Martin is a Senior Ranger based in Dalby in the Western Downs region. On reflection, he was born to be a Ranger. Being looked over by tall trees was always part of his formative years and for Martin, forests always seemed to go on forever with an endless quality. Growing up in Brisbane in the 1970s, he spent his childhood exploring the vast tracts of forests surrounding the suburbs and his schools. During lunch times, he and his mates would disappear into the trees until the bell rang (and some)—all part of his early Ranger training.
How long have you worked in national parks?
I came to Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service from the Department of Forestry. In total, between the two departments, I have worked in Queensland forests for 36 years. The marriage of Forestry the builders and QPWS the planners, produced well-rounded Rangers with many skills.
Which parks have you worked in?
In all those 36 years, I worked west of the Great Dividing Range – except at Emerald where the range takes a big kick to the west. With Forestry, I would have worked on the Northern Territory border if it had an office there. I thrive in endless flat, dry, dusty country where life hangs on the anticipation of rain. Working in central and southern Queensland, largely in State forests, I have experienced literally hundreds of reserves.
Where do you work now and what is special about your current park?
I work in the Western Downs in an office based in Dalby. Together with the Taroom base area, I administer about 80 reserves – mainly State forests. I have a couple of favourite reserves which are Barakula and Gurulmundi State forests. I can’t tell you my special secrets about them, otherwise they wouldn’t be ‘secrets’. Needless to say, they are on the Great Dividing Range, have significant cultural and natural values and largely no one is there most of the time.
What is your most memorable moment as a ranger?
My most memorable times as a Ranger has been with fire management and working on the hot, black, pointy edge with good people. Fire has largely been a great friend. Like all good friends and soul mates, there are difficult times and fire can be petulant. The largest, destructive wildfire always has an end. It’s a matter of thinking long, working hard, and looking after the welfare of like-minded people. It is always rewarding celebrating with the crew after long days in smoke and heat.
Can you describe your favourite national parks experience?
My favourite national parks experience has been walking through Sequoia trees on the west coast of the United States of America and watching a pride of lions kill and gorge on a giraffe in Africa. Some of you may have been lucky enough to witness the scale of the scenery in the USA or interact with apex predators in Africa. These experiences are different to those in Australia and were transformational to my understanding of the world. In Queensland, my favourite experience was visiting western parks such as Currawinya and Idalia and dreaming of owning my own 50 000 acres of mulga and mesas.
What is the best part about working in a National Park?
The best thing about working in parks is the cultural and ‘family’ connections that you develop through working on country for extended periods, and through working with some amazingly-talented and knowledgeable people for years, including other rangers, scientists, park neighbours and some of our many stakeholders.
What is the best part about working on the QPWS estate?
QPWS reserves are all different. They lie across the landscape in different shapes and sizes and comprise of a wide range of values. For me, the best part about managing them is trying to make each one relevant to its local community. If local people do not value the reserves, everything is difficult. Owning land comes with obligations and responsibilities. Discharging these duties and bringing people with you is a challenge and requires steadfast dedication.
What is your top tip for visitors to your park?
After many years of amazing service, Martin is retiring, and we want to thank him for all his hard work caring for and protecting our parks and state forests for future generations. As for his retirement plans – “I want to live in a small world and learn how to be time rich. I want to become one with a herd of cattle, protect and give home as many little creatures as possible and enjoy time with my family that I largely missed over the last 36 years.”