First, we speak about the management of the NP and Reserve.
Like in many other National Parks from the Peninsula, the traditional owners of the land, are regularly consulted in relation to park management activities. Here, they are the Atambaya, Angkamuthi, Yadhaykenu, Gudang and Wuthati people.
And what about your office at the ranger base?
Peter is in charge and works with only ONE colleague, Leigh! That means only 2 people operate over 500 000 ha!! They’d better share their duties and territory, you can imagine how lonely this must be some days!
So what is so special about this land?
Peter explains to us that this is one of the most remote area in the whole country. As a consequence, the environment is virgin, the water is pristine and the bush is intact. To give you an idea, there are only 3 tracks (accessible per 4WD only) along more than 150 km of coastline! And these tracks are well hidden in the bush. His daily routine is to drive for hours on the few rough tracks to go to work, but he is used to that and he loves this pure nature.
But you may ask, why this is still so remote, I mean even nowadays?
Early European explorers tried to settle down and develop the area but the absence of food for horses made them leave…later on, some stockmen tried to bring and establish cattle up here but this was a big failure. The climate is tough (humid and warm), the soil is poor but the water is abundant…the region had been called “the wet desert”..!
And then, what is your job like, Peter? And why you like it?
Peter loves his job, this makes no doubt! We can all see and feel his motivation when he talks to us. Passionate about his work, we are all delighted to listen to him.
“It’s a great experience to live here and manage such a vast and beautiful area. Part of my job is to meet and talk to people, such as tourists camping in the NP, kids in school or also as part of the program Connect with Nature. I really enjoy this exchange” Peter says. This program offers through different types of activities a connection, understanding and appreciation for natural areas.
In addition, he likes what he does for a living because the rangers bring a real touristic value of the land. Without their work, the whole region wouldn’t be so attractive to people. Indeed they build and maintain facilities (picnic tables, toilets, bush walks etc) but also because fire management contributes to the diversity of the land.
What is fire management about? How does it work?
Why planning burns throughout the year?
Fire management looks for good ecological outcomes. It aims to conserve the vegetation, not to lose diversity and to offer a good balance to the animals living there. The Aboriginals used to plan burns as well in order to preserve their lands, create some tracks into the dense rainforest, or to hunt too.
Let's chat with Peter about his job
#2 Meeting with Peter Dellow
Ranger in Charge for QPWS
Tonight we camp at the magical Eliot Falls. Once we are all settled and after a refreshing bath in the pristine clear water, we meet Peter.
He is the ranger in charge at the Jardine River NP & Heathland Resources Reserve (more info here). We go for a walk around the reserve.
Sitting in front of the wonderful falls, he speaks about some interesting facts about the National Park (NP) and Resources Reserve, what makes this place so special and what is his job about.
I met Peter during my trip in Cape York, video, photos, article by clicking below:
How is this organized?
* The NP and protected areas are divided into “zones”:
Here at the Jardine River NP & Heathland Resources Reserve, 4 zones:
Conservation zone: +/- 90 % of the territory: a vast wilderness area. Burning to help promoting the diversity of plants. Ecological health is key.
Protection zone: +/- 1,5 % : burning on a regular basis for avoiding hot fire: public safety is preoccupation number 1. People live there and visitors move around. All is about life and property here.
Rehabilitation zone: 0.5 % : recovering zone: fire exclusion for a short-term period.
Exclusion zone: +/- 8 % : fire prohibited. E.g: Shelburne Bay: a dynamical environment with big sand dunes constantly moving, burning could change the natural evolution, so forbidden.
* Burns are managed from the air (plane): the area is too vast, fires can’t be done and controlled from the ground.
* Decisions are made thanks to a monitoring program: the rangers use satellite data. They look for the previous year data to decide where the priorities are. Key indicators
are humidity, temperatures, pressure and wind strength.
The moment of the day to start the fire is calculated in a
scientifically way. However observing the plants around
is also important, they are good indicators too.
Speaking of which, what are typical plants living in the NP?
Peter takes a big bag and starts to introduce us to many species of plants, coming from the Heath.
Magical and impressive Nature
* “Tooth brush”: you can lick it, it’s sweet
* “Cocky apple”: (Planchonia careya): used by the Indigenous to catch fish in the river. Moving them above the water attracts fish, practical!
* “Soap Tree” (Alphitonia excelsea): natural soap, it’s perfect to wash your hands in the nature. Just take some leaves in your hands, add water and rub.
* “Sandpaper Fig” (Ficus opposita): eatable fig and the leaves are perfect to polish tools, used by the Aborigines for the boomerang for example.
* “Pitcher Plant” (Nepenthes mirabilis): carnivorous plant, it attracts and digests many insects. It loves it here because it nourishes from the invertebrates not from the soil.