A roving eye

Josh Thomson takes the trekker past the Arboretum

A simple cottage nestles high in the mountains on the banks of a meandering river. For nearly 30 years this isolated, picturesque setting was home for Ranger Tom Gregory. A base from which he patrolled the remote Upper Cotter, protecting the catchment values of the mighty Cotter River. A river which yields crystal clear mountain water for a thirsty city.

When viewed through the prism of a contemporary world, Tom’s role required unique skills and personal attributes. He relied on his bushcraft knowledge to navigate his way through the trials and tribulations of various seasons. Communication with the outside world was almost non-existent apart from a scratchy two-way radio to converse, order supplies and relay information. Today, this type of work would be described as incredibly challenging, yet perhaps for Tom it was the perfect job.

In a far cry from the 1960’s two-way radio system, remarkable advancements in technology now mean the rangers who walk in Tom’s footsteps have digital radios at their disposal, use sophisticated mapping tools and have access to emergency positioning beacons.

As if to take another giant technological step, the world wide Google Maps Street View has made its way into this remote territory. Hundreds of kilometres of our most scenic natural attractions and walking tracks have been digitally mastered and captured online to whet the appetite to explore our natural world.

With just a few clicks on the world wide web viewers can acquire a taste of the incredible views from the top of Mount Ainslie, take a virtual walk through a light dusting of snow on Mount Franklin or be mesmerised by koalas at Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve.

This amazing footage, and so much more, was captured using a Google Trekker, a device made of 15 cameras mounted on top of a customised backpack, weighing around 18 kilograms. A band of wonderful volunteers from Friends of Bruce Ridge, Majura Pines Trail Alliance and the Canberra Bushwalkers Club, along with our rangers, traversed more than 350 kilometres across 35 locations on foot, the backpack on their back. They captured the essence of what the bush capital has to offer.

These online digital experiences create a wonderful online narrative, speaking of the bush capital’s natural wonders, inviting the world to come and explore and connect with our nature. A world-wide promotional tool that Ranger Tom Gregory could only have but imagined.

To discover this digital world visit http://www.environment.act.gov.au/ACT-parks-conservation

Brett Mac

Brett McNamara - Regional Manager with ACT Parks & Conservation Service

Brett loves our national parks almost as much as the Gang-gang on his uniform. He is prone to using the word 'majestic' when referring to the bush capital. He loves talking. A lot. His favourite animal is the playful platypus.

Article also appeared in The Chronicle