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Danger Ranger Diaries

Read on for updates from the field, preparation progress and entertaining fails as we count down to World Ranger Day, July 31, 2022

Toonumbar National Park, lagoon, rainforest, world heritage
An amazing lagoon we discovered during our beetle hunt. Part of the Gondwana Rainforests of Australia World Heritage Site.

Sleep! Gosh but it was nice to finally reduce the sleep deficit this week (I’ll admit only slightly). The mammoth effort of website building and expedition emails combined with acting in the team leader gig for over a month did somewhat render all conversations and meetings soporific in effect. Good thing my chef days taught me how to be a productive zombie, albeit a surly and slightly intolerant one.

Fatigue aside, it’s been a blast post acting-as-the-big-cheese as I could finally escape the computer (aka The Black Pearl, as I call my sit-stand-desk with dual screen workstation) and get back out on park to play in the mud and rain.

Last week I got to go full science geek when a colleague and I had the opportunity to accompany a rather legendary entomologist to hunt a rare, ancient and elusive dung beetle discovered in one of my parks just last year. Yes, it all sounds very ‘Indiana Jones’ until you read the words dung beetle. Really though, they are pretty cool as dung beetles go being a primitive species of the Labroma genus of which only three other species have been described. Relatively large compared to most local dung beetles, this species is also flightless which is uncommon for these critters and to some extent explains why it has remained hidden for so long.

dung beetle, Labroma
Our elusive dung beetle. A primitive as yet undescribed species of the Labroma genus. A rather good looking fella.

Beatific is how I would describe the smile on the entomologist’s face when we managed to catch no less than five more specimens to bring the total known individuals in existence to six. Beaming with equal excitement and enthusiasm, my fellow ranger and I hung on the expert bug hunters every word as he recounted amazing tales of dung beetles that make their own dung (I know right) and others that crawl up large trees seeking bat guano in the bottom of hollowed out tree trunks. He also explained that these critters practically wait on tail and foot for first dibs on…well the nourishment to which they are so inclined. It’s certainly not for everyone!

That said, many of the dung beetle species found in Australian tropical and sub-tropical rainforests are endemic and a little bit special as they are often general foragers, being partial to the odd bit of fruit or fungi in addition to…the other stuff. We were even using pieces of pineapple in the baits, so we do share some food preferences with them!

As you can tell, the outing certainly re-kindled the enthusiasm and was balm to the stress of deadlines and paperwork which had felt a little suffocating in recent weeks. Mud covered, mozzie bitten and grinning like a fool, it was a triumphant return to the office for the afternoon email-wading endeavour. Other notable moments of the past couple of weeks include battling with fuel assessment apps for hazard reduction burn planning field trips and meetings with our first official volunteer group for the area, all rather exciting and wonderfully away from the curse of The Black Pearl.

Now, in DRD #1 I did say that I was going to elaborate on how one might get involved in, or help, with Walking the Thin Green Line Oceania. Upon reflection I felt it would be best to spread this out over a few blogs and focus on one thing at a time, very unlike me!

First cab of the rank – Rangers and protected area workers!

There are so many great opportunities to contribute, support and join in the fun and shenanigans. Here are just a few to get you thinking.

  1. Dob in a colleague – on average we may not be the shy and retiring types, but we all know a few unsung heroes who quietly get on with doing an amazing job and deserve to have their stories told. Not to mention there are some true characters amongst us who light up the workplace and would be great to have on camera if only to show the broad mix of personalities that make up our large and eclectic Ranger family. If you know someone who I simply must have a chat to on the expedition please get in touch and drop me their name, location and the best way to contact them or their supervisor to line up a chat.

  2. Tell your story – If you yourself have an interesting tale to tell and would love to showcase your park or team then drop me a line or flick me an email and we can work out the best way to catch up. Even if you are unsure, we can always have a yarn on the phone and you can then work out if you would like to be involved in this way.

  3. Join me on a hike – I need to cover more than 1500 kilometres during the trip so having some company would be brilliant. If you look after a park with a choice trail or know a trail you would like to join me on, in your park or not, then let me know. Just flick me an email with location, distance etc and any other relevant information then we can work things out from there.

  4. Join me on the road – I would love to have some rangers come along for sections of the trip to keep me company at campsites, share in the fun of exploring new parks and to spend time with fellow colleagues. You will need to BYO vehicle and camping gear but I’m sure this is actually best for most people so they can come and go as their schedules permit. Again, drop me a line or flick me an email and we can compare schedules and options.

