Home' Army News : June 23rd 2011 Contents 28 TRAINING
Army June 23, 2011
This activity ites
By Maj Haydn Barlow
DARWIN-based soldiers faced the
raw fear that only a prehistoric rep-
tile can induce in a training activity
at Crocodylus Park on May 27.
The soldiers from 8/12 Regt RAA's
Combat Service Support Battery con-
fronted a bevy of budding maneaters
head-on in the park's annual size-sort-
Bty commander Maj Mark Pearson
said although the crocs were less than
2m long, the activity had the right
"The activity's intent was for the
soldiers to learn how to function effec-
tively in a fearful environment involv-
ing perceived risk," Maj Pearson said.
"We received instructions from the
park on how to handle them correctly,
so it was quite safe, but there is noth-
ing quite like getting your hands on a
live crocodile, regardless of its size."
Maj Pearson said the activity was
one of the benefits of living in the Top
End, but stressed his soldiers wouldn't
be putting their new crocodile-han-
dling skills to the test away from the
Crocodylus Park foreman John
Tomeroy said Army personnel helped
efficiently sort up to 10,000 crocs a
year for the park.
"Moving crocodiles is a labour-
intensive job," Mr Tomeroy said.
"They grow at a varying rate, so
the big ones eventually start bullying
the little ones. To separate them we
have to drain their pen and then pull
them out, measure them and put them
into their new pen according to size."
The park also functions as a
commercial farm, and Mr Tomeroy
remembered fondly a time several
years before modern safety regula-
tions when the Army would help col-
lect eggs out in the wild.
"We would get dropped into the
swamp by helicopter, holding only a
boat oar for protection," he said.
"The soldiers would then collect
the eggs from the nest while keeping
a close watch out for wherever mum
might be hiding.
"Now that is adventure training."
YOUNG veterans have been given
the opportunity to exchange their
operational experiences through a
new initiative started at Singleton.
Instructors at the School of
Infantry have been attending the new
Veterans' Mentor Group, established
by School of Infantry RSM WO1
According to WO1 Murch,
recognising soldiers' experiences
and allowing them to exchange
memories was vital during the time
soldiers reintegrated into society and
readjusted after their deployments.
"I based the Veterans' Mentor
Group on a model that was used dur-
ing 2010 with 1RAR after the battle
group returned from MRTF 2," WO1
"Returning to a normal routine
is based on a layered approach that
may include counselling, definitely
includes leave and time with families
and, importantly, talking with your
The group approaches its gath-
erings informally. Attendance is
voluntary and participants are
encouraged to communicate with the
group as well as on a personal basis
"It is important soldiers want to
join the group, otherwise the dynam-
ics won't be right," WO1 Murch
"It provides an opportunity to
discover others are experiencing the
School of Infantry CO Lt-Col
Andrew Lowe said more than 60
junior NCOs made up the school's
staff and most of them had deployed
"Our veteran junior NCOs are
critical in achieving the high stand-
ard of trained infantrymen to go to
infantry battalions," he said.
Infantry trainers gather
to mentor each other
Little nipper: LCpl Aaron Bonner demonstrates his crocodile-handling skills during a size-sorting
activity at Darwin's Crocodylus Park. Inset, Gnr Leigh Brewer, Pte William Beasley, Pte Tim Kempster
and Gnr Nick Shackcloth go digging for crocodiles during the activity.
Photos by AB James Whittle
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