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About quokka

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  1. quokka

    DA Ch 16 - Boom

    Thanks mate, I’ve just finished writing chapter 33, and there is still no end in sight...
  2. quokka

    DA Ch 16 - Boom

    On the parking tarmac sat my beautiful biplane, which looked like it has also been given a good wash, and I loaded my bag into the storage locker, and began my checks of the plane, before climbing in and starting her up, purring perfectly as usual. “Port Hedland Air Traffic, this is Tango Juliet 1959, requesting clearance to taxi to runway, destination Corunna Air base, over,” I said over the radio, “Good morning Jex, welcome home mate, you are second in line after the RAAF VIP jet heading for Broome, over,” came a response, and I looked over to the main terminal, where the jet was taxing to the main runway. “Roger that, I have visual on the jet, nice bird to fly in as a passenger, enjoyed the trip from the east coast yesterday, preparing to follow executive Jet once it has taken off, over,” I replied as I smiled and watched the jet race down the runway and take off, heading north for Broome. Once I was in the air, I headed directly for Corunna Airbase, as I had very little time to spare, before the restrictions on airspace kick in, at just over two hours time. As I approached Corunna, I saw my vehicle parked near the operations shed, and about 200 metres short of the north end of runway two sat one enormous, Liberator plane, and it looked incredible. Port Hedland tower this is Tango Juliet 1959 preparing to land at Corunna Airbase runway one east, over,” I said over the radio, “Roger Tango Juliet, be advised air restrictions come into effect in fifteen minutes, over,” came the response, “Roger, message received, over,” I replied, as I turned the plane and approached the east end of runway one, when I saw two men run onto the runway, and I pulled up, and turned left, to see what is going on. Continuing a sharp left hand bend, I remained low, and made the decision to land on runway two behind the Liberator, with 300 metres less of runway room to land, and as soon as the wheels were down, I hit the brakes, to make sure I don’t run into the back of the newly restored Liberator, which was not a problem. When I was almost stopped, I taxied a little closer to the Liberator, before carefully spinning the plane around so it was facing the way I came, before stopping and shutting off the engines. When I opened the canopy, my vehicle was approaching with Hedley Parkinson driving, and he stopped close to the plane and jumped out. “Hi mate, we were not expecting you this early, and we are still checking the number one runway, as we have received an anonymous call that a mine has been planted on either side of the runway with a trip wire between them,” Hedley said as he shook my hand. “A bomb threat? How credible is the information?” I responded in shock, “Not sure, the 12 Airforce guys who have been here for a week no, are doing a sweep now,” Hedley replied, as I looked towards runway one, and I jumped into the cockpit and switched on the power. “Port Hedland Tower, this is Tango Juliet 1959, I am on the ground forced to land on runway two, as there has been a bomb threat on runway one, I repeat there is a bomb threat on runway one, please notify the RAAF executive jet, and suggest they land on the nearby Corunna Downs airfield next to the homestead, over,” I said into the radio mic. “Copy that Tango Juliet, I will relay the information, over,” came a response and I shut of the power and jumped back down. “Have the RAAF boys been using the Campsite near the boundary or … oh they have set up their own campsite, behind the operations shed, interesting,” I commented. “They seem to be enjoying their time here, there managed to get the Liberator together in just four days, so the past three days they have been just guarding the base,” Hedley said. “I see that all the sheds have been completed, have they been kitted out with memorabilia?” I asked. “They have, and the only new thing is a poly water tank situated at your new place, with a solar powered pressure pump providing water to the base kitchen, showers and hidden behind the showers are three modern portable toilets. Over at the main car park, there is an ablutions building, with 6 compost toilets, with water for flushing from the same pump, and washing hands in the sinks. There is a small hut next to the front north gate, which includes a bathroom and kitchenette, for whoever is on duty at the gate, with a shade lean-too, for two vehicles,” Hedley explained. “Well, things have changed a lot in just one month, and you mentioned my new place, is it like how Dad and I were planning?” I asked, and Hedley smiled as he nodded his head. “Yes, sort of, but the decking between the buildings is like nine metres wide, with a three metre wide and 12 ½ metres long lap pool in the centre. Plus you have solar and wind turbine power, satellite communications and television, and the gap between the house and the recreation building is five metres, to provide plenty of air ventilation on really hot days, and at the front there is three-two bedroom cottages, with a 2 metres wide verandah at the front,” Hedley explained. “Wow, I can hardly wait to check it out,” said just as we heard the sound of a whistle, and we turned towards the sound, where the men gathered near the centre of runway one. “They have found something, we better go and check,” I said and I started at a jog to make the 700 metre distance, which was quite easy for me, but Hedley was soon just walking. “Group Captain, what have you found, oh and I am not just an Army private, I own this base too?” I stated, “He is speaking the truth Captain, I have known this lad since he was born,” Hedley added, “Oh, ok, well the tip off is correct with the trip wire, it is hardly noticeable and it is so tight, that it just needs to be run over by a standard vehicle to trigger it off,” the group Captain said. “Can it be disarmed?” I asked, “Yes, but I advise that you all get well away from here, at least four hundred metres,” the Group Captain said, and we did as he suggested and backed away. “If the plane and these guys came here a week ago, then it must have been set in the past seven days, and who ever did it may be watching us right now,” I said to Hedley as we walked away, but I stopped. “Keep going, I will be ok… Group Captain, I need two of your men to be my eyes, while I fly around the area, we may have someone watching us, and if so then the VIP’s could be in danger,” I said, before I began to sprint towards my plane, with two men following, we were soon in the air. At first I did a wide sweep, covering the boundary of the base, which is about 28 kilometres in total, before I went down a little lower, and did a tighter circle about 500 metres in from the boundary, when the radio came to life, “Port Hedland Air Traffic Control to aircraft near Corunna Airbase, you are flying in a restricted airspace, land immediately, over,” and I looked at my watch, and it has clicked past the restriction time. “Tango Juliet 1959 to Port Hedland Air Traffic Control, the bomb threat is real, I repeat the bomb threat is real, and attempts are being made to disarm them, we also think that there maybe a person or persons, possibly armed with rifles, hidden in the surrounding hills, and I am doing a check over the area with two airmen as spotters, over” I replied. “Understood, do you want the Executive jet to divert to a safer location, over?” I was asked, “What is the planned eta of the jet at his location, over?” I asked, “Just under one hour, over,” came the reply, and I quickly thought about the options. “Inform them that I recommend that they divert to the nearest bare airbase until further notice, over,” I replied, “Received that, I will pass it on, over,” came a reply, as we continued our sweep. “There, spotters, I saw a reflection, at 10 o’clock confirm please,” I said over the internal intercom on the plane, “Confirmed, vehicle located 240 degrees, high in the hills,” one of the spotters said, as I turned to get a closer look. “Tango Juliet 1959, this is Captain James Eccleston, A Troop, 2nd Sabre Squadron, SAS Regiment, Campbell Barracks, Swanbourne, located directly below you present fly area, we are on a security mission to protect the VIP arrivals in one hour, over,” came an unfamiliar voice. “If you are here to protect the VIP’s, why did you not notice the two mines currently being disarmed on runway one, over,” I responded, not sure if they were genuine or not. “We have only been here for two days, and to verify us as friendly, you recently received a ASC-1, over,” the caller said to me. “What is a ASC-1?” one of the spotters asked me, “Never you mind, that is need to know business,” I replied, before flicking the switch to cut off the spotters from listening in, “Very well Captain, can you let me know how many are in your patrol, over,” I asked. “We have two troops on the ground, over,” came the reply, “Understand, the VIP’s have been diverted to the nearest bare airbase till it is safe to land,” I advised the Captain, which for my guess will be the one near where they were overnight,” I said, “Understood, we will do a full sweep and keep in touch with you, over,” the Captain said, and I prepared to land on runway two again. Once on the ground and facing the way I came again, I shut down the engines, and we all climbed out. “Great ride, thanks for the chance to experience flying in one of these,” one of the spotters said, “Your welcome,” I replied, as we walked back to the middle of Runway one. “We have disarmed the first two, and found another two about 200 metres further down,” the Group Captain said to me, Have you done another check of the first section, in case you missed it?” I asked, “No, do you think we should?” the Group Captain asked, just as there was an almighty double bang, and we all hit the ground. Once the dust and rocks had stopped showering us, I stood up and looked back, where I saw Hedley laying flat on the ground, and I dashed towards him. “Hedley, are you ok,” I shouted a few times, before I finally saw him moving. “I just threw a small rock off the runway, and boom,” Hedley shouted as he rubbed his ears, and when I finally reached him, I helped him to sit up. “Can you hear me?” I shouted, and he nodded, “Only just,” he shouted back, and I looked towards the sound of a vehicle approaching from the north-east, and recognised the vehicle to be one Australian Army Bushmaster and two Hawkei’s travelling at high speed towards us, which made me smile, “I got to get me one of those,” I commented to myself. One of the Hawkei vehicles pulled up beside me and 4 soldiers jumped out, “I am a field medic,” one of the men said, “Good, he has concussion and hearing loss,” I replied, before stepping back to let the medic get to work, while I went to look at the two big holes created by the explosions. “Hello Mr Kendrick, I am Captain Tim Eccleston,” an officer said as he approached me, “nice to meet you, Private Jexon Kendrik, one day fresh out of basics,” I replied as I shook his hand, “And travelling with VIP Dignitaries too, I hear?” the Captain said. “Yes, that was all thrown at me with no notice, I was preparing to head for a start of 1st semester at ADFA, when I was hijacked for this flight west,” I replied, “Interesting, I would like to hear all about it at a later time, where is your dress uniform?” the Captain asked. “On the VIP jet, I will have to get changed as soon as they arrive. I was dropped off at Port Hedland last night so I could fly my biplane here this morning,” I replied.
  3. Just giving each chapter a title...
  4. Just finished chapter three of the second book on Top End Dr; titled Dr of Dundee.

