Strike gold as volunteer national parks guide
Volunteers ranging from teenagers to retirees are needed to guide tours at the Copeland Tops State Conservation Area and Mountain Maid Gold Mine.
NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) Barrington Tops Area Manager, Anthony Signor said NPWS is looking for people to give guided tours once a month.
“It can be really rewarding. Volunteers are trained and mentored, meet people and spend time outdoors in nature,” Mr Signor said.
“For younger people it can be valuable work experience guiding with national parks, and some may even go on to apply for a career with NPWS.
“Copeland Tops is an amazing patch of bush. It’s dry rainforest, with shatterwood, and Morton Bay figs – bird’s nest ferns, orchids, lyrebirds and red cedar trees everywhere. It’s just beautiful.
“I can’t recommend it enough to anyone with an interest in the environment, ecology, local history, national parks, or gold mining.
“We want people of any age over 18 who just want to learn. It’s a way of being part of a wider community, and you get back more than you give.”
The site has a former goldmine – with just the entrance currently accessible – providing a glimpse of the mining carts’ rail lines entering the dark interior of the mountain.
Gold was discovered here in the mid-1800s when timber getters were felling red cedar in the area. A couple of timber-getters washing their damper pan in the creek found gold, and when word got out, a gold rush ensued.
NPWS also offers Aboriginal cultural tours at Copeland which was the traditional country of the Biripi and Worimi people. Some scar trees and other cultural sites remain in secret locations.
“One of the most important trees here is the Craven grey box, which has been listed as an Asset of Intergenerational Significance under the National Parks and Wildlife Act,” Mr Signor said.
Tours run at 10 am every Wednesday and Saturday morning, with 2 guides on each tour. Tours take in the gold mine surrounds, rainforest and an elevated boardwalk that winds its way alongside the creek.
Once a month there is an evening spotlighting ‘twilight tour’. Nocturnal animals such as possums, fruit bats, spiders, diamond pythons and triangle-headed slugs can all be picked out by their eye shine.
Copeland Tops is around a 20-minute drive on sealed roads from Gloucester, and under an hour and a half from Taree.
What’s involved in being a volunteer tour guide?
- Volunteers will be fully trained, potentially with a formal training day.
- Trainee volunteers will be buddied up with more experienced guides.
- Volunteers will be provided with an official NPWS Volunteer Tour Guide uniform.
- Volunteers need to be fit enough and able to walk around the approximately 500 metre board walk and the nearby gold mine site which is around 100 metres from the car park.
- Each tour is around 2 hours, with roughly another half-hour on each side needed to unlock and lock-up the education centre.
- If possible, volunteers are asked to be available to guide at least one tour a month.
- NPWS is looking for around 12 people.
- An interest in the environment, national parks, ecology, gold mining, conservation or local history is a plus.