Home' Army News : September 17th 2009 Contents 16 CENTREPIECE
Fifteen years' construction work in less than five months -- no
wonder the remote community of Mapoon has welcomed the
AACAP troops with open arms.
Report: Fiona van der Plaat Photos: LS Paul Berry
AS HE leaves Mapoon, 85km beyond Weipa
in north Queensland, Spr John McCarthy
is satisfied with just about all he has
achieved during his four-month rotation
with the Army Aboriginal Community Assistance
He only wishes he could have bagged a barramun-
di, as many of his colleagues from 17 Const Sqn did.
Nevertheless, he'll leave with fond memories of the
fishing -- and of the difference he helped to make to the
Spr McCarthy is among the first contingent to
return to Holsworthy, having just handed over three
houses as part of AACAP's infrastructure construction
program at Mapoon.
Other works include improvements to the main road
and maintenance of the community septic system.
Spr McCarthy, who worked mainly on cranes and
"anything that involved moving and handling materi-
als", is a veteran of remote rotations, having been
assigned to far-flung posts for the past four years.
He is now due to stay put in Sydney for three years,
which will be a welcome sojourn for both him and
his ever-patient family. But part of him will miss the
friendly locals in Mapoon and, in particular, the cama-
raderie with counterparts from PNG and Tonga, who
joined their attachment.
Their time in Mapoon has even featured a royal
visit, as Tonga's Crown Prince Tupouto'a Lavaka
recently inspected his troops' work.
The AACAP soldiers have also been involved in
weekly sports competitions with the local school.
OC 17 Const Sqn Maj Paul Wright says one of
his unit's achievements, apart from the construction
works, has been putting six locals through a working
skills program. They have recently graduated with a
Certificate I in Engineering (welding) and have been
trained in basic carpentry, computers, numeracy and
He says his troops have done a "sterling job" on
the infrastructure works with support from some other
units, including reservists.
In the unlikely event he entertains any doubts about
the value of AACAP's work in Mapoon, he reminds
himself of a meeting he had with the mayor at the start
of the project. "He said the job we are undertaking in
four to five months would take 15 years to do on their
own," Maj Wright says.
FROM THE GROU
Australian and Tongan
soldiers work side
by side on Mapoon's
new houses (left),
while Spr Rob Muraru
adds some finishing
touches (below) and
Tonga's Crown Prince
surveys the results
Skilled: Army Training
Team mentor Cpl
Leah Childs (below
right) with local skills
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