Abergowrie State Forest looked decidedly different last week. Nature’s superheroes and super-helpers – our state rangers – were gathered en masse for their annual muster. As an event sponsor, Xzibit was invited to attend the event. In the forest setting, we were welcomed to country in a moving ‘Awakening Ceremony’ with the Warrgamay people. We listened to talks and panels wherein rangers discussed their challenges, opportunities, and goals.
What was the most notable aspect of the muster? While rangers manage thousands of acres and wrangle serious wildlife (bats to crocs and innumerable fuzzy and feathered fauna), they maintain a strong focus on looking out and caring for each other. Ultimately, the muster was about the importance of connections and fostering connections. It was networking with a heart and a practical approach.
Xzibit was thrilled to act as a sponsor to the muster. Being onsite allowed us to connect with rangers and other sponsors and hear about what they need, what their visitors want and how we might help provide these items.
As part of Xzibit’s muster showcase, we brought a U Turn Round so the rangers could give it a literal whirl and hear the potential. While we love developing engaging signage (the cornerstone of park displays), we think audio interactives are underutilised. For some content, like Welcome to Country greetings, the spoken word is so much more emotive, meaningful, and relevant – greetings are traditionally delivered orally. The U Turn is also a deft way to present bird calls, marine creature vocalisations, music, frog calls and any other interpretive audio content you can dream up.
While this audio interactive generated interest, the most popular item we showcased was…dirt-scented oil. The spot-on scent made people laugh and ask, ‘why did you bring this?!’. While not every display needs an earthy oil, we provide banksia and other blossom scents to help visitors identify and appreciate local, seasonal flora. We’ve also used pungent sulphurs to flag the funky, seasonal smell of mangroves. Adding more multi-sensory features to displays adds depth, wonder, fun and fact-retention to a visitor’s experience. Why not engage the olfactory?
Our smallest showcase item was a tiny turtle hatchling prop. Well-crafted props allow visitors to see (and sometimes touch) accurate, three-dimensional representations of species they might not encounter in a park. The nature of the species or its conservation status or the time or season when a person visits – these all impact the likelihood of spotting species. Providing props helps rangers contextualise wildlife and foster connections between people and nature.
We also performed bold interpretive dances to communicate what we can offer the rangers (not true!) but, in truth Xzibit had a phenomenal time in the forest. We’re already dreaming up ideas for next year. We’re certain that our Xzibit showcase will evolve and improve by drawing on our ranger friends’ experiences and stories.