    i hope to have a lot more chapters finished by the time the current story is finished being posted.

    1. Terry P

      Terry P

      Does that mean that you won't post the second book until the other story is finished (Desert Air)?

       

    2. quokka

      quokka

      I may start posting it a few chapters before the current story ends, which is currently at 32 chapters

  5. “You mean Pine Gap?” I asked. “Yes, that is the one, we have to stay clear of it, as do all aircraft,” the chief pilot said. After an hour, the chief pilot took over from me, and he asked me to send the other pilot back, so he can do his job, and I gave a little laugh, as I exited the cockpit. “A bit over an hour to go, and we will be in Alice Springs,” I announced as I took my seat and secured the seatbelt. “How was it flying this compared to your plane?” the Major asked me, “A heck of a lot more instruments than mine, but I think I did ok,” I replied, and I snoozed for the remainder of this leg of the trip. As we landed at Alice Springs airport, I opened my eyes. “We have a vehicle ready to collect us here, to take us into town for some lunch at the Casino, while the flight crew rest and supervise the refuelling of the plane,” the major informed me, and I just smiled and nodded to say I understood. After nearly two hours, we were in the air once more, and we now headed south-east for Canberra, with our eta being 1800 hours local time, because of the time difference. I was handed a copy of the NT New newspaper, with the headlines catching my attention. “7 year burglary mystery solved.” “Police in Port Hedland announced today that an anonymous tip off lead to the recovery of over 3.3 million dollars worth of pearls and uncut diamonds, that were stolen from a Broome Jewellery store seven years ago. The jewellery store owner, who now lives in Port Hedland, was thrilled to have his property returned, and after paying back the money paid by the insurance company is settled, the owner intends to take a well earned holiday,” the article read. After two hours, the Major sat next to me. “Just a few things to fill you in on for the next couple of days, tonight and for the following two nights, you will be hosted by my wife and I at our Canberra home. At 0600 hours, the good sergeant major here will be driving you to Kapooka, which is our main basic training base, where you will do your 35 days of reservist basic training, after graduation, most soldiers are given orders of where they are to be posted. You however will return to Canberra, where you will commence your final year of studies, staying at ADFA as an academy cadet officer, and remember if anyone asks anything about why you are here, tell them it is classified, and if they have an issue with that, refer them to me at DIO,” the Major said, “Understood, Sir,” I replied. The two full days that I was in Canberra just flew by, after visiting the national war memorial I had a look around the capital, in between meetings with Major Hill. I spoke to Dad on the phone on the first night in Canberra, explaining, that I have been high jacked into the army, and that after doing a month of basic training, I will be continuing my university studies in Canberra. After I arrived a Kapooka, I had very little time to do anything, but concentrate on my training, which wasn’t too hard, even if the sergeant major was keeping a close eye on me, and suddenly I was standing on the parade ground, attending my graduation ceremony. When I saw Major Hill looking at me, he smiled and indicated to his left, and I looked that way and there in the crowd of parents and friends was Mum and Dad, who waved to me, and I smiled, as that was all I was allowed to do when on parade. Once the ceremony was over, my parents raced towards me, and wrapped me in a tight hug. “If Pa was watching you now, I am sure he would be very proud of you son,” Dad said to me, which made me tear up a little, as I nodded my head in agreement. “Major Hill informs us that you will be arriving in Canberra in a day or two, so will we get to see you before we head back to WA?” Mum asked me, “I am sure I will, I just have to wait for m orders,” I replied. “Which are right here, congratulations Private, you have completed basics,” Major Hill said as he approached, and I snapped to attention, “At ease,’ the Major responded, Thankyou sir, but I had Smash watching me the whole time,” I replied, “Smash?” the Major enquired, “Yes sir, Sergeant Major Alex Shackleton, with an H on the end, just a nickname I thought of,” I replied, “Interesting, I have not heard of that before, but it is clever,” the Major said as I was handed my orders and read them. “Catch the bus to Wagga-Wagga, and then the train will take you to Canberra, you can stay with us for the two days before you need to head to ADFA,” the Major said, “That is very kind of you, thank Mrs Hill for me,” I replied. “We are booked on the 1 pm train to Canberra, is that the one you are taking son?” Dad asked me, and I looked at my orders again, “Yes, that is correct, three hours on train then an hour on a bus,” I replied, “Good, now Mrs Hill will collect you from the Canberra Civic Bus stop a bit before 1730 hours, see you then,” the Major said before saying farewell to my parents and dashing off. After about half an hour of talking with my folks, they left the base, to return to their accommodation in Wagga-Wagga, and I headed to the barracks to start packing my gear, in preparation for the trip tomorrow, and I was looking forward to it, as it gave me a few hours with my parents, before I have to go to the Hill’s residence and onto ADFA – Australian Defence Force Academy. I had a great chat with my parents on the train, but unfortunately we were separated by some distance on the bus, but I learnt that all of my siblings were missing me, and sent their love, and they were all having fun during the holidays. When Mrs Hill collected me from the bus stop, I was expecting that we would be going directly to their home in the suburb of Campbell, which is next door to Duntroon, where ADFA and the UNSW is located, but instead Mrs Hill didn’t turn left at the roundabout, to go into the suburb of Campbell, but instead she continued on the main road of Morshead Drive, and a few minutes later we passed the turnoff to ADFA, so now I was wondering where the heck were we going. “Ok, I give up, where are we going Ma’am?’ I asked, and Mrs Hill chuckled, when we did turn left on after passing Canberra Airport, I looked towards Mrs Hill again. “Don’t worry dear, we are all going on a short trip,” Mrs Hill said to me, and as we drove along the east side of the main runway of Canberra Airport, I was starting to wonder, where we are going. Turning left again one block after the next roundabout and a short while later I spotted a sign on the side of the building – RAAF 34 Squadron. “We are going on another plane trip? Where too Mrs Hill?” I asked, and all I got was a smile, as she turned again and pulled up outside a building that said “VIP Terminal”. I helped Mrs Hill with unloading two of her bags as well as my own, and we headed into the terminal, where Major Hill was speaking to other officers and plain clothes man. “Here they are, did you have a good trip Private Kendrik?” the Major asked me, “Sir, yes sir,” I responded, as I dropped my bags, and snapped to attention and saluted. “At ease Private, “You already know Sergeant Major Shackleton; the other gentlemen are Minister of Defence, the Honourable Gordon Long and Chief of Army, Brigadier Anthony Triggs,” the Major said, “It is an honour to meet you both sirs,” I responded before saluting then shaking their hands. “Right we are just waiting for four more passengers, and then we can be on our way,” the Major said, as the doors to the terminal opened and in walked my parents. “Ok, sir, what the heck is going on here?” I asked, and Smash laughed. “Private Kendrik you have been Smash, hijacked to attend a VIP ceremony at Corunna Air Base in Western Australia,” the Sergeant Major responded, and I went all red when he said that which made the Major laugh too. “Let me explain, Smash is the initials and nickname of the sergeant major here, with the nickname thought of by the private here,” Major Hill explained to the Minister and Army Chief. We soon boarded a RAAF Bombardier Challenger 650 aircraft, with a female steward in Airforce uniform assisting us, as we all took our seats in the very comfortable executive jet that seats 18 passengers, which is a few metres bigger and can travel much further than the Beechcraft we flew in just over a month ago. When a limo pulled up near the aircraft, with Australian Flags on the front, I watched as the doors opened and a Lady and a man stepped out, and walked to the steps. “All stand for the arrival of His Excellency the Governor General of Australia and his wife,” Smash announced from the doorway as he snapped to attention, and we all stood up. With two seats on the left side and one seat on the right, in the centre of the plane and one seat on each side near the front and the back, Mum, Dad and were seated on the left side, facing each other, while I sat opposite on the right, with my back facing the small galley area. Once the dignitaries had taken their seats in the centre of the plane, with the Minister and Chief of Army sitting opposite the Governor general, we all seated and buckled up, as the cabin door was closed and the engines started up, and Sergeant Major Shackleton took the seat opposite me, and I lets out a small groan, which made Smash chuckle. Once we were in the air, we were able to relax a little, well I thought so. “Be a dear will you please Private and help me with preparing and serving pre-dinner snacks,” the steward asked me, and once again I groaned, making Smash chuckle again. “By the way sergeant major, the Major has kindly arranged for you to take a trip with me in my plane when we arrive in Port Hedland,” I said before disappearing into the galley area, leaving my parents and the major all laughing, and I took a quick look and saw that the sergeant major was not looking at all well, and he made a dash to the bathroom, which brought more laughter. “You are a cruel man Private Kendrik, we all know about your fancy flying and barrel rolls,” the steward said to me, as she began to show me what to do in the galley. “I try to be ma’am,” I replied with a huge grin on my face, which made the steward laugh too. Once I had helped with service of snacks, I took a seat again, as we would be having dinner, while flying over Ayers Rock, better known as Uluru, as the sun is setting to the west. This time instead of 5 ½ hours of flying time, we would only be flying for 4 ½ hours, with no stop required at Alice Springs. We would be travelling to Broome for most of the passengers to stay overnight, while I am flown to Port Hedland, to stay overnight, so I can fly my plane to Corunna in the morning, with instructions to land there no later than 0800, which meant I had to leave Port Hedland at dawn at 0530 hours, just as the jet is flying back to Broome to collect the passengers. Hotel accommodation had been arranged for me in South Hedland by Major Hill, so when I arrived there shortly after 2100 hours local time, I had a shower and went straight to bed. The next morning, after I had dressed in my casual clothes, I grabbed my overnight bag, and called a taxi, who took me to the airport, via a place to get a takeaway breakfast. When I walked into the private terminal, the familiar face of the chief mechanic was there to greet me. “My word you look fit as a malley bull, good morning to you soldier man, your plan is serviced and ready to go for your flight home,” he said to me. “Thanks mate, you are a genius, have a good day,” I replied.
  6. quokka

