Territory Stories

Sunday Territorian 24 Aug 2014



Sunday Territorian 24 Aug 2014


Sunday Territorian; NewspaperNT




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Community newspapers -- Northern Territory -- Darwin.; Australian newspapers -- Northern Territory -- Darwin.

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Nationwide News Pty. Limited

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Copyright. Made available by the publisher under licence.

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Nationwide News Pty. Limited



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SUNDAY AUGUST 24 2014 OPINION 15 V1 - NTNE01Z01MA I have not and will not accept what Tollner has said and done. He is a disgrace KEZIA PURICK The Speaker comments on Dave Tollners homophobic comments made to a CLP staffer If one hears a splash, its like a lunch bell ringing to them GRAHAME WEBB The crocodile expert says culling wont make a difference following a fatal croc attack at Adelaide River Whats wrong with some single women, they dont even comb their hair or have a shower any more DAVID NICHOLS The Palmerston man is having trouble finding a sheila I see the most beautiful women in the world here in Darwin CHRIS CHEUNG The Malak resident debates Mr Nichols idea that the Top End is full of bogan ferals Passion goes with the Territory for rangers Biddlecombe Cascade, part of the Jatbula Trail in Nitmiluk National Park, is right in our Territory backyard how lucky are we? RECENTLY, I did some-thing verging on crazy.I left civilisation to battle the elements in a harsh environment that would make some city people shudder. No, Im not talking about making the trek out to Palmerston Target. Im not that mad. But I did manage to hike 62km through the bush with all my relevant belongings on my back. The Jatbula Trail, from Katherine Gorge to Edith Falls, is five days of blisters, BO and breathtaking scenery. That we live so close to such untouched terrain is a privilege we often take for granted. That our own backyard is filled with such goosebumpworthy backdrops is a blessing. That we can escape our busy everyday lives so easily is so special. Out bush, your biggest problem is running out of things to say to your companions, as there are only so many times you can complain about your sore feet before they consider deserting you. Trekking along spectacular escarpment, swimming at picturesque waterfalls, camping in a quiet place under a sparkling sky is how I wish I could spend all of my weekends in the Territory. And none of it would be possible without those superheroes of the bush park rangers. Beyond the passing casual thought that they must be hot in those uniforms, I must admit Id never really given these guys a whole lot of consideration. But with five days work-free and having already dedicated considerable contemplation to the bacon sandwich I planned to eat at the end of the hike, it came to mind that a rangers job encompasses a vast range of duties far beyond what Id ever realised. This was hammered home when one of our party of five was injured on day four and we had to use one of the emergency call devices dotted along the track. Nitmiluk senior district ranger Andrew McPhee arrived in a helicopter with cold (cold!) water and reassuring words to whisk her away to hospital. The role these guys play is incredibly diverse. From catching crocs to cleaning toilets, they do it all. I had a yarn to Andrew when I got back, and his passion for the 3000sq km in his charge was admirable. It was the job I was always destined to do, he told me. Its a calling. The Nitmiluk rangers havea strong presence in the park, often walking the trails to check the tracks are maintained and meet the people walking them. But we only see a fraction of what they do. In fact, Andrew says visitors have access to just 5 per cent of the park the rest they manage as natural landscape, conserving the flora and fauna. This involves, among other things, fire management, croc monitoring, stamping out illegal hunting, search and rescue, fence line patrols and feral management. Again, Im not talking about Palmerston feral management means pigs, buffalo, donkey, wild cattle and horses. Anything with a hard hoof is an enemy, an environmental bulldozer. They are also currently working on opening up other walks, hopefully by next Dry, which will almost double the trails in Nitmiluk. Despite the hard slog in an often unfriendly climate, Andrew says its the weather that regularly brings about interesting situations and not just dehydrated grey nomads. He talks enthusiastically about a remote lagoon that usually dries up but one year doubled in capacity after a good Wet, becoming a haven for a whole array of birds, including ducks, sea eagles and brolgas. When he and his colleagues went out to survey this unusual occurrence, just on dusk the sky went dark with millions of flying foxes, forming a 1.5km wide, wing tip to wing tip fleet heading north. It took 20 minutes for them all to fly over. At the opposite end of the scale, he tells me he once went to pick up fuel drums after a feral shoot and came across part of the Katherine River that had gone bone dry, even though the gorge was flowing downstream. An older ranger told him that hadnt happened since the 1960s. Theres not a day where you wouldnt stop and go, wow, Andrew says. Were never going to become millionaires doing it. We do it because we love the job. Andrew is not alone in his passion for our parks. He is one of 12 in Nitmiluk, one of more than 100 rangers across the Territory. Were part of the Territory lifestyle that everyone talks about, he says. Were just maintaining that lifestyle in the background. Walking the Jatbula Trail has reminded me why I live here. The Top Ends natural beauty can still take my breath away. Quite simply, the Territory is magic. Thanks to the men and women who work so hard, often behind the scenes, to keep it that way. Follow me on Twitter @KylieMStevenson