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Woorabinda Rangers Project

17 June, 2024
Handing over binoculars to each Ranger for the use of successive Rangers

Last year I was invited to join our local Rangers for an “environmental day” with our Primary School children. We planted trees around the lagoon and did some water quality testing with the experts from the Fitzroy Basin Association. Allan Briggs, President of Birdlife Capricornia and I shared about birdlife in general and took the children for some “birding” using binoculars. The day was a big success with the children. That night the Rangers were getting phone calls from parents who asked, “What did you do with our kids? They come home full of excitement !”

So, the idea was born of procuring good quality, weather-proof binoculars to help our Rangers get involved in protecting the birdlife around us. St. Francis Xavier school in West Mackay had wanted to support the ministry in Woorabinda so they got on board right away and raised enough money to buy four sets of binoculars in a huge effort. The Earth Care group at Emmaus College raised enough money for another set of binoculars by holding a cake sale – which involved a lot of baking!  A wonderful effort by both schools. In fact, our Catholic schools throughout the Diocese have been extremely generous in supporting various projects for the community here over the years; whether it’s been buying or collecting blankets and warm clothes for Winter or funding the cost of new shoes to start the school year (which the parents can buy at an affordable $5 a pair rather than getting  “hand-outs,”) or collecting footy boots for the boys for the rugby season each year. It is all greatly appreciated!

Photographers will understand my joy when famous Aussie photographer Georgina Steytler (from W.A.) generously offered to be involved with the project. We met in Rocky last year and she was keen to visit Woori. She and husband Chris were around Brisbane at the time as she was giving workshops, so they flew up to join me for twelve days. We visited the two schools where the Earth-Care students had some hands-on experience with her lenses and were treated to her beautiful bird images, knowledge about birdlife and tips about photography. She had the students enthralled and the budding photographers among them were full of enthusiasm. Her love of birds and nature in general is infectious (See “” to be blown away)

Lynne, Sr. Cecilia, Aahlyea Fisher, Errol & Roger.

The day with our four local Rangers was very special (a fifth one is joining soon) Their ages range  from early twenties to fifty and they are incredibly knowledgeable about their flora and fauna and so dedicated to what they do. We started the morning with talks on various aspects of birding and practical sessions on the best use of their (one dslr) camera and binoculars. After lunch they drove us around a few of the (nine) dams within the Woorabinda boundary and we all enjoyed the experience. They were delighted at how good the binoculars are and at how well they could spot the birds and other fauna with them. It was a glorious day and there were birds everywhere!

I have gone out with some of the Rangers since and am so impressed with how much they have learnt already and especially with how keen they are. We aim to go out together once a month until they are confident about identifying our local birds and recognising their calls.

My hope is that once the Rangers are comfortable with their skills they will go out with our Woorabinda youngsters to pass on their knowledge. It’s a Franciscan answer to combat the killing of birds when the shanghai season comes around every year and to encourage the youth to become Bird Guardians instead.

Sr. Cecilia Prest, mfic

Photos above Georgina Steytler

Thanks to St.Francis Xavier West Mackay, Emmaus College, Rockhampton and Georgina Steytler