Dr. Will Batson, Area Manager Upper Mountains, Blue Mountains Branch, NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service takes five with Great Walks.
"Growing up in New Zealand my earliest bushwalking memory was walking the Abel Tasman Coast Track with my family. It’s a spectacular walk along a coastline full of golden beaches. The bunks in the huts were full, so we ended up sleeping on the verandas.
In my current job I manage the Upper Mountains Area within Blue Mountains National Park. This area includes the major visitor precincts around Wentworth Falls, Katoomba and Blackheath, and the more remote areas within the Grose Valley, Jamieson Valleys and Cox’s River.
With the most extensive walking track network in NSW, the Upper Mountains is the most popular bushwalking destination in the state, attracting over five million visitors per year.
It’s a real privilege to do this job and be able to manage a prestigious World Heritage area. It’s a challenging role which requires finding a balance between the need to manage risks in such a dynamic landscape; whilst, enabling people to access the unique experiences the national park has to offer. It’s an incredibly varied job and no day is like the next.
I have always worked in the outdoors beginning my career as a sea kayak guide and snowboarding instructor before studying ecology at university. I moved to Australia in 2012 to begin a PhD at Australian National University, studying the Reintroduction Biology of Eastern Bettongs to Mulligans Flat Woodland Sanctuary in the ACT.
Following a couple of positions in academia, I was employed as the manager of Mulligans Flat which is a fenced reserve where foxes and cats have been eradicated allowing locally extinct species to be reintroduced in the absence of predation.
I moved to the Blue Mountains in 2019 to begin my current position with NPWS just in time for the Black Summer bush fires, Covid-19 and the worst floods in 60 years…
NPWS is strongly committed to supporting the community to have enjoyable and safe experiences in our wonderful national parks. TREK was initiated following a high-profile incident in Kosciusko National Park whereby someone died after becoming lost on a bushwalk.
Emergency services didn’t know where to look for this person as there was no record of their intended route and it was several days before anyone noticed they were missing, as no emergency contact was checking on their return.
TREK was designed to improve bushwalkers’ level of preparedness when embarking on a bushwalk into remote areas and to help emergency services locate them should they require help. Walkers can follow the simple TREK steps to plan a safe and enjoyable adventure.
Every year around 130 bushwalkers get lost or need rescuing in Blue Mountains National Park.
Before anyone goes bushwalking they should follow the Think Before You TREK steps on the NPWS website – do your research and be prepared. And if you do get lost, stay calm, stay put, think clearly and assess your need to call 000 for help or activate your personal locator beacon."