    DA Ch 14 - Drafted

    Once we had finished, Dad insisted on paying for it all, and I went into the change room and changed into the trousers, T shirt, green socks and boots, before we exited the shop with my duffle bag of gear, and ten minutes later Dad dropped me off at the front gate of the Depot, where the same soldier was waiting, and he looked me up and down, and smiled before opening the gate. “You could almost pass as an Army soldier, but that haircut will not do,” the soldier said, and I smiled, “I presume you have the answer to that do you sergeant?’ I asked, and he laughed, as he closed and locked the gate behind us. “Major Hill has already arrived and is waiting for you in the same room as yesterday,” the sergeant said to me, and I headed in that direction, and knocked on the door. “Enter” a loud voice bellowed, which made me jump before entering, where I found two men inside. “Jexon Kendrik reporting as requested sir,” I said to the senior officer in the room, who was a Major by rank, who smiled as he approached, “Welcome and thanks for coming Jexon, I am AK Hill, and the man with the big voice is Sergeant Major Alex Shackleton,” the Major said as he shook my hand, before I shook the Sergeant Major’s hand. “Jexon, take a seat and we will begin… the reason you are coming back with us, is that by no fault of your own, you have acquired a lot of information, of which a lot of it is still classified, the only way we can resolve this problem is that we ask you to voluntarily join the Army Reserves. “We already know a great deal about you, as our security services have completed a screen of your full personal history, and it includes the joy ride you gave the Police Sergeant from Marble Bar, two weeks ago,” Major Hill said to start off. “I admit that was intentional sir, he was the school bully when I was at school in Broome, and you could say that it was pay back for what he did to me and other younger students at the school,” I said. “I see, well that would explain a lot, does anyone else know about that real reason?’ Major Hill asked, “Yes sir, the Police District Superintendent here in Port Hedland is aware of it, he commented that it was the best laugh he has had in a long time, and my mother said I was very naughty, but it was a hoot watching him staggering away from my plane,” I replied, and the Major and Sergeant Major both smiled. “Right, because this is special circumstances, you will be undergoing four weeks of basic training, you already look very fit and trim, and I believe the Sergeant outside can fix your hair style. As well as your basic training, which will be done by the good sergeant major here, you will be attending a number of lectures each day, and you will be attending a number of meetings each week. Any questions?” the Major said. “Wow, I have suddenly been drafted,” I commented, and the sergeant major chucked, “You bet you have Mr Kendrik and you will soon find out all about it,” he said to me and I swallowed in fright. “His bark is worst than his bite so you will be fine,” the Major commented, “That is what I am afraid of sir,” I replied. “Now apart from the degree in Veterinary Science, you are also doing a degree in Zoology, is that correct?” the Major asked, “That is correct sir, this is my final year this coming year,” I replied. “Good, now once you have completed basic training, we will be asking you to transfer your studies to UNSW Canberra Campus. From there you can complete your two degrees as well as doing the one year Defence Graduate Programme, as a cadet officer, where on completion you will graduate as a junior officer in the Army Reserves,” the Major announced. “Wow, I had no idea that this would ever happen to me, but also in a way I am glad, as my grandfather was an Army mechanic during the war, and he served at the Corunna Airbase, that is why Dad and I know about the bunker, well Dad knew about it, I just found it accidentally,” I said. “That takes us to that point, as a result of you knowing about a lot of classified information, the COA –Chief of Army and MOD = Minister of Defence have decided to give you a level one security clearance, which is the lowest level of security clearance, and all the screen vetting has already been completed, and you are cleared to be given that level of clearance,” the Major announced, as he handed me an envelope. I tipped it upside down and an ID card on a clip fell out, and I stared at it for a moment, as it had the Royal Australian Army name and logo, a photo of me that looked identical to my pilot licence photo, my full name and some letters and numbers below my name. “That is your own Enlistment and Identification Number, which you will need to memorise, now that all of the official stuff is over, the very small ones, ASC-1 is your security clearance. Did you bring the items that you secured?” the Major asked, and I retrieved the photo frame and the container with the dog tags in them. “Good, I like what you did with the message, we will keep them secure until they are declassified, then they will probably end up in the National Army Museum. Now, we have a jet waiting for us at the airport, ready to take us to the airbase,” the Major announced. I gathered all my luggage and followed them outside where an Army vehicle was parked at the front, and we all climbed in, and not long after we arrived at the airport, and were dropped off outside the private aviation building which is where I have my plane stored. “Hello Jexon, are you in the Army now?” the chief mechanic said when he saw us enter, “Yes, I am, but I ask that you not mention it to anyone, as I am on a special assignment,” I replied, “Not a problem, lips are sealed, see you when you get back,” the mechanic said. “Can you take good care of my plane for me, I may be gone for a while,” I asked at the last moment, “Sure mate, not a problem,” he replied, as he waved and we exited the building and onto the taxiway, where a Beechcraft King Air twin prop plane was standing by. “Is that you plane, the cream coloured biplane, Tango Juliet 1959?” the sergeant major asked, as he looked out the window as we took off and turned to head south-east. “Yes, that is my girl, a 1959 Thuxton Jackaroo, a variant of the Tiger Moth,” I replied smiling as I looked at my plane one last time, and silently said farewell to her. “Nice plane, what is the range on a plane like that?’ the sergeant major asked, “About 400 kilometres at a cruising speed of 82 knots,” I replied, as we climbed higher, and continued southwards, and I closed my eyes for a moment to rest, knowing that I have a long day ahead of me. Less than half an hour later, I felt the plane starting to descend so I looked out the window. “You can see the base now,” I commented, and both the Major and the sergeant major looked out the window, “Wow, that is a lot bigger than I imagined,” the major commented, as I unsecured my seatbelt and stepped towards the cockpit. “Flight officer, when I last checked the winds were going to be south-westerly today, so land on runway one, from the east, which is the longest of the two airfields,” I suggested, “You are a pilot?” one of the pilots asked, “Yes I have a commercial light aircraft pilots licence, and I own a Thuxton Jackaroo Biplane,” I replied, oh so you are the guy who gave a police officer a few barrel rolls,” one of the pilots said, ‘Yep, that’s me,” I replied, “take a seat till we have landed please,” the pilot said, so I returned to my seat and buckled in. Once on the ground, I returned to the cockpit. At the end of the runway, take a sharp right turn, onto the taxiway, towards the sheds at the end of the other runway,” I said to the pilots, and a few minutes later, we stopped near the operations shed. “Welcome to Corunna Airbase, current population one,” I said as I returned to the main cabin, “Cheeky sod,” I heard the sergeant major say, and I just smiled. Once outside, the heat hit us in the face, because of the temperature difference from the air-conditioned aircraft, which is far better than my plane. “Wow, that is some heat you pack out here in the west,’ the major commented, as we walked down the steps onto the taxiway. “On average it is about 38 degrees Celsius, during the summer months, but I am used to it, just grab some water to keep hydrated,” I commented. “This is quite some setup here,” the major commented as he looked around, “Yes sir, but it was the boys back in WW2 who built this base, I am just putting it back the way it originally was during the war,” I said. “You have done a wonderful job of getting it to what it is now, I am very impressed,” the major stated, “Thankyou sir, we have a team of builders who have been assisting us with the work, and Dad is currently working on getting bits and pieces from that era, to fill in some of the empty space, and I presume you already know about our