Volunteering kickstarted Kelsey's career in conservation at Wilsons Prom

Friday 17 May, 2024

Wilsons Promontory National Park has been a cherished sanctuary for Kelsey Fraser ever since she was little, igniting a passion that led her to dedicate her time to its care as a volunteer with the local Friends group. This commitment helped nurture her connection to the park and gave her the experience needed to secure a career with Parks Victoria. 

Kelsey Fraser is now a Customer Service Officer for Parks Victoria, where she spends her time helping others experience two of the Prom’s most iconic locations, Tidal River and the Wilsons Promontory Lightstation.

“I love sharing my passion for the Prom with visitors. It gives me the same sense of joy I had as a kid playing and discovering everything in the bush,” Kelsey said.

Ranger Kelsey Fraser atop the Wilsons Prom lighthouse

Photo: Parks Victoria Customer Service Officer Kelsey Fraser atop the Wilsons Promontory Lighthouse.


“When I'm rostered at the Tidal River Visitor Centre, my role includes assisting campers with their bookings, administration tasks and answering visitor questions about our hiking trails and the flora and fauna within the park,” Kelsey said.

“When I'm stationed at the Lighthouse, my role is a lot more hands on. We can be stationed there between 3 to 5 days, hiking in, living on-site, and then hiking out again. My day-to-day tasks include assisting guests who have made the 20km hike in, conducting lighthouse tours and providing basic maintenance and up-keep of the heritage-listed cottages and gardens. Guests hiking to the accommodation have such a unique and wild experience - it's something every adventurer should try at least once.

It's incredibly remote and the weather changes on a dime, so every day is different. Sometimes the wind is howling at 90km/hr and it feels like the ocean is going to swallow the place up. It really is something else,” she said.

Wilsons Prom lighthouse

Rugged and remote

The Wilsons Promontory Lightstation is close to the most southerly point of mainland Australia and can only be reached by foot.

The view from the lighthouse

Views worth the effort

Spend the night in one of the three historic lighthouse keeper cottages to enjoy views like this.

Kelsey’s love affair with the Prom started when she was little, growing up in the surrounding South Gippsland region.

Like most people from the area, Wilsons Promontory was the backdrop to a lot of really great memories growing up,” Kelsey said.

I have always loved being outdoors and working with plants and wildlife and wanted to give back to a place that had given me so much.”

In 2020, Kelsey did just that by beginning to volunteer her spare time with the Friends of the Prom volunteer group, who are committed to preserving and enhancing the park's ecological wonders.

“The people who volunteer with Friends of the Prom have an absolute wealth of knowledge and share the same passion for the park. I've gained some valuable friendships and I consider myself incredibly fortunate to be surrounded by people I really look up to.”

The wealth of experience she gained from volunteering, not just with the Friends of the Prom, but through the Parks Victoria Volunteer Track Ranger program, served her well when she eventually applied for a job with Parks Victoria.

“The Volunteer Track Ranger program is a great way to see whether or not a Parks role could be for you,” Kelsey said.

“Volunteering gave me some practical experience and insight to the projects that were being worked on within the park, as well as an understanding of some of the bigger environmental challenges facing the Prom.

Kelsey Fraser

Getting into nature

Kelsey Fraser started out as a volunteer with Friends of the Prom before joining Parks Victoria.

Volunteers working together to improve shoreline habitat on Victorian beaches.

Helping hands

The Friends of the Prom volunteer group has been caring for Wilsons Prom since 1972.

“I learned a substantial amount about our native plants and the planting projects based at the Prom. I was able to learn about the grazing animals and invasive pest animals and the projects aimed at protecting the park.

“I also had the opportunity to work alongside Parks staff in basic field work and tree planting days. This ultimately helped me to have a better understanding of some of the unique ecosystems that visitors want to learn about and visit.”

Kelsey continues to volunteer with Friends of the Prom and is now a committee member of the group. 

Nearly every park in Victoria has a Friends group, not just the Prom, and there are plenty of opportunities for people to get involved,” Kelsey said.

“These groups are also low commitment. I think there can be a misconception that if you join, you're expected to show up to every event, when most are thrilled to see you get involved just once a year.”

“Even if you have zero experience or are just curious about wildlife or plants, sign yourself and a friend up for a tree planting day. Friends groups absolutely love getting new people through the door and sharing their experience with younger volunteers, and there is so much knowledge to be passed down that you just can't get from a book.

“It has been incredibly rewarding to give back to the Prom in such a tangible way. I think anybody who has a passion for the outdoors should give back a little bit where they can, even if it's just picking up a few pieces of rubbish during a hike.”

Volunteering in your local park and joining a Friends group like the Friends of the Prom can be a rewarding experience that allows you to connect with nature, make a positive impact on the environment, gain valuable hands-on experience, all while being part of a vibrant community of like-minded individuals. 

Click here to find out how you can volunteer in a park near you or subscribe to our newsletter to receive the latest volunteering opportunities and updates straight to your inbox.


By using our site you accept that we use and share cookies and similar technologies with certain approved third parties. These tools enable us to improve your website experience and to provide content and ads tailored to your interests. By continuing to use our site you consent to this. Please see our Privacy Policy for more information.