Justin O’Connell, Mount Barney National Park

Ranger Justin has dedicated 28 years looking after Mount Barney National Park.

Ranger Justin has dedicated 28 years looking after Mount Barney National Park.

Justin O’Connell is Ranger in Charge, based at Boonah. With 37 years under his belt, Justin has extensive experience in managing natural places.

Which parks have you worked in?

I started with Queensland National Parks and Wildlife Service at the Mt Moffatt section of Carnarvon National Park in 1984. After Mt Moffatt, I worked at Carnarvon Gorge and K’gari (Fraser Island), before moving onto the Beaudesert Works Gang, then across to Green Mountains section of Lamington National Park before moving to the Boonah base in 1993. I currently, manage Mount Barney and Moogerah Peaks national parks.

What is special about your current park?

Mount Barney is an extremely rugged park, the wild remoteness is beautiful. It is home to the Gondwana Rainforests of Australia World Heritage Area that is home to many rare animals, plant species and communities.

What is your most memorable moment as a Ranger?

There have been so many special moments and experiences. The amazing variation in opportunities I’ve had by working in very different natural areas. From the sandstone gorges and cliffs of the Carnarvon ranges to the beaches, perched lakes and coastal vegetation on the largest sand island on the planet, to the sub-tropical rainforests of Lamington and then the rugged peaks and bushwalkers mecca that is Mount Barney—I’ve been a Ranger here now for 28 years, so you could safely say it’s a favourite.

Can you describe your favourite national parks experience?

A highlight for me as a Ranger was the first time I went up in a helicopter to conduct aerial ignition during a prescribed burn at Mount Barney. Being an extremely rugged park accessible only on foot, it gave me a whole new perspective of the park from the air, which not too many people get the chance to experience.

What is your top tip for visitors to your park?

Make sure you choose activities that suit the skills, experience and fitness of your group. Always check the weather before leaving, as mount Barney’s peaks are often in cloud and temperatures can drop suddenly.