  5. Join the support crew – you all have great skills from working in operations, managing projects and just doing your day to day work so why not lend your skills to the expedition!

    • I don’t yet have someone to help coordinate the hikes so if you are keen, I would be eternally grateful

    • Help in coordinating with agencies such a media teams, interps/visitor services/education teams and volunteer managers would be amazing

    • Videographers and content creators who can serve as additional camera operators and photographers would also be wonderful.

Well, I think that’s quite enough from me. Effusive as always. The next exciting instalment will be full of expedition updates following my week down in Melbourne when I finally get to catch up with the Thin Green Line Foundation team and other wonderful expedition partners!

Hopefully you enjoyed the read and it served as an escape or enjoyable moment away from the news of the day. Before I sign off, please give your thoughts to the Argentinian Rangers battling intense wildfires and my Ukrainian colleagues for the dangers and challenges they are now facing in their homeland.


Danger Ranger

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In expedition terms, 6 months is basically the final tweaking stage when you are fine tuning your fitness, taking stock of equipment (which you've mostly already purchased) and finalising logistics and schedules which are all but locked in.

This would be an important moment to mention that Rangers are really good at doing things last minute, making projects happen with minimal resources and just getting things done, basically.

I'll leave you to bridge the gap between those two statements where you'll find my current reality (*face palm*).

Photo from the top of Mount Exmouth in Warrumbungles National Park NSW, hiking, walking the Thin Green Line
Top of Mount Exmouth, Warrumbungles National Park

Walking the Thin Green Line Oceania has been a rather long time in the making. The original idea bobbing to the top of the think tank back in late 2020 whilst I was driving back home following a visit with the parents. Yes, well spotted, that means I'm a wonderfully attentive much so that my mind can wander to other seemingly more important thoughts like crazy adventures and changing the world.

The idea has been shaped and moulded by over 12 months of catch-ups, cake dates and quality gossip with fellow rangers, Thin Green Line Foundation (TGLF) staff, family and friends. Not to mention some wonderfully supportive (and equally crazy) professionals across the film, photography, science and education industries.

Obviously, the realities of the world as we know it in January 2022 and what that means for travel, health and safety, mental wellbeing and emotional exhaustion, have also played a huge part in shaping the expedition and further reinforcing the importance of it's goals.

South Australian Ranger Association, park rangers, Annual Migration 2018, Calperum Station
South Australian Ranger Association's Annual Migration 2017 @ Calperum Station

I'm now (somehow) at the helm of a terrifyingly huge endeavour, with just 6 months left till my boots hit the trail and and this crazy expedition begins. I'll admit there has been some impressive procrastination and avoidance exploits when facing emails, grant applications and website design after a long day at work. This website and blog were meant to have been published last month, for example.

But just as all good things come to an end, so too do well learnt habits from tertiary education. Especially when you realise that your crazy idea is actually going to happen...and that you need to apply for your leave without pay, and sell the belongings you don't need, and find foster homes for your thankfully resilient indoor plants get the picture.

It is exciting times with the website and first blog (finally) published, the social media accounts about to be kicked off, and my first face to face visit with the TGLF crew actually happening in just two weeks time. I have already had some great chats with Rangers whilst route planning that have left me absolutely buzzing with excitement for what we will all see, hear and experience during the expedition. I can't wait for you to meet some of the living legends we are privileged to call our own in Oceania and to show you the truly breath taking parks, ecosystems and animals that Rangers protect.

Lennox Head, Walking the Thin Green Line, Pandanas, ocean
Coastal walk to Lennox National Surfing Reserve

It may be all about anticipation (just ask Frank N. Furter), but fear not dear readers, over the next 6 months you will be thoroughly entertained by my attempts to learn film making, social media influencing and public speaking (whilst still working full time as a ranger) as we count down to July 31. You will be a fly on the wall to all the fun, fails and frivolity that goes with learning a new trade and planning an expedition. So sit back, or lean forward with terrible posture till you're 2 inches off your phone, and enjoy what should be a cracking good adventure.

Hopefully you've found my first blog sufficiently fun and informative...if not maybe stick to the Instagram posts, then you can just look at the pretty pictures.

Stay tuned for my next blatheringly wonderful post about how to help, get involved and contribute to Walking the Thin Green Line Oceania.


Danger Ranger

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The Walking the Thin Green Line Oceania team recognise all the First Nations and Indigenous peoples across our earth, and recognise their living traditions of caring for lands and waters through Elders past, present and emerging.  

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