Ranger of the month
Boyd Blackman is a Park Ranger in Great Sandy National Park. Boyd is a Butchulla man—the Butchulla people are the Aboriginal Traditional Owners of K’gari (Fraser Island). Boyd holds an identified Indigenous Ranger position and his passion is for his culture. Boyd’s aim is to bring cultural awareness and understanding into QPWS and to look after our natural landscapes and sea country in his dual role of Park Ranger and Traditional Custodian. Boyd strongly believes that ‘what is good for the land must come first’.
How long have you worked in national parks?
I was first given the opportunity to work as a Cultural Heritage Ranger about 27 years ago in Mount Isa. It was a proud moment for me, as an Aboriginal person, to be given the trust of the Elders of the area. From there, I moved into a Park Ranger position with Queensland National Parks and Wildlife Service. My aim was to bring to the organisation a better understanding of Aboriginal cultural practices and perspectives for the protection of cultural sites, and to work as part of a dedicated team of QPWS Rangers.
Which parks have you worked in?
Firstly, I worked in the north-west of the state at Boodjamulla (Lawn Hill Gorge) National Park, and around the Mount Isa region. Then I moved to the south-east and worked at K’gari (Fraser Island) in Great Sandy National Park. I’ve also been based at Bribie Island National Park, and around the Moreton Bay region. I have now moved back to work at K’gari (Fraser Island), in the Coastal and Islands region. This is my traditional country.
What is your most memorable moment?
My most memorable moment was receiving an Excellence Award from the Minister at the time, MP Dr. Steven Miles. My award was in the category, Excellence in Leadership, in recognition of my work towards ‘closing the gap’.
Can you describe your favourite national parks experience?
One of my favorite national park experiences is walking through the lush rainforest on K’gari (Fraser Island). I especially enjoy The Valley of Giants where huge turpentine trees tower above you—but this is a remote part of the island and can be hard to access. I also love all the freshwater lakes. Fraser Island is the world’s largest sand island and has incredible freshwater lakes, like Lake Boomanjin, the largest perched lake in the world, and Lake Wabby, the island’s deepest lake.
My other favourite spots are at Boodjamulla (Lawn Hill Gorge) where Lawn Hill Creek flows through a steep lush gorge that cuts through the dry savannah landscape.
What is the best part about working in a National Park?
The thing I like best about working in a national park is being able to show my fellow Park Rangers, first-hand, that having spiritual connection to land and country helps in being the ‘cultural custodians’ of our protected areas. Working as a Park Ranger on K’gari allows me to keep in touch with my culture and connection to land and country.
What is your top tip for visitors to parks for bushwalking?
I always say, ‘Take only photos and leave only footprints behind’, and of course, ‘take time and connect to the country!’
What is your top tip for campers?
My advice to visitors who are considering camping in national parks is that ‘your backyard does not end at your mailbox. All of Australia, including our national parks, is our backyard and it’s up to all of us to look after our country’.