Greg Irons’ passion for wildlife and the north-west of Tasmania started young. He started working at Bonorong – Tasmania’s largest animal sanctuary and 24/7 Wildlife Rescue Service – as a young wildlife keeper and soon worked his way through the ranks to become manager. By 25, he had achieved his dream of owning the business and set about making changes. Bonorong is a sanctuary for wildlife run by a passionate team of like-minded people. The skills and funds generated through the sanctuary allow us to proactively address problems in our surrounding environment and communities, which includes operating Tasmania’s main 24/7 wildlife rescue service. For Greg, the Sanctuary is a means to help Tasmania’s fragile wildlife and ecology. Since he took ownership, Bonorong has changed from a traditional, three-decade-old wildlife park to an innovative and active Wildlife Sanctuary. The Sanctuary is focused on giving back to the Tasmanian environment, with all funds put towards conservation projects – including Tasmania’s main 24/7 wildlife rescue service. We caught up with Greg recently and asked for his response to 10 questions. 1 What does a perfect day in the Cradle Coast look like to you? Rising early morning, cooking breakfast on a campfire and spotting any wildlife still wondering about, before heading off to explore the wilderness of takayna/Tarkine. Walking among ferns and myrtles is a must and of course lunch at one of the beautiful rivers has to be on the cards. The afternoon would include some time taking in a wild coastline, before some wildlife spotting with a quiet evening with a glass of Tassie wine. Perfect. 2 What do we do best on the North-West corner of the island? The landscapes of the North-West are as beautiful and unique as anywhere on earth – they are the gem in the crown and something so special to have in Tasmania. 3 Where can we improve? Tasmanians who have hardly visited or only once many years ago, need to get planning and get up to the North-West, especially with friends or family visiting. We are all very quick to head to just the “big-ticket items” and miss out on many places as spectacular as you will ever see. Plan to get there! Do it! 4 What would you like to see more of? And less of? I believe tourism is a major opportunity for North-West Tassie that hasn’t been fully capitalised on. It can be done smartly: by protecting the environment, while providing jobs and economy for the area. Tasmania has a very high return visitor rate – people looking for more to do after their first visit – and the North-West of Tassie has everything to offer. I would like to see the proposal for the Trans-takayna/Tarkine Track – a world-class 10-day walk (that can also be done over two five-day stints) get up and running to show people just how diverse, unique and amazing the North-West landscapes are, while really reminding people of the cultural history that must always be remembered and respected. The opportunities for other tourism ventures, once this walk is a household name, would be phenomenal. 5 If you could swap your life for a day, who would you switch it with? Tough question. Someone like David Attenborough, in a really remote untouched part of the world, just observing nature doing its thing, in order to share it with the world, that would be pretty special. 6 Where is the Cradle Coast’s most romantic location? The heart of takayna/Tarkine. Among the ferns and mossy myrtles, sitting by the Husskisson River. 7 Would you like to share any hidden gems? The north-west of Tasmania! It is the gem so many people are not aware of. 8 What makes you most proud of being a Tasmanian? I am proud of our wildlife and diverse forests. They are something that can be found are nowhere else in the world but here. With that comes the responsibility to identify, understand and protect. This doesn’t mean we cannot share it, but protecting it is important. I am proud of what has been achieved to protect some special places, while still sharing them and hope this will get even better moving forward. 9 What do you miss most when you are away from home? Clean air, friendly people, wildlife, and everything that is not a big city. 10 You’re marketing the Cradle Coast in 30 seconds, what’s your elevator pitch? As pure, beautiful, unique and ancient as anywhere on the planet. A place that makes you remember that we are just a small dot in history, with the ability to achieve so much good, or so much damage. Head to the North West – take a deep breath, look around and remember how lucky we are to have places like the environment of North West on this earth.