Doug Davidson, Chillagoe-Mungana Caves National Park
Doug Davidson, ranger at Chillagoe-Mungana Caves National Park in the Dry Tropics of Far North Queensland, wanted to be a Ranger when he was 12 years old. A work experience stint during high school with NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) confirmed his passion and he went on to study Environmental Science.
How long have you worked in national parks?
I have worked in Queensland’s national parks since 2008. I have always been interested in wildlife and I thought, ‘what better way to make a living than being outdoors, protecting the natural environment and experiencing some amazing places?’
Which parks have you worked in?
In NSW, I was based in Glen Innes as a Discovery Ranger; and I also worked on track building projects in Washpool, Gibraltar Range and Bald Rock national parks.
In Queensland’s national parks, my work has taken me to Staaten River National Park, Palmer Goldfields Resources Reserve and Errk Oykangand National Park (CYPAL). I’ve also worked out at Undara, 40 Mile Scrub and Bulleringa national parks. Most recently I spent four years at Rinyirru (Lakefield) National Park (CYPAL).
What is your most memorable moment?
I think taking part in remote surveys around far north Queensland is very special. We travel in helicopters, landing in unspoiled natural ecosystems and camp for a week or so, documenting wildlife, especially rare and threatened species. We have to be totally self-sufficient, carrying everything we need in a backpack.
Can you describe your favourite national parks experience?
It would have to be exploring the Royal Arch Cave at Chillagoe–Mungana Caves National Park. It is a large limestone cave system that features spectacular formations and huge echoing chambers, that is home to a wide range of fauna. Leading the public through the cave on a ranger-guided cave tour never actually felt like ‘work’.
What is the best part about working in a national park?
I get to see rare animals in their natural habitats. These sightings are exciting but also justify the effort we put into pest management and give a sense of satisfaction that we are protecting wildlife for future generations. I am also lucky because I not only work but also live in a national park—even on my days off I see amazing things!
What is your top tip for visitors to parks for bushwalking?
Take your time. Most people rush to get to the end or the highlight of the walk and miss so much along the way. Walk slowly and quietly and you will appreciate so much more.
What is your top tip for campers?
Be prepared. A little bit of research into where you are going can make a big difference to how much you enjoy the experience (or not!). Know the conditions of the roads you will be driving on and check that you have a suitable vehicle and equipment. When travelling remotely, take that extra bit of food and water ‘just in case’ and make sure your camping permits are booked in advance.