surprise main attraction,” I said in reply. “I do indeed, how many here know about it?” the Major asked, “Just Mum, Dad and myself, that is it, not even the neighbour knows about that,” I replied. After about half an hour of looking around, the Major stopped beside the old jeep located behind the operations shed. “Is this the place?” the Major asked me quietly, and I nodded my head yes before walking on, and the Major looked around the jeep a little bit before heading back towards the aircraft. Once inside with the door secured, “We have a 2 ½ hour flight to Alice Springs, where we will stop for an hour or so, before continuing on to Canberra, which is a three hour flight,” the Major announced. “Sir, if it is alright with you, the chief pilot has requested that Mr Kendrik take second chair for the first leg across the continent,” the junior flight officer said to the major, who looked at me, and I just shrugged my shoulders, partly because I was surprised by the request. “If he is qualified to fly a plane like this then yes go ahead,” the major said, and I smiled as I made my way to the cockpit and sat in the second chair, and strapped myself in. “Can we do a low fly over Corunna Downs homestead airfield, it is 6.5 kilometres south-east of here,” I asked the chief pilot. “Sure, you know the way, so you can take off and lead us that way,” he replied as I put on the headset, and I checked all the instruments and began the checklist, and when I had finished the chief pilot smiled and nodded his head. “Port Headland Air Traffic Control, this is RAAF flight 094 departing from Corunna Airbase, destination is Alice Springs, requesting short deviation to Corunna Downs, over,” I said into the microphone. “Roger RAAF 094, you are cleared to take off on runway one, to Corunna Downs and onto Alice Springs, have a safe flight Jex, over,” came the response, and the chief pilot looked at me in surprise. “They know my voice, because I have been flying a fair bit in the past two weeks,” I explained, as I checked the display one last time before releasing the brakes, and taxiing towards runway two, and turning onto runway one, I gave full throttle. “Nice takeoff, gear up,” the chief pilot said to me, as I did a 180 degree turn and flew over the base, and headed for the Corunna Downs homestead, which we flew straight over, and I adjusted our direction for a heading straight to Alice Springs. “Even though we are the Airforce, we are still not allowed to pass over the secret communications base south of Alice Springs, so adjust you’re heading to 20 clicks south of the base,” the chief pilot said to me.
  7. “That I will gladly do sir, I am just thankful that it has been found, after such a long time, it is truly a miracle. Mr Kendrik, may I have your contact details, as I wish to be in contact with you in a week or so,” the jeweller replied. Dad gave the jeweller his mobile phone number, before shaking all our hands and leaving, Constable in here please,” the senior sergeant called, “I will leave you to deal with what you need to do, and we can be contacted on this number. We are currently here in Hedland on holidays, while we decide what to do about the mess the escapee left behind at our homestead, so we will be in town most of the time,” Dad said. “By the way I heard what happened with Sergeant Brooks when you took him on a joy ride,” the superintendant said. “I would rather avoid that man, he reminded me that we were at the same high school in Broome, seven years ago, and although I said to him I didn’t remember him, I did remember him all to well. He was the school bully, who loved tormenting and bullying younger students like myself, so the joyride of barrel rolls was my way of getting back at him for what he did back then, although, I never told him that is why I did it,” I said. All three police officers burst out laughing, when they heard me say that, “My wife said Jexon was very naughty, but the look on his face as he staggered into the homestead was a hoot,” Dad added, and the officers continued to laugh, as we just stood there smiling, remembering that day. “Thank you young man, I haven’t had a good laugh like that in a long time,” the superintendent said before we said goodbye, and we were escorted back to the front and out of the building. Back in our vehicle with Dad in the driver seat, he turned to me. “Now what are we going to do with those other items we found, you do realise that the metal things are the dog tags of the service men who didn’t return,” Dad said to me, “No, I didn’t think about that, I was more interested in the other two items we found,” I replied. “I think we need to speak to someone in Canberra about them, as it may be still classified information,” Dad said. Once back at the house, we headed for the study, closing the door behind us, and I retrieved the number of the person I spoke to earlier and handed it to Dad. “Department of Defence, DIO, Major AK Hill” Dad said reading out what I had written, “What does DIO mean?” Dad asked, “Defence Intelligence Organisation,” I whispered in reply. “Since you made contact with them already, I will leave it up to you to talk to them,” Dad said handing back the paper to me, and I dialled the number on my phone. “Major AK Hill, DIO please,” I said when the call was answered and I waited as the call was patched through. “Major Hill, this is Jexon Kendrik speaking, I have an important matter to discuss with you,” I said when the Major finally answered the call. “Hello there, this is quite a coincidence, I arrived in Perth this morning, and the call had to be patched through to Campbell Barracks. Where are you and I could possibly come to you,” the Major said. “Port Hedland sir, the family is on holidays, call me on this number when you get here, and we can go from there,” I replied, “Right, see you tomorrow, bye,” the Major said before ending the call suddenly. “He is at Campbell Barracks, Perth, he is flying up here tomorrow,” I informed Dad, “Well I guess we will just have to wait till then,” Dad responded, and we exited the study, where we found my siblings all in the lounge watching a movie, and Mum was preparing lunch. We were half way through lunch when my mobile rang, and when I looked at who the caller was I jumped up and dashed to the study before answering the call. “Jexon, can you be at the Army Depot in Port Hedland by 2 pm?” the Major asked me, “Yes sir, what is the address?” I asked, and I was given the address which I memorised, and I was told that I would be expected, and to have some form of ID with me, before the call ended, just as Dad walked in. “I have to be at the Army depot here in Port Hedland at 2 pm today, not sure why,” I whispered, “Ok, I will distract everyone, and you can take my vehicle,” Dad replied before we returned to the table. “How about the family go to the aquatic centre after lunch,” Dad suggested, “Not me Dad, I want to have a lay down after lunch,” I said, “Ok the family minus one,” Dad added, and everyone else agreed. After lunch, we all helped to clean up, before everyone went to get changed ready for an afternoon at the aquatic centre, while I headed to the study, and I sat at the desk and looked up the latest news on the internet, to see if the news of the find has been reported yet, which it hadn’t. Once the family had all gone, I grabbed my wallet and keys, and headed off to the address given to me earlier, which is the industrial area near the port. A man in an Army uniform was standing inside the gate as I pulled into the driveway, and he partly opened the gate and walked up to the vehicle. “My name is Jexon F Kendrik, I believe you are expecting me,” I said to the man, “Identification please sir,” the Army soldier asked me, and I produced my drivers licence and pilots licence to the soldier, who looked at both forms of ID then at me, and back to the ID, before handing the ID’s back to me. “Thankyou sir, drive straight through, and turn to the right at the back of this building and park there,” I was instructed, and I did as he asked. The soldier approached as I climbed out of the vehicle, and indicated for me to follow him, and I was lead into a small foyer area, where I notice a large parade hall to the left, and we turned right into an admin area, and moments later we entered a conference room. “Would you like a cup of tea or coffee while you are waiting for the conference call?” I was asked and I said no thanks, before he left the room. I now noticed the telephone conference speaker in the centre of the table, and I sat down near the telephone located at the far end, and waited. Less than five minutes later the phone rang and I pressed the speaker button, “Jexon Kendrik speaking,” I said to answer the call, “Hello Jexon, thankyou for coming to the depot, where we are on a secure line, now what is it that you wanted to speak to me