Shellie Cash is Ranger-in-Charge at Currawinya National Park in western Queensland. She has always loved being outdoors studying different animals. Growing up on a farm gave her a passion for land management and, after completing high school, Shellie took on a traineeship with QPWS in Rockhampton. It didn’t take her long to realise that she had found her perfect job.
How long have you worked in national parks?
I’ve been with QPWS for 11 years now. I have met some interesting folks and made some great friends along the way. I love being able to share my knowledge and utilise the many different skills that I’ve picked up from colleagues over the years.
Which parks have you worked in?
I’ve worked in many different parks in Queensland. On the east coast, I’ve worked at places such as Rockhampton, Byfield and Agnes Water. I’ve also spent time in our western parks such as Clermont, Girraween, Welford and Currawinya National Park (my current position). Even though the place where I grew up, and still call home, is Rockhampton, the western areas keep calling me back.
What is your most memorable moment?
My most memorable moment would have to be seeing my first marine turtle come up the beach to nest. We were working on the beach at Deepwater National Park, on Queensland’s central coast, putting out baits for foxes, when a loggerhead turtle came up (in the middle of the day) to lay her eggs. I had never seen a turtle egg before, let alone a turtle laying her eggs. I think I must have watched her for an hour or more—after all, turtles are not the quickest animals on land!
Can you describe your favourite national parks experience?
My best experience would have to be seeing the wildflowers and hiking the walking tracks at Girraween National Park. The landscape there is like nothing I’ve ever seen—the biggest rocks you’ll ever see and so many different kinds of pretty little flowers. I love it.
What is the best part about working in a National Park?
The best part would have to be that I get to work every day in a place where most people only get to visit for their holidays. As a Park Ranger, there are so many different things that you have the opportunity to do, and no day is ever the same as the next. I like that one day I will be digging holes or fixing an old building and the next I could be fighting a fire or trapping and identifying different rodents and reptiles.
What is your top tip for visitors to parks for bushwalking?
My top tip is to know how long the trail is going to take to walk. The best way to do that is to check details on the web site, and check with the local ranger once you’re on site. There is nothing worse than having to walk back in the dark because it took longer than expected. Also take enough water and have comfortable shoes.
What is your top tip for campers?
Go online and find out what facilities and activities are near the camp site you propose to camp at. That way you won’t be disappointed and won’t have to book another site. Also, you should never go without bug spray and extra toilet paper!
NPAQ thanks Shellie for taking time to answer our questions. We appreciate the work all QPWS rangers undertake in protecting Queensland’s national parks.