Jo Petersen, Magnetic Island National Park
Why did you become a ranger?
I think it was always going to happen, given my background growing up in scouting and camping, competency in biology, ecology and manual arts, and strong interest in and love of all things nature and the outdoors. It was a very natural progression for me after university, working in community-based environmental projects and adventure ecotourism. I started as a QPWS volunteer in the Daintree, and never looked back from there. I love my job as a QPWS Marine Parks Ranger, as it brings all my passions together.
Which parks have you worked in?
I started working as a Ranger in Daintree National Park in 2003 and moved to Townsville to work as a Community Education Ranger in 2005. Since 2007 I have had the pleasure of working as a Ranger and Project Officer in the Great Barrier Reef Region. My work has taken me across the reef and many islands, mostly in the North Tropical Coast area as well as a memorable year in the Mackay Whitsundays area.
What is your most memorable moment?
Working in genuine partnership with Traditional Owners to conserve their land and sea country. In recent years QPWS has strengthened relationships with the traditional custodians of the islands and ocean we manage to move forward together in a meaningful and productive way.
With our team, I’m working on some exciting projects with Traditional Owners to capture cultural values, share stories and finally bring the recognition of their country to the forefront of our protected areas.
Can you describe your favourite national parks experience?
I love hiking and exploring in as many different national parks to experience the diversity of the natural environments. From tropical islands, to the snow country of Kosciusko, to towering sandstone cliffs of Carnarvon Gorge, to the wildflowers of western Australia, our country has incredible protected areas.
What is the best part about working in a national park?
I work in Marine Parks. This means we manage both national park islands and marine park, so my work is incredibly diverse—which I love. I am based on Yunbenun, Magnetic Island which is 78% protected area and has a substantial residential population. I thoroughly enjoy working with our community and stakeholders to achieve great outcomes for conservation of our protected areas.
What is your top tip for visitors to parks for bushwalking?
Up this way in Queensland’s north I just can’t emphasise enough the importance of having adequate water, footwear and sun protection when walking in the summer months. Avoid the hottest part of the day if possible and avoid walking in the heat at all if you cannot handle it. Be aware of your own limitations and take responsibility for your own safety.
What is your top tip for campers?
Book ahead. Leave no trace. Leave the site better than it was before.