to help conserve Australia's natural environment for generations to come.

You will also need a current first aid certificate, but if you don’t have one Bush Heritage can help you to obtain it. For those of you who do have special skills – in trades, in anything mechanical or practical, or in ecology – we certainly have a job for you.

Your work as a volunteer ranger may vary from day to day. You might be painting, hammering, sawing, fencing, pulling weeds, catching feral animals, digging, spraying, surveying plants or animals, recording data, mapping, monitoring or even bulldozing.

John Hansen and Bob Gleeson sorting timber at Ethabuka. Photo Al Dermer.

John Hansen and Bob Gleeson sorting timber at Ethabuka. Photo Al Dermer.

All these activities are on the agenda at some time as part of the management work needed on the larger reserves. At the end of the day you can relax with a cold beer or a glass of wine in your hand and watch the sun go down in one of the most spectacular landscapes in Australia.

A good meal amongst friends, sharing the events of the day, and a comfortable bed make the experience complete. One couple remarked, ‘We took advantage of the situation and had breakfast and dinner outside on the verandah every day.We [also] decided to sleep under the stars... The air was deliciously cool.’

Being a volunteer ranger is not just relentless work. Usually on weekends you're free to explore the property you're working on, which gives you an opportunity to discover a beautiful environment and glimpse the rarely observed world of the local wildlife.

The Blue Spring sign goes in. Photo Wayne Lawler/EcoPix.

The Blue Spring sign goes in. Photo Wayne Lawler/EcoPix.

And there's always the anticipation of seeing something ‘new’. The regular feedback we receive from volunteer rangers is always glowing about their experience and the management of the reserves.

Dedicated volunteers Len and Valerie Warren wrote,‘We thoroughly enjoyed the three weeks we spent at Charles Darwin Reserve. We learnt a great deal about the day-to-day running of the reserve and what it's like to live in a situation where your work is also your home.’

Our reserve managers are amazed at the dedication of the volunteers, and regard them as ‘indispensable’. They comment that the volunteers provide support and assistance in a whole range of tasks that would take much longer to complete without them.

Lifelong friendships are also forged. Barry Leithhead and Robin McIntyre commented on the rewards of their work at Tarcutta Hills Reserve:

Building the verandah at Ethabuka. Photo Al Dermer.

Building the verandah at Ethabuka. Photo Al Dermer.

‘This short, rewarding and enjoyable volunteer ranger activity brought us closer to Bush Heritage’s mission and reserve management program. It also demonstrated how worthwhile our support is for Bush Heritage. We certainly hope that we will be able to return to Tarcutta Hills Reserve in the future for more volunteer ranger activities.’

So why not consider becoming a volunteer ranger! Those of you with a month to spare and a sense of adventure can volunteer on any of Carnarvon Station Reserve and Ethabuka Reserve, Qld, Charles Darwin Reserve,WA, and Tarcutta Hills Reserve, NSW.

We also encourage you to work at the Mareeba Tropical Savannah and Wetlands Reserve in far-north Queensland, a unique area managed by the Mareeba Wetlands Foundation.We, and they, would love to have your help.

For more information see our volunteering page.

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