about,” the Major asked. “Well sir, you know how I mentioned the bunker, located behind the operations room at the base, well you may have heard about the prison escapee from Perth, who was roaming around the Pilbara,” I began, “Yes I did hear about that, go on,” the Major said. “Well sir, yesterday, the police informed our neighbour that the escapee had been found half dead from exposure, and the question was asked why would a prison escapee travel all the way to the Pilbara and be watching activities on the former secret airbase. Well sir, I woke up in the middle of the night with the answer. I was attending school seven years ago in Broome, at the time when there was a huge Pearl and Diamond robbery, which were never recovered. It occurred to me that seven years ago, there was just flat ground and old building slabs, but now there is the rebuild of the original sheds and buildings, and they are not sure where to look for where these items were hidden back then. Along with my father and also our neighbour Mr Hedley Parkinson, we went down into the bunker, and I located the two containers that contained the pearls and diamonds from that robbery. We presented them to the police in Port Hedland this morning, and the district superintendent called for the nearest jeweller to come and assess them, to see if they are the genuine article. Not only were they genuine, but the jeweller we had come to look at them, is the owner of the stolen gems, which was quite a surprise. Anyway, we found a second container, which we have not mentioned to the police, so only the three of us know about it and now you too. Wrapped in a thick oilskin material, we found a small box, and in it we found another bit of material with writing on it, and a heap of what I thought was scrap metal, but my Dad has identified as dog tags. The message on the material reads, “In memory of those who never returned from missions based at Corunna, 1943 – 1945. Lest We Forget. December 25th 1945,” I said. “Wow, you have found a very interesting time capsule and you were spot on to call me first, as those men are listed as missing presumed dead, and nothing more, because their missions were classified. I am glad that you have found them, it is a part of our history, which should not be lost forever, one day we may be able to reveal what really happened. Where are the items now?” the Major asked. “Locked in our safe at the house we are staying in, and only Dad and I have the six digit combination,” I replied, “Good, I will be flying up there in the morning, so say nothing and keep them locked up, see you tomorrow, be ready to come back to the depot you are in, when I call, oh and I would like a tour of your base too,” the Major said before ending the call. I relaxed for the rest of the afternoon, which was nice for most of it, as it was so quiet, until the family returned, and after Dad returned from showering and changing, he indicated for me to follow him to the study, where he closed the door behind me. “So, what happened at the Army depot?” Dad asked, “I had a conference call with the Major from DIO, I briefed him on how I came to realise that the stolen gems were most likely at the airbase and that the three of us found them in the bunker, and then I told him about the Dog Tags and the message, and he is flying up here tomorrow morning, and as soon as he calls, I have to head back to the Army depot,” I replied. “Ok, so I need to distract the family again,” Dad said, “No, I will just say that I am going out for a while, and head off right away,” I replied, “Ok, anything else?” Dad asked, “Yes, he wants a tour of the airbase, so I guess we are making a trip out there too, I am not sure if it will be in my plane or what ever he came in,” I replied. The next morning, while I was having an early breakfast, while it was still quiet in the house, my mobile rang, and I dashed to the study, to answer it. “Good morning Jexon, can you be ready to be at the Army depot at 0900 hours?’ the Major asked, and I glanced up at the kitchen clock, which read just after 6 am. “Yes sir, that is not a problem,” I replied. “Good, oh and pack some clothes and personals, as you are joining me for the return flight back to Canberra, via a short stop at Alice Springs, you will be there for about a week, and remember to pack jumpers as it gets cold there,” the Major said to me. “Err, yes, sir, see you at 0900, bye,” I replied and I hung up the phone just as Dad appeared. “Was that you know who?” Dad asked me, “It was, and he told me to pack some clothes for a week long stay in Canberra,” I replied, “What!” Dad said a little too loudly, “That’s what he said, no explanation, just get packed and be at the depot at 0900 hours,” I said. “We better get you some warm clothing, I believe it gets quite cold in the Capital,” Dad said as he dashed of to get dressed. We were at the store when it opened at 8 am, and we dashed around the store to find suitable clothing, and we even found some jumpers that looked like they are Army issue, so we bought two of them and some camouflage trousers, a few pairs of green T shirts, that also look like the real Army trousers, along with some black boots, a few pairs of Army green heavy duty socks, and also a duffle bag to put it all in.
  8. Thanks mate, hope all is well for you down in the apple isle
  9. Once in the study, and the safe was on the floor, Dad locked the door, so we would have no interruptions, and I carefully retrieved the historical items, and placed them on the desk, while Dad dismantled the picture frame, removing the backing, so there was just the frame and the glass. After carefully opening up the piece of material that has writing on it, I carefully placed it face down on the glass, and Dad put the backing in place, and secured it, before turning it around. We both looked at the frame for a few moments, before placing it inside a cardboard folder and on the top shelf of the safe, and after reading the instructions, we decided on a six digit code, which we set before closing the safe door and locking it. With the two tins still in my pocket, we exited the study, and we found Mum in the kitchen doing some cooking. “Hello you two, what was that box that you carried into the study?” Mum asked, “A safe to keep our valuables in, we have to go and do one more errand, we will have lunch in town, as we are not sure how long we will be,” Dad replied. “Sounds mysterious, I hope you will tell me about it later,” Mum said, “We will Mum,” I replied, before Dad picked up the keys to the vehicle and we exited the house. Less than a few minutes later, we arrived at the South Hedland Police station and we walked in, not sure what to expect when we present what we have found. “Good morning, we have come to hand in items we believe to be stolen from seven years ago,” Dad said tot eh officer at the desk. “One moment please and I will get the duty sergeant to speak to you,” the officer replied, who looked like she had just graduated from the academy as she seemed uncertain what to do for this enquiry. A large bloke in his fifties approached and he had three strips and a crown on his sleaves, “Good Morning Senior Sergeant. My name is…” “Jexon, if I remember right,” the officer said cutting me off, “Yes that is correct, and this is my father Flint Kendrik from Hillside Station,” I responded. “We met briefly the other week, when we arrived at your neighbours station, chasing after that escapee,” the officer said, “Yes well we have some more information about that,” my Dad said, “Well you better come in to a meeting room and tell me all about it. Constable let the senior constable know you are with me, and follow us into Conference room 3, with a notepad and pen,” the officer said. Once the constable has arrived and sat down, all eyes were on us, “Now what is it that you have to tell us,” the senior officer asked, and Dad looked to me. “Well, yesterday Dad and I were told about the escapee being found and returned to custody half dead from exposure. When we were discussing it with our neighbour Hedley, who told us the news, the question was made, why did a prison escapee travel all the way to the wild reaches of the Pilbara and be spying on activities at the Air Base, and I was thinking that question as I was falling asleep,” I began. “When he woke up after 2 am shouting, which woke my wife and I up, I went to see what was wrong, and he told me that he had the answer to yesterday’s question, and straight after breakfast, we flew back to the airbase to see if that answer was correct or not,” Dad added. “Ok, I give in, what was the answer, and did you confirm it?” the senior officer asked, and at that point I pulled out the two tins and place them in the middle of the table. “Now this has got my notice, any more information?” the senior officer asked. “Only that you think back seven years