Meet young Yunbenun Land and Sea Ranger, Hayden
Growing up, at school, Hayden said that ‘Ranger work never really popped up in my mind to be honest’ but he knew he didn’t really want to do a job that was indoors all the time.
‘I feel more alive, more energised doing work outside.’
However, when looking for a job nearly 2 years ago, his mum and grandmother showed him an ad for a recently established Yunbenun Land and Sea Ranger position—‘I looked at the job description and saw there was a whole lot more to being a Ranger than what I thought and that got me interested.
‘In our language we call Magnetic Island Yunbenun. Working on Yunbenun, part of Wulgurukaba land, taking care of my families traditional Country really drew me to this Ranger job. It’s been a great opportunity to work on Country, learn more about Country, and how to take care of it.’
The Yunbenun Advisory Group, made up of Wulgurukaba Elders and Traditional Owners, and Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS) Marine Park Rangers work closely together on several projects on Country. In fact, it was through this advisory group that the Yunbenun Land and Sea Ranger program was first established around 2 years ago.
‘We're all looking after the key values that we have set up from our management plan for Magnetic Island. We get a better point of view and perspective, having Traditional Owner Rangers working closely alongside QPWS Rangers. I feel like there has been more of a better understanding. You get more respect between each other.
‘Working as a partnership, we're bouncing ideas off each other, from a Traditional Owner point of view, especially working in our own Country, but also talking with and learning from the more experienced QPWS Rangers that've been working here for years. Like Senior Ranger Patrick, he’s been working here for over 26 years or so and he has a vast knowledge.’
Having only worked for 2 years, Ranger Hayden has already learnt so much.
‘There’s a whole lot of variety of things we work on—from natural resource management, where you get to learn a lot about the different weeds and how to stop them taking over our native plants to learning how to maintain our native species by encouraging growth, doing our planned burns. Also looking after critical infrastructures in the national parks, including toilets, shelters and lookouts; carrying out inspections and reporting any safety issues to your supervisor.
There's always something that I can learn while working as a Ranger here on the island.’
Ranger Hayden has also had the opportunity to work in QPWS Ranger roles too, working all along the North Queensland tropical coast—as far as up Dunk Island and down to Cape Upstart.
‘I get to visit all these different islands, asking permission from other Traditional Owner groups that we can work on their land and alongside them as well. Visiting all these other islands, like Hinchinbrook Island or Dunk Island, that I wouldn’t have gotten to before, and I’m getting paid to go there for work now—that’s been a highlight.
‘It's been an exciting experience so far and I'm definitely enjoying working here as a Ranger. It’s something that I can see myself working in for years to come.’
Ranger Hayden’s tips for any young people considering a job as a Ranger:
‘Go for any opportunities that you have and if there’s no opportunities, make them. Ask your school career department or your local Ranger base about any work placements or volunteer work you could do. The more experience you can build up while you’re in school the better—consider completing a TAFE course in conservation and land management while you’re still in school.’
If you’re a young person that doesn’t have a good idea of what they’re going to be doing after school, that’s ok—Hayden says ‘think about what type of job might suit you and the sort of learning experience that helps you. You could be surprised, like me, and find there’s a whole lot more to a job then you’d expect.’
‘Learning about trees and plants indoors in the classroom, I never enjoyed that much. But now as a Ranger, I take it on so much more in the field, actually seeing it, being there, remembering their characteristics, observing the seasons it goes through. I learn it more because I’m working on the land, asking the questions on the spot.’
And for those of you thinking of visiting the beautiful island in North Queensland that is Yunbenun (Magnetic Island), Ranger Hayden has some great tips:
‘Keep hydrated, take breaks and cool down under the shade. You'd be surprised how many people go up tracks on the island not bringing enough water with them. All of the beaches in the national park don’t have drinking water on tap, so make sure you bring enough water with you.
‘Be prepared, taking in as much information as you can from our website and signs before you go on the walking tracks.
‘Stick to the tracks. If you go off-track, you could be walking or stepping on a plant that's non-native and unknowingly spreading that seed.’
And finally, ‘if you see one of us Rangers, never be too shy to have a chat, we’re always happy to answer any questions.’
Thanks Ranger Hayden!