Red rock to black rock

Ranger Matt Hudson recently left Booderee National Park (where he’s worked for 16 years), and headed to the desert for a second stint helping out at Uluru as head of the Cultural and Resources ranger team.

There is rarely a dull moment for rangers working in the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, with wildlife conservation and land management demanding constant attention. The mala paddock is one of the park’s key projects.  A 170 hectare area has been cleared of rabbits, cats and foxes to create a safe fenced environment for the park’s threatened mala (rufous hare-wallaby).

Matt and fellow park ranger Richie show tourists how to prepare traditional bush tucker

Coming back to the desert has been a really rewarding experience - I’ve been able to continue work to help out with the mala project which is doing really well.  Mala numbers plummeted over the years with feral animals targeting them and rabbits taking over their habitat, prompting construction of the predator-proof paddock.  Our night cameras have picked up plenty of shots of mala with young in pouch and joeys at foot lately, which has been very encouraging to see.  We’ve also noticed an increase in the number of spinifex hopping mice, as well as lizards, so that’s been an added benefit of the enclosure.

I was at Uluru for this year’s prescribed fire season where I led some controlled burn-offs around the park - where areas of spinifex and mallee are burned under cool and calm conditions to reduce ground fuels. Burns are aimed at specific sites where certain species of plants and animals may be vulnerable to a wildfire.  Fire management forms an important part of a ranger’s training, and living and working in Uluru has given me the chance to brush up on some new skills in a different environment.

I’ve enjoyed the change of scenery and the adventure, met some great new hard-working ranger staff, re-kindled some solid friendships from earlier ranger days as well as gained some great knowledge and experience. But it will be good to get home  too - I think an ocean swim will definitely be one of the first activities on the cards!

Fire management is an important part of a ranger's training 

Matt, Booderee National Park