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24 June, 2022

Navy officers in Balladoran

Navy personnel graced a property in Balladoran, while they participated in their well-being adventure training activity last month.

By Emily Middleton

Nineteen personnel from FSU SE-K and the Navy Gap Year program attended the weeklong program, which included hikes in the Warrumbungle National Park, team collaboration activities, and various other adventures. The visit aimed to provide the navy with an outlet of physical activities and community engagement opportunities, as part of their mental health action plan.

“The experiences for the troops were invaluable and was approached with enthusiasm and gusto,” said petty officer McGovern.

“The colder weather just added to the fun, and I believe by the last day they were starting to understand that life in the country still runs on the clock. i.e. if we say 0700 we mean 0700.”

On day three of the trip, all participants visited Dan O’Conner and Tracee Smith’s farm, ‘Frankland’, in Balladoran. Some team members were taken by Mr O’Conner to the outer areas of the farm to chop down small trees growing through fences, while others were taken to remove damaged and old fencing with farm machinery.

“The farm was a very good experience especially for me as I have never worked on a farm before and getting the chance to do things that I thought I would never do, like driving a truck and getting taught how to drive and control a tractor, driving the buggy,” said seaman Nicola Beeston-Walshe.

Participants were taught how to use chainsaws and fencing tools, and some were taught how to drive John Deer tractors and quadbikes.

“Getting to know Dan and Tracee and hear their stories about working on the land and showing us around their farm was awesome,” said leading seaman Michael Miles.

“To interact with people outside the navy lifestyle was an amazing insight of what life is like, and being appreciative to see how hard they work to make a living and keeping up the high levels of maintenance of the property.”

In the afternoon of the third day, participants were taken to the shearing sheds, where some sailors took part in the shearing.

“Sailors enjoyed the experience of shearing and how strong sheep are when not held properly,” said divisional officer Jim Lawless.

“All sheep were shorn, and the participants returned to the farm to load the wool bales on the truck...however, this did not go as plan as the truck got bogged and a large tractor was required to pull it out.

“Again, this did not work as well, so the sailors tried muscle power which helped and the truck was finally released from the mud.

“Dan was extremely happy with the might and power of the sailors and the tenacity to get in and have a go.”

Property owner Ms Smith said the visit from the navy was a great day, and everybody enjoyed themselves. This won’t be their last visit though, according to Ms Smith, as the program is set to return in coming years.

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