Jolene McLellan, South Western Parks
Jolene McLellan is a Visitor Management Ranger in Queensland’s south west. She became a park ranger because she decided early on that she wanted to do something worthwhile with her life, and she had a strong desire to protect nature.
How long have you worked in national parks?
For the last 23 years I have worked as a ranger based in one of Queensland’s iconic national parks— Girraween. Helping to manage this very popular national park, maintaining services and facilities for over 100,000 annual visitors, conducting fire management programs across 11,800 hectares of protected area, developing wildlife conservation programs, as well as working on various visitor management and educational projects across the South West Region, is all part of my job description.
Which parks have you worked in?
While most of my time has been on Girraween, these days I work on various visitor management projects throughout the South West including Girraween, Carnarvon, Currawinya, Minerva Hills, Bunya Mountains, Main Range, Sundown and Crows Nest national parks.
What is your most memorable moment?
Nature is unpredictable and continually amazes me. Although I’ve had many memorable experiences in various parks, I will have to say my one and only close encounter with a common wombat in Girraween National Park takes the cake. Not many people get to see these elusive creatures in Queensland. It was a very special moment.
Can you describe your favourite national parks experience?
Nature soothes the soul. As soon as I enter any natural area I feel my worries subside. I do love a clear night sky too, so camping under the stars in one of our western Queensland national parks is pretty magic.
What is the best part about working in a national park?
My job is never boring! Where else do you get to participate in a controlled burn, check remote cameras for wombat activity, design an interpretive sign or brochure for an iconic park, conduct a television interview, talk to a group of students, or travel to beautiful national parks working on projects enhancing visitor experiences? I know I’m lucky to have such a fascinating and satisfying job, and I thank my lucky stars that I’m doing something worthwhile.
What is your top tip for visitors to parks for bushwalking?
Whether you venture alone, or with family or friends, use the opportunity of visiting a national park to recharge your batteries, connect with yourself or your loved ones, and ensure you leave enough time to delight in the simple pleasures. Be sure to pack lots of water and healthy snacks.
What is your top tip for campers?
Leave technology at home and simply enjoy your nature escape. Keep in mind that venturing outdoors can be unpredictable, so do your research and be prepared. After all, you want your visit to be memorable for all the right reasons! Oh, and pack the marshmallows!