A ranger relay to raise funds for Timor Leste’s only national park, Nino Konis Santana National Park is now on the home stretch with the final walking leg of the South Coast Track underway.
Paddlers at Scotts Pk Jeremy Hood, Darren Emmett, Brendan Moodie, Mark Pharaoh, Ben Correy, Nicko Hewenn at Scotts Peak end of leg
The relay by the Tasmanian Ranger Association with support from the Tasmania Parks and Wildlife Service (PWS) started at Penguin in Tasmania’s north-west coast on October 9 and is expected to finish up at Cockle Creek on Monday 8 November. The relay, which is 525 kilometres, involves walking, biking and kayaking primarily through the Tasmanian Wilderness Heritage Area.
The relay team is aiming to raise $25 000 to purchase motorcycles and basic equipment for the national park, including backpacks and first aid kits, as well as motorcycles which are currently beyond repair.
Donations have recently passed $18 000.
Michael Febey during the Ranger Relay
Participant of the ranger relay for the middle roads section of the relay, PWS’s Michael Febey said it is good to see people donating to this cause.
“It has been great to see donations coming from far and wide supporting a great cause,” Michael said.
“After hearing stories of the Nino Konis Santana National Park Rangers and their lack of resources, it puts into perspective how fortunate we are here in Tasmania and how even the smallest donation is part of something meaningful that helps others elsewhere in their conservation efforts.
“My personal motivation for participating in the ranger relay was to connect with other members throughout the state while also travelling through some areas that I may otherwise not have got to, all while raising money for a worthy cause.”
First night camp at ranger relay
Michael’s journey in the ranger relay begun at Lake St Clair National Park and finished at the McPartlands Pass Boat Ramp at Lake Pedder, participating in bike riding sections and providing vehicle support.
The first section for Michael involved cycling to southeast of Derwent Bridge, with the first leg emerging at Clark Dam at Butlers Gorge, before a section down the Lyell Highway towards Wayatinah. Riders continued along the Florentine Road, while the support vehicles travelled via Ouse before meeting up along the Florentine Road.
Luke Gadd, Darren Emmett, Shirley Zheng, Andrew Bain (Australian Geographic) on their way to Adamsfield
Steady rain set in overnight leading to a wet start to day two of this leg. The group packed up camp from overnight and cycled further down the Florentine Road to the beginning of the old Adamsfield Track. The group then walked the route through to the old Adamsfield mine workings and settlement, crossing the Florentine River for a second time, while support vehicles drove up Clear Hill Road to meet walkers at Adamsfield.
“This section took a little longer than anticipated. The combination of less than ideal weather and reclamation of the track by vegetation, made the track difficult to follow. This led to slow progress and the walkers emerging at Adamsfield soaked and carrying the odd leech, as daylight was fading,” Michael said.
The third and final day of the middle roads section began by riding along the Sawback Track.
“Starting from Adamsfield, making its way out to Gordon Road, this section was particularly wet and muddy, with one bike suffering a broken derailleur in the final stretch which required walking out to meet up with the support vehicles,” Michael said.
“It was then a relatively straightforward ride along Gordon River Road, to the Mcpartlans Pass Boat Ramp meeting up with everyone ready to head off on the Kayaking leg across Lake Pedder, who after a couple of days paddling met up with the group walking the Port Davey Track.”
Michael said the planning and preparation for the ranger relay was a major achievement.
“All the organisation and planning behind the scenes has allowed it to be a great all-round event.
“I’m sure all those involved in its creation would agree in saying the planning and organisation was the challenging part and the actual walking, riding and kayaking was the easy bit.”
Ben Correy with Frankland Range in the background
Meanwhile, Ben Correy from PWS participated in days one and two of stage one (walking with an overnight pack) and three days of the Lake Pedder Paddle.
Ben said there were many highlights during the ranger relay.
“The beauty and steepness of the terrain in the Dial Range was a standout for the first leg of the relay. The great work of the volunteers who maintain the Penguin to Cradle track was showcased and the camaraderie between the walkers was quickly established,” Ben said.
“Our group bonded really well which was a highlight of the relay and of course, you also can’t forget how good the hot chips were and a warm shower at Wings Wildlife Park.”
The ranger relay was not without its challenges, with a participant’s pack stolen at the campsite on the first night of the relay.
“This was a sobering reminder of challenges that rangers face on a daily basis. The participant coped amazingly well and put her losses into perspective, her attitude was that rangers in other places are faced with even greater trials and seriously threatening situations,” Ben said.
Another highlight for Ben was the Lake Pedder Paddle, with the location being on his bucket list, although it came with some challenges.
“Sea kayaking can be hard and uncomfortable at times and sometimes all you want is to be able to land and stretch your legs,” Ben said.
“I was extremely grateful for Captain Rob Buck and his rescue boat when the rudder on my kayak failed, and he was able to tow me to the shore just as the wind picked up and the waves increased, which would have made a self-rescue a very physically demanding option.
“Another highlight, apart from the amazing scenery and the great team vibe was waking up on day 3 to millpond conditions after two days of headwinds and at times fairly poor conditions. I don’t think that any of us really wanted to stop paddling with such magnificent weather conditions.”