#4 Meeting with an island caretaker Ben Solowiej
Marine Park Ranger on Green Island
Today, I explore Green Island, a tiny sand cay island with rainforest: beautiful.
First island to be listed as a National Park. A marine park also surrounds the island to protect the reef all around it.
On this little paradise lives and works Ben as a Marine Park Ranger.
As he shows me around his backyard, I want to know more about his dream life!
Firstly, how did you get this wonderful position?
This is not my first job haha! I studied Conservation and Land Management first and then I started to work for QPWS* in 2000 on marine parks permits, where I was trained by the Marine rangers. I learnt a lot for 12 years, and worked in very different NP (from the Outback to the Gold Coast. Finally, I got here on Green Island in April this year.
What’s your daily work like?
A part of my job is focused on park management (maintaining and building new boardwalks, infrastructures etc), making the NP safe and enjoyable for the tourists. Then, I also have an important educational part, talking to the people, explaining to them why they can’t do that, take this etc). At the moment, I’m quite busy dealing with sand erosion problems and have to ship some sand around to fortify the island. As we are on a very touristic destination, I can’t do that on day time.
How is like living on an idyllic island?
What’s the best here?
Apart from the beauty of the place, I would say that having my little family close. In the Outback, I wasn’t living with my wife (shift timetable), now we’ve got two girls and it’s great to be with them for lunch!
But on the other side, I live on my working place…I kind of never switch off!
Any special anecdote?
Here I got to see a lot…this island has over 300 000 visitors a year! I remember one day, a Japanese tourist went out of the sea, he was holding a big coral…I asked me what he was doing?!? He simply answered that he wanted to throw the coral away because he hurt himself. It was dangerous and as a consequence needed to be removed! Was a big story to explain to him that this was actually not possible!
Do you miss anything here?
For sure, it’s a different way of life and with its inconvenient. For example you can’t just go shopping when you want or need something…by the time you get it you are over it! We shop online and get a delivery per week…Better be organized!
On a small island like this, it’s important to be self-sufficient. We make our own bread for example.