Jolene Nelson, South Western Parks

Image of Jolene Nelson from South Western parks

Jolene Nelson, South Western parks

Photo credit: Robert Ashdown © Queensland Government

Jolene Nelson, is a Visitor Management Ranger in South West Queensland. 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 25 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 has been extremely rewarding, and I’ve learnt so much.

I’m now part of the South West region technical services team working on various visitor management and educational projects across the region. This role takes things to a whole new level for me, as I have the valuable opportunity to contribute to effective visitor management in our parks and forests across the whole region, as well as encourage positive visitor experiences for those visiting these special places.

Which parks have you worked in?

The best part of my job is that I get to work in a variety of wonderful parks and forests - from rainforests and woodlands, to arid and desert landscapes. I have worked on projects for iconic national parks Girraween, Carnarvon, Currawinya, Bunya Mountains and Main Range national parks, as well as the lesser-known places such as Sundown, Minerva Hills, Hell Hole, Tregole 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, design an interpretive sign or display 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!