to an event well publicised and was never solved by the police at the time,” I responded, smiling broadly. “I’m not very good with riddles young man,” the senior officer stated. “Excuse me sir, I think I know what he is talking about. Is it the Pearls and Diamonds robbery in Broome,” the junior officer said. “Give her a gold star, you are spot on there young lady,” Dad said. “Wait, do you mean to say that these two tins contain those stolen items?” the senior officer asked, sounding shocked, “Yes sir we are,” I said, as I gently opened both tins, and pulled out both cloth wrappings and placed them on the table close to the tins. “Constable, go and get the camera, and then tell Superintendent Langley, that he is needed here urgently,” the senior officer instructed, and the lady officer dashed out of the office. “We will wait until the District Superintendent is here before you reveal them,” the Senior officer announced. “What is all of this about, that has dragged me away from my office, a senior officer demanded when he walked in, with the junior officer following, holding a digital camera, and right away she began taking photos of the items. “Sir, this is Mr Flint Kendrik and his son Jexon, from Hillside Station, they were involved in the initial search of the escapee, and they have just solved a seven year old unsolved case,” the senior sergeant said, and at that point, I unwrapped the two clothes. “Wow, behold the stolen pearls and diamonds from the Broome robbery seven years ago,” the senior sergeant said to his superior, as the junior officer continued taking photos. “Well, that is quite a find, where exactly did you find them?’ the superintendant asked. “Well th…” Dad began but I interrupted him, “Sir that is where it gets a little sticky. The land where it was found, was at the time of the robbery Federal Defence land, which more recently has become freehold private property, our property, so you will have to get Defence Force approval first, followed by our permission, before you can enter,” I said, and everyone looked at me in surprise. “Is that correct son?” Dad asked me, “It is, I looked it up online, and I have made a few phone calls, and I am correct with that information. Sir I will be happy to pass on the contact details of the person you need to speak to in Canberra,” I replied. “What young Mr Kendrik is saying, is that where they found it, is the old World War Two secret airbase at Corunna, and he is correct that it is Federal land, as it was excised from the pastoral property, but I was unaware that it had been sold to the Kendrik’s,” the senior sergeant said. “Who else knows about this find?” the superintendent asked, “Our neighbour Mr Hedley Parkinson was with us when we found it, and we only opened it to confirm our suspicions, before sealing the tins again, and it was reopened just now, in this room,” Dad replied. “Constable, not a word of this to anyone, now go and find the nearest jeweller, and ask them to come here right away, to make an assessment, but don’t tell them what it is,” the superintendant instructed, and the constable once again left the room. “Any idea what they are worth?” the superintendent asked, “I am looking that up now sir,” I replied as I tapped away on my phone. “It depends on how many carets they are, so hard to tell and I have no clue on the pearls,” I added. “Very well, we will sit and wait for the jeweller to come, to see what we have is the real deal,” the superintendent said. A good twenty minutes later the constable returned with a middle aged man, with big glasses, and he was puffing from walking fast. “Thankyou for coming so quickly sir, I would like you to assess these items and tell me if they are real and what they are worth,” the superintendent said to the man who just entered, and the Constable exited and shut the door behind her. The jeweller took a good look at the diamonds and pearls, “Two valuable items together, that is most unusual,” he said as he retrieved an eye piece from his pocket and took a look at one of the bigger pieces of diamond. “Gentlemen, if all of these are the same as this one, you are looking at a fortune just in diamonds alone,” the jeweller said. Suddenly a look of shook came to his face, “Tell me, are these by any chance items that were stolen from my jewellery store in Broome over seven years ago and never found?” the Jeweller asked. “That is what we are thinking they are from, just over a week ago a prison escapee was roaming around in Station country south east of here, and it wasn’t until last night that this very bright young man, put the pieces together, and with the help of his father and their neighbour they searched and found the items. I will go and see if I can find the original report of the theft for seven years ago, but it might be in storage down in Perth,” the senior sergeant said before exiting the room, where we saw the constable standing there as a guard. “When I asked the constable to find the nearest jeweller, I had no idea that we would find the owner of the lost items,” the superintendant stated, “If you don’t mind sir, I need to get some electronic scales to assist me with my appraisal,” the jeweller asked, “Go ahead but not a word to anyone, especially staff and family, until we have crossed the T’s and dotted the I’s,” the superintendent replied. Ten minutes later the jeweller returned, and he sat down and started to study each diamond carefully, and he wrote down some notes on the note pad and a book that he had brought with him. When he finished, he opened the book and flicked through the pages till he found the page he wanted, and he scanned the page, and compared the page to the notes he had just taken. “Superintendent, I can confirm that these are indeed mine, as they match the appraisals that I has done on them just hours before they were stolen,” the jeweller stated. “What is their value?” the senior officer asked. “As listed seven years ago, the 84 uncut diamonds, all at around 1.99 carats were valued at $1,260,000 seven years ago an now they are valued today at $3.2 million, and the Tahitian Pearls, which is because they are that darker colour, where valued at $1,800 each, which are now worth, about $3,400 for the each of the 46 pearls, a total of $156,400 and I am happy to report that they are all there,” the jeweller stated. I stumbled back a little until I hit the wall, then I slid down it till I was seated on the ground. “Are you alright son?” Dad asked me as he rushed towards me. I nodded my head yes, too shocked to speak, “I think my son is a little shocked to know he was carrying 3.35 million dollars of diamonds and peals in his pocket for most of the morning,” Dad said and all I could do was nod my head in agreement. “Superintendent, I would like to make a special request, that it be known that the diamonds and pearls were anonymously handed into the Police, and that there be no mention of our names or the name of the station we are from, or where they were found, in any reports of any kind,” Dad said to the senior officer. “Granted, we can do that, but it would be nice to know where exactly you found them,” the superintendent replied, “I am sorry sir, but since they were found on a Defence secret base, that is need to know only, and we will not budge on that what so ever, if you like we can do an unofficial statuary declaration that the items that we found we discovered by three people present, and that they remained intact from the time the tins were close at the site, until they were opened in this room today,” Dad replied. “I think we can cope with not knowing the exact location, don’t you think senior sergeant,” the superintendant said, “Yes sir, that is fine with me, and they were instrumental in alerting of the presence of the escapee in the area,” the senior sergeant stated. “Mr Archer, once we have had these items valued by another jeweller, you may have you items back, pending a return of money payed to you by the insurance company,” the superintendent said.
  10. You are right, and with the jeweller paying the money back to the insurance company as mentioned in the story, the jeweller gets to keep his diamonds and pearls.
