What do Park Rangers do when they retire?
Like many previous park rangers, Chris Arthur has continued caring for Tasmania’s wild places in a voluntary capacity post retirement. He volunteers with Friends of Fisher Island, SPRATS (Sea spurge Remote Area Teams) and has spent time as a volunteer caretaker on Deal Island. Here’s a snapshot of what he’s been up to lately.
Photos and text by Chris Arthur.
Life as a volunteer
Over the last 12 months my partner Irene and I have undertaken many volunteer hours for the Parks and Wildlife Service and Wildcare.
After the highs and lows of a career of 30 plus years in the PWS, we have continued trying to assist our environment in Tasmania and undertaken volunteering opportunities during winter on Deal Island and on Lana (Georges Rocks) off larapuna (Eddystone Pt).
In January, we volunteered with SPRATS – sea kayaking around Macquarie Harbour checking for Sea Spurge (Euphorbia paralis) and Marram Grass, and also found blackberries at a number of sites on the Gordon River and Macquarie Harbour.
Irene and I spent 3 months over winter as caretakers on the island where we:
- managed the veggie garden and houses
- mowed the airstrip and large compound,
- spent many hours excluding Rattus norvegicus from both of the houses occupied by both volunteers and caretakers and,
- undertook weeding of sea spurge, death lilies, and horehound.
I spent time re-pointing the caretaker’s house as the brickwork was extensively fretting and bricks were falling out. Things to consider when repointing the house were finding and leaving gaps for the skinks to escape from winter quarters in the walls! The house started life as a prefab house where brick walls were added later when the flat roof and walls were no longer stopping the wind and rain.
Following a fire in the 1990s, the structure of the light tower was very fragile and the glass in the lighthouse was cracked, so I undertook repairs with glass and silicon to try and seal out the rain.
Friends of Fisher Island – at lana (Georges Rocks)
Following our 2019 efforts in assisting to remove Norwegian Ship Rat (Rattus norvegicus), we have worked to remove significant infestations of Mirror Bush (Coprosma repens) at larapuna, Eddystone Pt.
As with other islands and islets in Bass Strait, the biggest sleeping threat on Georges Rocks is Mirror Bush. The 4ha of Georges Rocks was 80% percent covered by this plant up to 8m high.
The initial knockdown of all those plants has happened but the hard work now starts with seedling removal and management of small regrowth. This is a project that is pivotal for sea birds breeding and renewing habitat. We have just spent 9 days removing seedlings and regrowth from a crucial breeding habitat for terns on the island.
Find out more about the Friends of Fisher Island here.
During a sea kayak trip with my mate, Jim Gandy checking for sea surge and marram grass, we also found
significant amounts of blackberries on the Gordon River at old Hydro sites i.e. Eagle Creek, drill sites above the confluence of the Franklin and Gordon Rivers, as well as at the old townships at East and West Pillinger.
To find out more about SPRAT’s (the adventure volunteers cracking down on sea spurge in the remote beaches of the west coast of Tassie) visit their page here.
I would like to thank my partner Irene who shares most of our volunteering adventures, as well as my long term mate, Jim Gandy who is the navigator and inspiration for our kayaking trips.
I would also like to thank the Parks and Wildlife staff and NRE staff for putting up with the hairy (and sometimes grumpy) one, when they talk bureaucratic speak that I cannot believe is true and I’d like to acknowledge all the laughs and the volunteers I have worked with – Thanks all.