Around the grounds with Rachel Gale

16 January 2014

When Rachel Gale joined the Grounds team in 1999, she only intended to stay 12 months. Nearly 15 years later, she oversees senior grounds officers, gardeners and apprentices across the University in her role as Grounds Supervisor.

"I just loved it," she says, "I couldn't leave! The great thing about my job is that I get to travel around to different campuses and sites in Sydney and work with so many different teams. I love being out and about and finding out what everyone around the University is up to."

Rachel, who you might recognise as one of the new faces of our intranet homepage, is based at Camperdown and Darlington with Campus Infrastructure and Services (CIS), primarily looking after the outdoor fixtures and gardens, roads and footpaths with the Grounds team, but she also regularly works off-site to maintain the grounds at Camden, Cumberland, Crommelin and Rozelle campuses.

One of the highlights of her role, she says, is coming across unexpected projects and facilities, such as the oyster research, market gardens and Plant Breeding Institute in Camden, as well as the mushroom research facility on Camperdown Campus.

"Visiting our facilities at Crommelin Biological Field Station at Pearl Beach always feels like a bit of a holiday!" she says. The field station provides research workers and educators access to dry sclerophyll forests, sandy beaches, mangrove swamps and intertidal rock platforms.

While Rachel has always had a love of the outdoors, she says she "fell into" her role at the University after gaining experience as a gardener in Centennial Park and an apprentice at the Botanic Gardens.

In her time at the University, she has seen many changes across the campuses. "Buildings have become much more accessible, there are clearer pedestrian routes and cleaner, brighter, greener open outdoor areas," she says. "Last year, one of the team's key achievements was planting more than 8000 plants across the Camperdown, Darlington, Cumberland and Camden campuses."

Keep an eye out for changes and upgrades around the grounds in 2014. Among other projects, Rachel's team will be developing gardens around the Abercrombie Precinct and Charles Perkins Centre buildings, making improvements to the gardens and accessibility at Camden Campus, and installing recycling stations and reviewing irrigation systems at Camperdown to make the campus more water wise. The team are also working to replace most of the trees that had to be removed from Eastern Avenue last year and looking at ways to further increase our campus tree canopy.

"This year we're also looking forward to working with the Museums and Cultural Engagement and the Campus Improvement Project teams on the public arts strategy, so we'll be seeing a lot more art on the University grounds soon."