By Milly Breward
Administration Officer

This is not my first time in Roxby Downs, my husband and I worked at Downer EDi back in 2008 and I had visited Arid Recovery on several occasions, including an evening with Malcolm Douglas and a visit with a photography group. We returned to Roxby in 2018 and I was thrilled to be offered the position for Administration Officer at Arid Recovery.  I was expecting an office job with admin and finance, what I got has been far more rewarding. I knew I was in the right place when I overheard a conversation discussing who had won at Settlers of Catan, these were my kind of people.

An emu egg I discovered on the Reserve. It must be over 20 years old! Photo: Jamie Breward

So what have I been up to since August 2018?

I started with a board meeting at the reserve which was a great opportunity for me to be introduced. The day was busy but gave me a chance to head to the reserve for a meal under the stars and to meet some of the bettongs, our most inquisitive animals.

Meal under the stars. Photo: Nathan Beerkens

Shortly after this I was given the responsibility of looking after Poo! No, that is not a funny name for the work pet. I was asked if I would be around the office during the day as most people were out and about. I wasn’t planning to go far and so I was asked if I could keep an eye on the poo which was in the oven to make sure it didn’t catch on fire and burn the place down. You really couldn’t make these things up Sure enough when I checked the oven in the shed there was a terrible smell and lots of flies! I kept a check from a safe distance for the rest of the day.

(Comment from Melissa Jensen, Reintroduction Technical Officer: I bake quoll scats in a 50ºC oven for 24 hours to kill any germs or parasites before I wash and dry them and go digging around in there looking for hairs to ID. This way, we can see what the quolls have been eating).

Handling quoll poo in the lab. Photo: Tessa Manning

October had an opportunity to dress up for the RD Longevity Awards. As a mostly outdoor operation we don’t get much of a chance to dress up so it was great fun going to the awards evening to receive our certificate for 20 years of continuous operation in Roxby Downs.

Roxby Downs Longevity Awards. Photo: Mike Nelson

November was my first chance to see Quolls – I got a phone call from Mel asking if I wanted to meet a quoll and help with the release. Well you don’t have to ask twice! I clocked off and headed out the reserve, trying to think of Quoll related names. I finally met ‘SpringQuoll’ aka Sprinkle and watched as Mel processed her and then held the bag while we drove out to the release location. And of course this was not without incident; apparently once a Quoll wees on you, you are a fully inducted member of Arid Recovery. Well I got that badge.

Baby quoll, with a newly-fitted radio-collar (you can see the antenna on my shirt). Photo: Melissa Jensen

 Another highlight of my year was being part of the Roxby Downs Pageant. Such a great afternoon, although the wind was not in our favour during set up and the heat was almost an issue for Macca the Bilby. Even Arid animals like to hide during extreme weather! But thankfully the evening cooled slightly and the children were thrilled to see one of the stars of the show making an appearance.

Roxby Downs Christmas Pageant, with Mel dressed up as Macca the Bilby. Photo: Jamie Breward

The strangest text message of the year goes to Kath who asked the following… An odd question (you’re probably used to them by now!): Do you have friends in town with cats who could collect urine for lures??… Well I nearly fell off my chair laughing and then, as I tried to think how you would collect cat urine, well I nearly wet myself laughing!

Other highlights have included being part of the team involved with Pitfall trapping. Long hours spent kneeling on the sand with your hand down a hole. Rewards include awesome sun rises and sun sets, the chance to get close to a wide range of animals and time spent with a fantastic group of like-minded individuals.

What a year! The day in the life of an admin chick at Arid Recovery really is never dull. I have been able to do a job I love surrounded by a fantastic group of people for a very worthy cause.

Knob-tailed Gecko caught during pitfall trapping. Photos: Milly Breward

My real job description:

Fun loving, outdoorsy individual, who can juggle office work with random animal adventures. Not put off by poo or walks in the desert. Expect some long hours and fantastic rewards. Office attire includes sturdy shoes, camera and water bottle, just in case.