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Ranger James swaps the SA Outback for Tassie’s lush Cradle Mountain

Exchanging the harsh dry of the South Australian Outback for the snow-covered peaks of Tasmania’s Cradle Mountain couldn’t be much more of a contrast.

Ranger James swaps the SA Outback for Tassie’s lush Cradle Mountain

But that’s the reality facing James Tomlinson, a park ranger with National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS), who later this year will be the first participant in a new ranger exchange program between SA and our friends on the Apple Isle.

The program will be an annual exchange, providing participating rangers a unique opportunity to develop their park management skills in specific growth areas they have identified an interest in.

James has been selected for an 8-week placement with the Tasmania Parks and Wildlife Service working in Cradle Mountain National Park. In return, a graduate ranger from Tasmania will come to South Australia and be hosted by the Eyre and Far West region.

Currently based in Oraparinna, James works throughout the Flinders and Outback region, an environment he says is rugged and harsh, yet beautiful.

“The longer you spend here the more you appreciate its diversity and culture. It’s amazing how a landscape that has taken millions of years to evolve can change so dramatically with a small amount of rainfall,” he said.

Tasmania is also unique with large expanses of awe-inspiring, diverse, beautiful and wild national parks and reserves, with a significant area listed under UNESCO World Heritage. The extensive temperate rainforests and coastlines are in stark contrast to the semi-arid environment of the Northern Flinders Ranges I currently work in.

“I am excited to experience and explore that contrast firsthand and gain valuable knowledge from Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife Service and the local community.

“The ability to step back and observe different ways of doing things can create efficiencies, improve safety, and allow for better communication and learning among colleagues. As areas in the Northern Flinders Ranges have been nominated for World Heritage status, I am interested to learn what some of the impacts/challenges are and how these can be managed if the Northern Flinders bid is successful.

“I remember a paper I wrote during my first year at university on the takayna/Tarkine (rainforest) and how amazing it was, which I now see as a pivotal moment in sparking my passion for the environment and a driver for my career as a park ranger. Now I will get to experience that environment personally.”

Ranger James swaps the SA Outback for Tassie’s lush Cradle Mountain

Cradle Mountain National Park is a key part of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area and is synonymous with nature, wilderness and all things pristine.

Wildlife can be found in abundance within the national park, with opportunities to encounter Tasmanian devils, quolls, platypus, echidna, wombats and the highly inquisitive black currawong.

Likewise, SA’s national parks offer an extremely diverse environment for the Tasmanian rangers to develop their knowledge of park management.

Executive Director National Parks and Wildlife Service Mike Williams said the exchange was an exciting opportunity for rangers to grow their experiences and knowledge of park management in a completely different environment.

“The diversity in landscapes across South Australia and Tasmania offers vast learning opportunities for the rangers, which we want them to fully grasp and bring those experiences back to their home states and regions,” Mr Williams said.

“South Australia has nature like nowhere else, and we want to share it with our Tasmanian colleagues. We have more than 360 parks covering a fifth of our state, and a network of 19 marine parks covering nearly half of our marine waters, so the opportunities for learning are endless.”