All the latest news and views from the CPSU team
Meet CPSU Parks Delegate Rob Buck
YOU’LL find Parks & Wildlife Service Ranger in Charge and CPSU Delegate Rob Buck in the vast Mole Creek Karst National Park.
Rob and his team of six look after this diverse area, and most of their patch is World Heritage listed and covers about 54 reserves. The Walls of Jerusalem National Park, eastern section of the Cradle Mountain Lake St Clair National Park, Mole Creek Karst National Park and the Central Plateau Conservation Area are just a few of these areas.
Rob chatted to us recently about the area he proudly manages, his job and his union role.
It’s a varied and physical role, and maintaining walking tracks is an ongoing task for Rob and the Mole Creek team.
“We have some very high quality walking tracks, part of the 60 Great Short Walks that we manage. There’s a big difference between the grades of walking tracks. Some need very little maintenance, mainly erosion control; and others need a lot of work. We have tracks that range from wheelchair access to very hard to navigate routes.”
Infrastructure maintenance also extends to historic houses inside the area. Weed eradication and feral animal control are also important tasks for conserving the natural environment.
Caves are one of the fascinating and unique features of this part of the state.
“We look after all the wild caves, the ones you need a permit to get into. They’re one of the most special areas in Australia, even the world. Kubla Khan is arguably Australia’s best cave, and it’s here in the Mole Creek Karst National Park. If you’re taking photos and are visiting in a group of about four or more, it’d probably take 12 hours to get through it. There are incredible formations in those caves. There’s a stalagmite that’s close to 30 metres high and two metres thick.
“There’s a great deal of stuff that happens in those caves that most people wouldn’t know about. We manage about 12 or so of those caves and we have to go in there and make sure they’re not being damaged. We also look after the permit systems for people who want to go into those caves.”
Rob and his team also manage wallaby hunting for the World Heritage Area.
Of course what needs doing also depends on the seasons.
When we talked to Rob in early autumn he was preparing for the annual fuel reduction burns and he and his staff were preparing to set up fire breaks with chainsaws, tractors and brush cutters.
“Our work is varied, we’re doing asset protection burns this time of year, in the summer we’re fighting fires and in the spring you’re dealing with weeds and feral animals. Then you’re going down into the caves, walking up the Walls of Jerusalem once a fortnight to check the toilet system, and making sure visitors do the right thing. It’s a very diverse job.”
Rob’s a relative newcomer to the CPSU Delegate team but not to the union movement.
“I’ve always been a union member in some form or other. I’ve always had something to say and always had a belief in the union movement. Union values also reflect my values: it’s all about honesty, integrity and fairness.”
Two years ago I was president of the Tasmanian Rangers Association for three years, through that I met (CPSU General Secretary) Tom Lynch. I also have an interest in the professionalism of Rangers and what we do, how we’re perceived by the public, and also that our rights aren’t eroded.”
Recently he took part in Delegate training in Devonport with other union members from a slew of workplaces.
“It was useful; I got quite a lot out of it. It reinforced a lot of what I already thought and do. It helped me realise that I don’t need to worry about taking everything on myself but as a Delegate to delegate and try to encourage people, as well as lead by example. You don’t have to have the whole world on your shoulders. The training also showed me what support was available. It was really uplifting as well.”
Rob’s worked in Parks and Wildlife for 24 years, with about 12 in the Mole Creek region, and before that he did a few left of centre jobs from diving under ice to pearl diving.
“In 2001, 2002 summer, I was a scientific diver, diving under the Antarctic sea ice for the human impacts program, which looked at the effect of humans down there. There were three of us employed as divers. Our job was to help the scientists, putting down experiments, collecting samples and so on.
“Before Parks I was a commercial fisherman for seven years. For five of those years I was a peal diver in the Torres Strait. Now in my spare time I fish. My wife would label me a fishing tragic!”
Outside work, Rob has a farm and enjoys spending time with his family. “I have two lovely young boys and a beautiful wife.”