Get used to seeing Will Cox around town
because he ain’t going nowhere. The
Parks Victoria Ranger in Charge, Great Otway
National Park, has his dream job in his dream
location. A Bay resident since 2001, life
here for Will gets better and better, especially
working in an organization that supports staff
striking the balance between work and family
life. That’s important to Will and his
wife Michelle, who have three young children.
Raised in bayside Beaumaris, Will had an
early affinity with the water and open spaces.
To live on the coast in a house that overlooks
the surf is the perfect, pristine environment
to give his kids the kind of childhood he
had, free of what he calls the plastic society.
What do they say about wanting something and
all the universe conspiring to make it happen?
It seems that Will is the happy victim of
a conspiracy that drew him here.
He can trace it back to the time in 1995/96
when he was working on environmental programs
trying to find full-time positions for the
long-term unemployed. One of those positions
was as a ranger at Albert Park. Now that was
a job Will thought he’d like himself,
so he applied for the position and got it.
So far so good, but notice the place and time.
Albert Park, 1996. The first Grand Prix.
For Will it was a baptism of fire in an intensely
political time. He couldn’t have been
burnt too much because, after a stint working
on the water as the ranger for Port Phillip
Bay, he returned to the scene as Parks Victoria’s
Albert Park Grand Prix Liaison Manager. That
made Will the go-to man to make sure the Grand
Prix corporation complied with the terms of
its agreement to care for the park for the
time it took over the public space.
With that behind him, Will took a secondment
to Mansfield at the foot of the snowfields.
That gave him a taste of small-town life in
the bush. For Will and Michelle, who met overseas,
if having kids meant that they wouldn’t
be doing the travelling they loved for some
time, then living in the country was the ideal
alternative. It had an edge to it that took
them out of their comfort zone.
When the position came up as the ranger in
charge of the Otways, Will was in the right
frame of mind to apply. In fact, given that
his family had a holiday house in Anglesea,
he knew the west coast well. Here was his
dream job. Here the conspiracy was complete.
All the pieces fell into place, even if it
meant leaving the good life in Elwood behind.
Life is about timing: for Will it’s
the perfect time to be here, with a government
investing so much in the region to open up
more public spaces and provide locals and
visitors with world-class facilities. Just
recently there’s been the trifecta of
the creation of the expanded Great Otway National
Park, the opening of the Great Ocean Walk
and the re-opening of Triplet Falls.
Will is now excited by the prospect of creating
an adventure market for the Otways and coast.
The link to Little Aire Falls is one part
of that, making Forrest the hub of mountain-biking
is another. He sees this patch of coast, walks,
forest and waterfalls as the ideal location
for the growing sport of adventure racing.
Already the outdoor clothing and camping company
Anaconda has sponsored adventure races in
Lorne. Will is looking forward to a three-day
endurance race planned in 2007 from the Twelve
Apostles to Torquay, with sea kayaking and
mountain-biking among the tests and trials.
It’s a long way from Albert Park and
the Grand Prix to adventure racing in the
hills and sea, but here you can bet Will has
found his perfect fit. You’ll be seeing
him around the Bay for some time to come,
certainly as a ranger and probably as an adventure
Will or the team at Parks Victoria Apollo
Bay can be contacted by calling the Parks
Victoria Information Centre on 13 1963 (within
please don't forget to mention Great
Ocean Road Trip when you do.