Carly Smith, Idalia National Park
Carly Smith is a Ranger at Idalia National Park in the Central West region of Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS). She was a full-time (Army) reservist when she was advised to ‘get serious and find a long-term career’. This was around the time that Cyclone Larry had hit the north Queensland coast and QPWS was offering traineeships at Cardwell and Cape York Peninsula. She applied for both, and was selected for the Cardwell position.
How long have you worked in national parks?
Fourteen years! I started in 2006.
Which parks have you worked in?
I’ve worked in a few…
I started in QPWS Cardwell office and worked in all the nearby parks and state forests including Cardwell State Forest, Tully Gorge NP, Murray Falls and Edmund Kennedy sections of Girramay NP and Blencoe Falls, Girringun NP. I also jumped on the boat and worked with the marine park rangers on Hinchinbrook Island NP and Dunk Island, in the Family Islands NP.
Then it was off to ‘The Cape’, where I worked at Mungkan Kandju NP, as it was known when I was there; it later changed to Oyala Thumotang NP (CYPAL). I also worked at Rinyirru (Lakefield) NP (CYPAL) and in other nearby parks including Cape Melville NP and Jack River NP.
I’ve taken the opportunity to work in relieving positions in Kutini-Payamu (Iron Range) NP, and at the Princess Hills office which included Princess Hills NP, Blencoe Falls and the recently-purchased Wairuna station, before it became Girringun NP. I’ve also worked out of the Clermont office on Nairana and Cudmore NPs and Epping Forest NP (Scientific).
Then I worked at Boodjamulla (Lawn Hill) National Park, and did the odd job down at Camooweal Caves National Park.
I am currently based out at Idalia National Park, part of the Cooper Catchment Management Unit. I have also worked out at Welford National Park and Lochern National Park, part of the same management unit.
What is your most memorable moment?
I have been lucky enough to have quite a few, so it is hard to choose, but I suppose you can never beat enjoying a wet season thunder storm while sitting back watching it roll in and then…CRACK!!
Can you describe your favourite national parks experience?
Again I have so many to choose from, but I have to say it is currently a tie between looking for and spotting a small family (mum, dad and bub) of yellow-footed rock-wallabies at Bullock Gorge and seeing the sunset at Little Red, a sand dune located on the desert drive at Welford National Park.
What is the best part about working in a National Park?
For me the best part is the lifestyle that I get to lead and the rangers I get to work with and live with in remote areas. I have had a great opportunity to work and live in some of the most spectacular and remote parts of Queensland; and work and live with some great rangers…and those experiences will stay with me forever.
What is your top tip for visitors to parks?
Sometimes to really appreciate and experience things you just need to stop, wait and watch. You will be amazed at how many animals and other things you will see. If you are quiet and patient enough, you might even catch a glimpse of our yellow-footed rock-wallabies at Bullock Gorge!
What is your top tip for campers?
Don’t be in a rush to get somewhere! Some of the best spots, like Idalia, Welford and Lochern national parks, can be found a bit out of your way and off the main road. But they are so worth it!