This year marks 50 years since the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service was created, and the Public Service Association is holding celebrations all over the state for the next five months.
They launched festivities on Wednesday night with a dinner and drinks at the Royal Hotel for Tumut’s NPWS employees.
The PSA is the union for public service employees, but Industrial Officer Nathan Bradshaw said appreciating the parks was for people of all stripes.
“The NPWS was actually established by the Liberals, so it’s non-political – everyone loves the National Parks, whether from Sydney or Tumut or anywhere else,” he said.
“So this event is all about celebrating that and making sure the NPWS continues for another 50 years.”
One person who certainly appreciates our own wilderness areas is NPWS field officer of nearly two decades Rodney Penrith. For him, the draw of the job is simple.
“I love it,” he said.
“I can get up every day and know I’m going to have a good day because I’m going out into the bush. I’m happy looking after country, and there’s some special spots out there in the mountains. It’s meditative; it regenerates you.”
Mr Penrith’s job encompasses everything from maintaining tracks and picnic tables to undertaking search and rescue missions for people who wander off in the snow.
“There’ll be found having gone beyond the locked gates; there’s always somebody doing something silly like that,” he said.
Australia has been consistently ahead of the pack when it comes to protecting our unique wilderness areas: the second national park in the world was created south of Sydney way back in 1879.
Since then the land under NPWS’s care has expanded to 872 reserves totalling 7 million hectares, or 8 per cent of total land in NSW.
Mr Bradshaw said Wednesday night was to make sure the people responsible for maintaining all of that beautiful land were properly recognised.
Along with his speech, guests watched a video from PSA General Secretary Stewart Little, two promotional videos including one starring Tumut NPWS Field Officer Steven ‘Stumpy’ Carter, and a special treat – a Welcome to Country delivered in Wiradjuri by Pat Connolly.
The event also recognised Tumut’s NPWS employees of over 20 years: Loren Sturt, Alma Hurst, Stephen Cathcart, Megan Bowden, David Pearce and Steven Carter.