Puckapunyal is COLD. And windy, and cold.
It's also cold.
MonUR's monthly weekend training exercise was, as you might have
guessed, held at Puckapunyal last weekend. Being a Queenslander, I just
wasn't prepared for how cold it was going to be at night.
We arrived on Friday night at about 2100. Thankfully we travelled up
there on a chartered bus (with air conditioning) rather than on the IMVs
we used at 9RQR. Unfortunately, when we got off the bus I promptly
froze, even though I was wearing thermals under my cams. At least Friday
night wasn't supposed to be tactical, which meant we could all get a
full night's sleep.
On Saturday we had a nav-ex, which was pretty simple as they go, except
for the tendency of the waypoints to refer to a "knoll", in
the middle of a bunch of hundreds of other knolls. With the map that we
were given (the wrong one!!), we had to rely on another map of the area
that one of the other diggers just happened to have with them. That
didn't quite have enough detail though, which meant we were looking for
specific knolls in the middle of a bunch of other knolls where the
contour lines on the map were not quite detailed enough to make out
which one we were supposed to be on. Still, we managed pretty well over
all - only missed one waypoint, and when our platoon sergeant went out
there to look for it (with his handheld GPS unit, I might add) he
conceded that it wasn't really there after all. (It was supposed to be a
hill just north of where two creeks intersected, with a track running
over the top of it - pretty easy to spot, had it actually been there
Saturday night saw us playing enemy for the staff cadets - which
involved our sitting on the top of a rather large hill and lighting a
sodding great bonfire so that they could see us. Hours later, we were
freezing, still on top of the hill, and they still hadn't managed to
find us. Bugger. At about 2300 we gave up, put the fire out and went to
sleep. We didn't even bother to keep a watch as they'd had so much
trouble finding us anyway. (We intercepted a couple of their radio
transmissions and, from the locstats they gave, we decided that they
were definitely lost. We could see the positions where they were
claiming they were, but they just weren't there.)
On Sunday morning, we bludged for a while (playing enemy is cool ;) )
then set ourselves up to defend the hill. We presumed that, since the
RSM found us shortly after that, that the cadets would be on their way
soon. And sure enough, they appeared about 30 minutes later, slogging up
the hardest approach to the hill when they could have taken the best
route by circling around and attacking us from above. Anyway, they
attacked, we "died," and then had to play dead for a while
longer as the RSM gave them a lecture on how to deal with killed enemy.
They patrolled back to the base camp, and we hoofed it back a bit more
directly, so we had time to clean our weapons before they returned. A
few hours later, we were sitting in the sun, having a brew and waiting
for the bus back to MonUR.
All in all, a pretty cruisy weekend for myself and the other enemy; a
pretty hard one for the cadets. All good fun, though.