After 19 years working for the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) Blue Mountains region — including 13 years as regional manager — Geoff Luscombe says he is looking forward to a new challenge and a seaside shift, but will deeply miss “this special region and its people”.
“It’s hard to believe it’s been 19 years — I started here as chief ranger — but I can look back now and say the park is in pretty good shape,” he said.
Mr Luscombe began his new role last week as manager of NPWS Central Coast region and said NPWS Blue Mountains is in good hands, with former Central Coast regional manager Alan Henderson shifting to the Blue Mountains to become his full-time replacement.
“I know Alan very well — he is very experienced, he’s been in the service since the mid-80s and we both were senior NPWS managers in Sydney in the early 90s.”
Mr Luscombe said Blue Mountains National Park remains the most visited national park in Australia (although he admits the Royal National Park is catching up) and its large size and wide boundaries have helped to protect it.
“We are lucky in that regard and while I won’t say it looks after itself, if you can give it the right pre-conditions, it will.”
Mr Luscombe said among many memories of his time here are when the national park was declared a World Heritage Area in 2001, bringing in a purpose-built recreation and education program, the establishment of wilderness areas for future generations, providing award-winning visitor facilities and overseeing major upgrades of popular and heritage walking tracks to the highest possible standard, including the Grand Canyon and Den Fenella.
“NPWS Blue Mountains winning the gold medal for major attractions at the 2012 NSW Tourism Awards and a bronze medal this year was hard to do for an attraction like us that is not-for-profit based, but we are committed to presenting the park to the community and to visitors and generating in them a love of wild places,” he said.
“I feel the Blue Mountains has community spirit like few other areas and we are able to put aside our differences in the interests of the place, which I think is unique and special.
“I’m going to miss the community, the staff and that supportive operating environment.”