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Army August 29, 2013
mussels to border control
GLOBAL EXPOSURE FOR SQUADRON
ONE of Australia’s finest photogra-
phers – David Gray from Reuters
– was embedded with Capt Dusty
Miller’s patrol for the first four days.
Mr Gray took a series of photo-
graphs, which have since been pub-
lished in newspapers and magazines
around the world.
These include the New York Times
and the Chicago Tribune in the US,
the Guardian and the Telegraph in the
UK, and Le Temps and Paris Match
magazine in France.
Newspapers in India, Malta,
Malaysia, Mexico, Brunei and
Brazil also ran the photos and an
accompanying story, while other
newspapers translated the article
into French, Spanish, Portuguese,
Italian, Hungarian, Russian, Latvian,
Indonesian and Hebrew.
“Being able to join a Norforce
As “greenskins” however, they are
brothers. They chat away in Kriol, the
lingua franca of the Roper River region.
After breakfast of muesli from the
ration pack and oysters from the rocks,
the patrol moves along the beach. They
are in diamond formation, looking for
signs of recent visitors to the island.
They find their evidence along the
high tide mark: a number of gillnets
washed ashore, water bottles with labels
in Indonesian, a plastic crate marked
“Made in Thailand”, even half a bottle
of Indonesian arak – a potent alcohol
distilled from sugar cane.
None shows signs of extended
exposure to the elements.
As the patrol approaches the end
of the beach, LCpl Danny Daniels, a
33-year-old from Ngukurr, spots the
tracks of a saltwater crocodile.
They start in the mangroves and head
towards the sea, ending about a metre
below the high tide mark.
LCpl Daniels estimates the croc’s
length at 3m, and says it entered the
water an hour after high tide – the same
time Pte Thingle and LCpl Rami were
shifting the Zodiacs.
The Norforce patrolmen are armed
with F88 Austeyrs and carry live ammu-
nition, mainly for self defence against
The patrolmen return to the beach
where Capt Miller directs them to supple-
ment their rations with bush tucker.
LCpls Rami and Daniels gather mud
mussels and to cut down a “spear tree”.
While a dozen mussels cook on the
coals, the pair strip a 4m sapling of its
bark and heat it over the fire to straighten
LCpl Daniels, whose day job is camp
maintenance for a mining company, uses
hootchie cord to tie on a spearhead made
from a length of steel reinforcing bar.
After eating the mussels, the
patrolmen head to the beach with their
An hour later they return to the fire
with lunch. LCpl Rami has speared a
giant shovelnose ray, or “langij”, in the
Nunggubuyu language of Numbulwar.
Capt Miller is the patrol’s only non-
Indigenous Norforce member.
He joined the Navy in 1968 at the age
He was a junior recruit at HMAS
Leeuwin, then completed the clearance
diver course at HMAS Penguin.
“At 16 and a half I was checking
HMAS Sydney’s anchor chain for mines
in Vung Tau harbour,” Capt Miller says.
In 1975, he left the navy and went to
work in the offshore oil and gas industry.
He joined the Army Reserve in 1982.
Capt Miller transferred to Norforce
in 2007 after stints at 28 Independent
Rifle Coy, 11/28RWAR, and the WA
“I’ll keep doing this until I can’t keep
up with the boys,” he says.
Capt Miller, LCpl Rami, LCpl
Daniels, Pte Thingle and LCpl Perry will
cover 400km during their 10-day patrol.
They will find numerous “ghost” nets,
the wreckage of an Indonesian fishing
boat (which they will burn), and a secret
watering point made from materials
sourced from South-East Asia.
They will encounter a yacht, the SV
Delos out of Seattle, but it is not the one
sought by police.
In their salt-encrusted greenskins,
they are modern warriors protecting
Dinner: Patrol 2IC LCpl Vinnie Rami, from Norforce Arnhem Sqn, hunts for fish with a spear as the sun
sets on Wigram Island, part of the English Company’s Islands, in the Northern Territory.
Photos by David Grey, Reuters
patrol was an extraordinary
opportunity,” Mr Gray said.
“The resulting photographs are
uniquely Australian, and seem to have
resonated with Reuters’ international
audience, which is estimated at one
billion people a day.”
Gray joined Reuters in 1995 and
has won two Walkley Awards.
Tucker time: Capt Dusty Miller’s
Norforce Arnhem Sqn at camp.
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