  11. “Was the cottage I stayed in have any damage?” I asked, as I thought about my laptop computer and all of my university gear that I keep in there, “Not a scratch, and I collected all of that yesterday, including your computer, and it is with Mum,” Dad replied. “That’s good, I don’t know if they would believe me if I told them a mad man had gone through our home and destroyed everything,” I responded. Once back at the Corunna Downs homestead, I parked my Land Rover in the shed, and we headed to the plane, and we were soon in the air and on our way to Port Hedland, which is a 2 ¼ hour journey. Once I had made sure that my plane was secured at the Port Hedland Airport, we called for a taxi to take us to our temporary home, and when we arrived, there was just chaos, with younger kids running around, and Mum trying to get settled into the house. Once we had everything in order, and everyone had settled down, we headed to the shopping centre to get some shopping done, and I elected to stay back at the house, as did Rhodes, and we enjoyed the peace an quiet, that only lasted for just over an hour. “Jex, I need to borrow you laptop computer, so I can check my emails please,” Dad said as soon as he walked into the house with an arm load of shopping. “Sure thing, it is in the cupboard in our room,” I replied, as Rhodes, Wynn and I, are sharing a bedroom, with a single bed and a bunk bed. I tried to convince Mum to allow me to have the study as my bedroom, but she refused, and so I retrieved my laptop for Dad and he headed to the study to check his emails, and I soon heard him talking on his mobile to someone. “Why don’t you move your bed into the study?” Dad suggested when he exited the study about half an hour later. “I did ask Mum and she said no,” I replied, “Well never mind her, I say yes since it is my study, so come along and help me move you bed into there,” Dad said. “Jexon, I said no,” Mum called out when she saw me carrying my bed linen into the study, and Dad poked his head out of the study, “I said yes dear, after all, he is an adult now and he needs his own space,” Dad said, and Mum said nothing else and returned to whatever she was doing. Dad was on a call to Hedley when I came in with my last load of personal gear, and I dumped it on the bed and exited the study, “Hang on a sec… Jex, it is ok, you can listen in on this as it affects you,” Dad said, so I walked back into the study and closed the door. “I have spoken to my other half, she is all for selling up and moving, as we have made some preliminary plans to set up home on the airbase, and I have received an email from the mining company who have agreed to purchase the rest of Panorama Station, so I am giving you first option to buy Hillside,” Dad said over the phone. “… I see, well I will have to talk to Amanda about that, I had not even considered that option, leave it with me and I will get back to you in the morning… ok bye,” Dad said before ending the call, and he turned to face me. “Hedley has suggested a partnership with the two stations operating as one,” Dad said. “What are the size differences between the two stations?” I asked. “Good point, well you already know that Hillside is a bit over 1.6 million acres, and I think Corunna Downs is about one third of that size,” Dad replied, “So will it be a 25 – 75 partnership?” I asked. “No, mainly because the Parkinson’s will be doing the majority of the work of managing the two stations, while we concentrate on the Project, so it will be more like about 40 – 60, but that has to be discussed, when we get into preparing to create the partnership,” Dad replied. During the next week, every second day I delivered Dad to Corunna Downs Station, so he could have discussions with the Parkinson’s, while I drove over to the airbase to plan out the location of our new home, and Dad informed me that Hedley had received a call from the Marble Bar Police, to let him know that they had caught the escapee, who was hiding in a rock outcrop, half starved, and suffering from exhaustion, malnutrition and exposure to the elements, which I was pleased to hear. Apart from escaping from legal custody, the escapee was also charged with murder, criminal damage, and stealing a motor vehicle, and that he would be in prison for a very long time. Hedley also told Dad that the police have still not worked out why the escapee was spying on the remote airbase, and they doubted that they will ever find out. That night, I woke up with a start, and called out Diamonds, a little too loudly, as I retrieved my computer and started it up, just as there was a knock on the door. “Are you ok son, we heard you shout something,” Dad called out from the other side of the door. “You can come in Dad… I am sorry if I woke you. Yesterday I began to think of why a prison escapee would travel all the way to the Pilbara region, and the answer came to just now when I woke up, diamonds,” I replied softly. “What about diamonds?” Dad asked, “Remember about seven years ago, it would have been in my second year at high school in Broome, and there was Pearl and Diamond heist in Broome, and they never caught all of those responsible and they never recovered any of the diamonds or pearls?” I stated. “So you think that those items are buried somewhere on the airbase?” Dad said, “Not just somewhere, one specific place, where seven years ago there was no sheds on the base, just concrete pads, Spinifex and rocks,” I replied smiling. “The bunker, you think they are hidden in there?” Dad said and I nodded my head yes. “I only had a quick look at it once, and I thought nothing of it, as it looked like it hadn’t been touched since it was abandoned after the war, but now I think that it could be the right place to hide it, but they can’t find it because of all of the changes we have done,” I stated. “Right, first thing in the morning, we are going to fly down to the airbase and check the bunker out, but we will have to check that there is no one else hovering around the place,” Dad said before he headed back to bed. “Back again?” Hedley said when he met us at the end of the runway the next morning, “Yes, my son woke up in the middle of the night, with what could be the answer to a seven year old mystery, if you have a bit of spare time, would you mind joining us at the airbase with your front-end loader,” Dad responded. “Now this sounds very mysterious, does it have anything to do with the escapee?” Hedley responded, “Yes indeed it does, but we will tell you more when you get there,” I replied smiling. A short while later, Dad and I were at the operations shed, as we watched the loader driving along the number two runway, “If it had wings, it might fly,” Dad commented, which made me laugh, “Yeah right Dad, as if,” I replied. When the loader arrived, Dad instructed Hedley to lift and move the jeep wreck about ten metres from its current location, which he did, before shutting off the engine and climbing down. “You know, I was thinking about what you said earlier, what does this have anything to do with the escapee?” Hedley asked, “It is about a seven year old police case that was never resolved, and today, we may just do that for them,” I replied. Grabbing the shovel out of the back of my vehicle, I began to clear away the rocks and dirt that covered the hatch to the bunker. “Did you bring a torch from home?” I asked, as I began to sweat from all the manual labour. “Yes, I remembered,” Dad replied, “I have one in the glove box too,” I said just as the shovel hit the metal, and I continued to clear away the rocks and sand, until the whole hatch was visible. “A secret bunker, this is interesting,” Hedley said, “We thought just us and any remaining service men knew of this bunkers existence, but we may be wrong, if we find what we think is hidden in here,” Dad said as I lifted the hatch and climbed down the ladder. With my torch in hand, I did a quick sweep of the first room, before heading to the back of the bunker, where the Commanding Officers office is located. After doing a basic look around, and didn’t see anything standing out as obvious, I began to take a closer look, starting from the ground, and after about five minutes on my hands and knees, I felt the ground give way a little. Using my bare hands, I dug the ground around the area, which was not compacted hard, and I eventually came across a wooden box, and I scaped away some more until I could pull the box out of the hole, and it was a large table salt box, according to the very faint printing on it. “Dad, I think I have found it, far back room on the left,” I called out, and Dad and Hedley soon appeared, as I placed the box on the table and took a step back. For a few moments we all stared at the box, wondering what is inside. “Go on son, you found it, open up and see what is inside,” Dad said to me. I carefully lifted the lid, and inside, I found two tobacco tins, and a cigar box, which I lifted out of the box and placed on the table, and once again we stared at the three items. “Ok you open the bigger one first,” Dad said to me. I lifted the lid and found a thick oil cloth inside, that had something wrapped inside, and I carefully unrolled it, until we saw a group of metal things and another piece of cloth, which had writing on it. “In memory of those who never returned from missions based at Corunna, 1943 – 1945. Lest We Forget. December 25th 1945,” I read out loud. “Well son, you have just discovered a very valuable piece of history, as the base was closed just here weeks after that date, which we will make