Jae Ellis and Courtney Heinjus have been named as two of the Glenthorne National Park rangers, with a third ranger soon to be announced. Get to know them in this Q & A.
With the opening of the Glenthorne Ranger Station not too far away, you might be interested to find out more about the rangers that have been assigned to take care of the Glenthorne precinct.
We sat down with Senior Ranger Jae Ellis and newly recruited Ranger Courtney Heinjus to find out more about their experience and the opportunities Glenthorne National Park will create.
Q: Jae, you’ve worked in South Australia’s national parks for a number of years now, can you tell us which parks you’ve worked on in Adelaide’s south?
In the past five years, I have focused on O’Halloran Hill Recreation Park and Marino and Hallett Cove conservation parks. I also now help out with Belair and Sturt Gorge. I’ve also had a short stint working from our Willunga office where I was focused on Onkaparinga Gorge, Moana and Aldinga Scrub. When I first moved into this district I looked after Brownhill Creek and Shepherds Hill. I think it’s safe to say I’ve spent time in most of our southern parks in my time!
Q: Jae, what excites you the most about the creation of Glenthorne National Park?
I am so excited about the opportunities that establishing a national park that’s been co-designed with the community will offer! I’m really enjoying engaging with community members and hearing what experiences our potential visitors really want to see provided. It may sound silly or sentimental, but I’m really excited about watching my daughter grow with the park… I see this as a multi-generational project – I’m doing this for her and her children.
Q: Jae, what’s something special this area has that isn’t offered elsewhere?
Right now, Glenthorne National Park offers us an almost ‘clean slate’. This area offers us the opportunity to develop experiences and spaces that park visitors will truly feel a stewardship over – a real connection to place.
Q: Jae, can you tell us about any hidden gems across the precinct that visitors should know about?
I have a couple – each park has its own unique attractions. I’d like to put the challenge out to families to test out some of our new bike trails at O’Halloran Hill and try to find Frog Rock. At Hallett Cove, rather than doing the Coastal Hike with everyone else, check out the Geological Hike and read about the park’s history and residents along the way. Finally, at Marino check out the Western Heath. This is the last remaining intact section of the vegetation that would have covered the southern Adelaide coastline before settlement. Imagine how different it must have been!
Q: Courtney, you’re new to SA’s national parks. Can you tell us what motivated you to become a ranger?
I grew up constantly being outdoors and often visited SA’s national parks. I developed a passion for conservation and ultimately wanted to play my part in protecting natural environments. I also love interacting with people and educating them about conservation issues, which is one of the main roles of a ranger.
Q: Courtney, what excites you the most about working in a new national park?
Creating something from the beginning means I can help shape how the park develops and it gives me the opportunity to see some great projects take flight. I can’t wait to see how ideas on paper are developed into on-ground works and the park starts coming together.
Q: Courtney, what do you think is the biggest opportunity for the Glenthorne property?
It’ll be fantastic to work with the local community and other stakeholders to develop and co-design the space. It’s great to get input from people who will ultimately use the park and will bring in new and exciting ideas.