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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?
Since 2003 I have worked in Daintree National Park, and in marine parks and island national parks in the Great Barrier Reef Region based out of Magnetic Island. I have also worked for several years as a community Education ranger based in Townsville.
What is your most memorable moment?
The community open day for the Forts Walk on Magnetic Island in 2014. We had worked hard for many years to secure the funding to upgrade this very popular walking experience involving restoration works to the WWII fortifications, rebuilding the original track, and a new and innovative sign and interpretation display.
A highlight was the return of 98-year-old Hugh Ward, the Army Engineer who had originally built the track 70 years earlier. The island and Townsville communities helped us celebrate.
The Forts Walk is more popular than ever, showcasing the dry tropical landscape, WWII cultural heritage, and stunning views of the island and marine park, as well as koalas in the wild.
Can you describe your favourite national parks experience?
Walking in Carnarvon Gorge always reminds me of what an outstanding national park it is. That’s followed closely by hiking the Thorsborne Trail on Hinchinbrook Island.
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 Magnetic Island which is two-thirds 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 hot part of the day if possible.
What is your top tip for campers?
Leave no trace. Leave the site better than it was before.