Ranger of the month
Chillagoe-Mungana Caves National Park
Brittney Butler is a Park Ranger at Chillagoe-Mungana Caves National Park in north Queensland. She is a young Aboriginal woman with cultural connections to the Yirrganydji people from the Cairns area. Brittney grew up around Chillagoe, camping, fishing and taking advantage of all that the country had to offer. She always had a career as a Park Ranger in the back of her mind, so after studying and working as a beauty therapist for about three years, made the decision to become a Ranger. It took time, but eventually happened!
How long have you worked in national parks?
I started work in Chillagoe-Mungana Caves National Park in April 2015 when I was 19 years old. Moving back to Chillagoe was a pretty big deal for me, because I knew there wouldn’t be many young people my age out here. I have settled in well though.
Which parks have you worked in?
Being based at Chillagoe involves working at nearby parks and camping out. The parks I’ve worked in so far are Staaten River and Errk Oykangand (Mitchell-Alice Rivers) near Kowanyama. I also spent a month working for the Lake Eacham base, and a week down in Rockhampton for a cave guiding school, which was an awesome opportunity. I was able to walk away with some really useful information to share with my work mates once I got home.
What is your most memorable moment?
My most memorable moment so far is crawling into caves with an ornithologist named Mike—a crazy bird person! We were looking for white-rumped swiftlets for a survey. It was definitely a cool experience, being surrounded by hundreds of swiftlets in complete darkness. These little birds are special because they use a kind of echo-location to find their way in the dark, similar to bats. We also witnessed the birds nesting on their single egg. They are very unique birds, with unique nests! They are worth reading more about to understand just how special they are.
Can you describe your favourite national parks experience?
There are hundreds of caves in the Chillagoe area so it’s quite exciting to walk into a ‘new’ cave that you haven’t seen before. But I have to say that our ranger-guided cave tours are the best experience in Chillagoe, and my favourite! The three cave tours that we (Rangers) guide in Donna, Trezkinn and Royal Arch caves, are all spectacular. I highly recommend them!
What is the best part about working in a National Park?
I really enjoy working in a team environment, with colleagues from all age groups and diverse backgrounds. We have ex-tradies on staff, so I appreciate learning what I can from them. We are always doing something different; never stuck doing the same thing for any length of time.
What is your top tip for visitors to parks for bushwalking?
It gets quite hot around Chillagoe, with a mix of humidity and dry heat, so it’s very important to keep up your intake of water. We usually tell visitors that the best time for bushwalking is late in the afternoon, as our walking tracks lead to some great viewpoints for watching sunsets and wildlife, which become active in the cool of the late afternoon.