From Our Rangers – Rhonda McNeil

I am excited and honoured to be taking up the position of Area Chief Ranger Grampians. I grew up in Great Western and as a child spent many days in Halls Gap and walking in the Grampians. Whilst studying at university I worked in the holidays serving ice cream from Pip Mangle’s Ice creamery.  I started my real work as an information officer in the old parks interpretive centre. So I remember the tourists and the range of questions but there certainly are more people in the Grampians now. I spent the next 20 years working for Parks Victoria in central Victoria and along the Murray River. A favourite park that I was lucky to look after was Kooyoora State Park which is where my affinity with working with traditional owners began and I am so pleased to see the Dja Dja Wurung people heavily involved in park management of this area. During this time I was involved across the state in many fire campaigns and bring a wealth of experience with me to the Grampians.

In 2008 my family moved to Laharum to farm and I worked in the Grampians for the next few years in the fire and emergency management area, in particular with Jill Read on the fire ecology strategy for the Grampians and Little Desert.  In 2011 I accepted a position with Horsham Rural City Council working with Yarrimabiack, Hindmarsh and West Wimmera Shire Councils to develop the Wimmera Emergency Management Resource Sharing Project. During the Northern Grampians Complex fire I was the recovery manager. For the last three years I held the position of Manager Recreation and Sustainability for Horsham Rural City Council, which included overseeing the major projects such as the Horsham Town Hall, Wimmera Sports Stadium Feasibility Study and the Kalkee Road Children’s Hub.

My family (Gus, Sophie and James) and I are very excited about this role and with their full support and belief in me I look forward to caring for this amazing landscape.