George Bradford has only been the Supervisor of the Dorrigo National Park Rainforest Centre for just over a year but has certainly made his mark on this iconic landmark. The new Rainforest Centre Community Gallery Space, which is attracting artists from across the Shire and boosting visitor numbers, is just one new initiative driven by George.
His life-long love of National Parks is palpable, admitting one of his favourite childhood memories was participating in National Parks ‘Junior Ranger’ activities. And this is a love he wants to share.
“National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) are part of the local community and part of my job is to engage with the community and explore ways for the community to love their National Parks,” says George.
His enthusiasm is certainly contagious- as Rod discovered.
How long have you been in the Bellingen Shire and where did you come from?
I’ve been here for just over one year and I intend on staying for life! I came from Kosciuszko National Park where I worked for NPWS and managed the Yarrangobilly Caves for 12 years. Before that I was in Sydney, Adelaide, Naracoorte Caves in South Australia, Buchan Caves Victoria and in Melbourne. You can see I have had a bit of a ‘cave’ theme to my career!
How is it different here?
Over here there are no limestone caves to explore or snow skiing to do in winter. But I am loving the climate as I don’t feel that I have had a winter yet and my family are still swimming in the sea. The Dorrigo community and Bellingen Shire in general are so diverse and interesting too.
Tell me about the new Community Gallery Space at the Rainforest Centre?
The Community Gallery space provides an avenue for local artists to showcase their work and to share it with the public. It doubles as an opportunity for locals to revisit the National Park. It never hurts to offer extra incentives.
What is the future of Dorrigo National Park?
Nature-based tourism is an important part of the local economy and Dorrigo National Park is an important and iconic destination. National Parks has started the process of looking at what we need to do to position Dorrigo National Park as a place that ensures ‘everyone loves their national parks’ into the future. At the moment we’re taking a ‘blue sky thinking’ approach to how we can strategically position Dorrigo National Park to meet the demands of tourism and the community into the future.
What is your favourite thing to do in the Dorrigo National Park?
Taking a leisurely walk on the Wonga Walk and going behind the Crystal Shower Falls, which has just reopened. Where else can you get so close to nature that you can literally walk behind a waterfall?
Your best memory of childhood was?
Camping with the family at Mount Buffalo (Victorian High Country) and participating in National Parks ‘Junior Ranger’ activities.
Your best sporting moment was?
My ‘only’ sporting moment lasted minutes….. fielding a ‘silly mid-off’, attempting a catch and ending up with a bleeding nose for my efforts.
What would you like to be remembered for?
What we achieved at Yarrangobilly Caves remains a significant achievement for me. Re-opening Caves House for public accommodation was something no one really thought was possible, especially after it had been closed for more than 40 years. I’m incredibly proud of my part in that project.
What are you reading right now?
Charlie & the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl (to my six-year-old son).
What are you listening to right now?
Sisken River- I came across them at Woodford Folk Festival a few years back.
What really annoys you?
People not accepting change and failing to make the best of things. Change is often inevitable and can be a force for good if you have the right attitude.
The best lesson your mother taught you?
To give kids another chance and the opportunity to achieve (she was a social worker).
The last big belly laugh you had was?
Watching my kids play with Basil (the dog) at the beach.
What project are you currently working on?
Renovating our house in Dorrigo; it feels like a never-ending project, but it is a great place for the family.
How do you relax?
With a glass of red.
Favourite restaurant in the Shire?
I am still to decide as we try a new one each time we are out. The latest was the Bello Brewery; great beer, atmosphere and food.
The previous career you wish you could forget?
Dare I say it, but I have enjoyed them all. Life is too short.
Favourite holiday destination & why?
Camping at Jervis Bay on the South Coast of NSW. Now it’s Woody Head on the North Coast.
In the Movie Georgegate, who would play you?
Aiden Turner (Capt. Ross Poldark) so they say!!