sure that it is kept safe, put it back in the cigar box and we will take it with us,” Dad said to me. Dad picked up one tobacco tin and handed it to Hedley, before picking up the second time, “Ok, lets see what these two reveal, one, two three,” Dad said and together they opened the tins. Both had a material of some kind in it, and both were lifted out carefully and placed on the table, before they were unwrapped. Hedley’s bundle contained lots of Pearls, while Dad’s bundle contained uncut diamonds. “Wow, so I was dead right with my guess,” I stated as I stared at the items, “You certainly were, and you have also solved a 7 year old robbery mystery,” Dad said. Once we had taken a few photos of the pearls and diamonds, the bundles were returned to the two tins, and we headed back to the homestead, and after some morning tea, and Making sure that Mrs Parkinson would not breath a word about our find, Dad and I climbed back into the plane, to make the two and a bit hour journey back to Port Hedland. From the airport, we caught a taxi to the hardware warehouse, where Dad bought a safe that is big enough to hold the cigar box, which cost over a $1,300 which I was a little surprised by. Back in a taxi, we stopped briefly at a newsagency, where Dad bought a picture from, before we headed back to the house, and once there we headed straight to the study, with both of us carrying the safe, and the other items sat carefully on top.
  12. With the north boundary fence and gate being 1.8 kilometres north of the car park and creek crossing, and the east gate being 3.4 kilometres from the airfield, it is still a manageable distance for those who are fit enough and prepared for hikes in this region. After dropping Dad off at our homestead, I flew to Corunna Downs, letting them know by radio, that I was on my way over, and Mr Parkinson was standing by the runway when I arrived. “Hello again, I hear that you and Flint have had a very early start today, hunting for the escapee,” Mr Parkinson said to me as I stepped off the plane. “Good morning, yes Dad woke me up shortly before 3 am, as the escapee had managed to slip past the police with his vehicle but he ended up getting it bogged just south of Woodstock Station homestead, at the creek crossing,” I replied. “I see, now what can I do for you this fine morning?” Mr Parkinson responded, “Can I borrow your front end loader for about an hour please, I need to pick up the remains of a jeep at the airbase, and place it behind one of the smaller buildings, as it is not in any condition to climb all over, but I want to keep it on the base because it is part of the base,” I replied. “That is not a problem, I will actually take it out there for you, I wouldn’t mind another look at the place from the ground, now that you have a few of the buildings up now,” Mr Parkinson replied. Half an hour later, with Mr Parkinson in the loader, and me in my vehicle, we arrived at the base, closing and locking the gate behind us. The jeep was the only item that could not fit into the shipping container, and after some thought about what to do with it, I decided to use it to hide the underground bunker, by placing it over the top of the steel trap door, so as to hide it’s existence. Once the jeep was secured to the loader’s bucket, Mr Parkinson carefully moved it into position, where I wanted it, and when I looked at it for a short distance, it looks like that is the place where it ended its working life as an Air base vehicle. With that job completed, I walked around the base with Mr Parkinson, explaining what each building used to be, with just under half of them now built, with a rooves and walls, but no doors or windows, that way there is nothing there to be damaged. I explained that we were sourcing items to fill the rooms to replicate what each building was like inside, with steel frame and wire mesh beds with kapok mattresses and pillows, and we managed to get copies made of magazines newspapers of the period. “Sounds like its going to become a fantastic War Museum when it is all finished,” Mr Parkinson said, “Yes, I do hope so,” I replied, as we headed back to the vehicles, and a short drive later, we arrived back at the Corunna Downs Homestead. After thanking Mr Parkinson for the use of the front-end loader, I took off and headed for home, where Dad was waiting for me, with a number of suitcases. “The place is a disaster zone, looks like he has attacked it with a sledgehammer or something, broken windows, all the appliances are destroyed, and he even destroyed the desktop computer. I’ve had to bury all of the ruined fresh and frozen food, and the chickens, I have given them food for a few days, so they should be fine, he even took a hammer to the batteries of all the station vehicles that are in and around the shed, thank goodness we have two undamaged, and yours over at the Parkinson’s place. He even started a fire in the machinery workshop, but the police were able to put it out fairly quickly, although some stuff is ruined too. I have contacted the station staff, I have extended their holidays by two weeks, so that we can decide what to do about the homestead,” Dad said to me. “Maybe we should just sell?” I suggested, “Your and have been seriously considering that, even before all this drama began,” Dad replied which surprised me, as there was a silence, as we contemplated this idea, which was looking like it may be a reality the more we thought about it. “How about we fly back to Corunna Downs, and collect my vehicle, I want to show you something that maybe of use for the future,” I suggested to my father, and less than twenty minutes later we landed at the Corunna Downs airfield. “Back so soon,” Mr Parkinson said when he came to meet us, “Yes, we have come to collect my vehicle, as I want to do a walk around with Dad to discuss some ideas,” I replied. “Hello Hedley, any more news on what is happening?” Dad asked, “Not a peep from them, I guess we will find out eventually,” Mr Parkinson replied. “You’re the first to be told this, we are seriously considering selling up, and now with all this drama happening, we are now looking at our options,” Dad announced to our neighbour. “I see, I would have to discuss it with my wife, but I think we would be interested in Hillside, but not Panorama,” Mr Parkinson responded. “Well that would be good to know that it is going to experienced and existing pastoralists in the region, and we have already sold one third of Panorama to the mining company. We will wait until you have decided if you want to take Hillside or not, before we put it on the market,” Dad said. “Any idea what you will do if you do sell?” Mr Parkinson asked, “We are not sure just yet, I guess it all depends on this restoration project, and what my oldest son here wants to do with it,” Dad replied. “We will be back in an hour or two Mr P,” I added, “Please call me Hedley, you are an adult now,” our neighbour responded, and I smiled and nodded my head, before heading for my vehicle. “There is a key to the gate padlocks on your vehicle key ring, if you hadn’t already noticed,” Dad said to me, “No I didn’t to busy to notice tiny things like that,” I replied, and we climbed into my Land Rover and headed fort he airbase. Once we had entered and closed the gate behind us, we stopped at the campsite, “I think when we are done with these buildings in a week or two, you can arrange for them to be taken back to wherever they came from,” I stated, “Sure thing, that is easy, as they will send out trucks to collect them for us,” Dad replied. Back in the vehicle, we headed for the airstrip, but instead of driving on the airfield, I turned to the left, to follow a rough, disused winding track, which eventually gets us to the west end of runway one. “Any reason for this rough detour?” Dad asked me. “Yes, this is the original track used during the war, I want to stop using the tracks created by visitors, and have it covered with stones and gravel to remove its existence,” I replied, “So keeping with the authenticity of the airbase,” Dad responded. “Exactly,” I said as we turned onto the taxiway and then north onto the track that heads to the north entry to the base. I stopped just before the creek, and stepped out of the vehicle. “As you know we have a car park here for visitors, and it is just 1.8 kilometres to the north boundary gate. I have an idea for a permanent residential building, 1.9 kilometres due west of here, along that track on the left,” I said, as I unlocked the barrier and swung it open, so we could drive through. Once I had locked it behind us, and unlocked the second barrier, that crosses over the track to the left, we drove through that and locked it closed behind us, before following the rough track west, on the north side of the creek, until we came to a small concrete water tank and the track bends left to cross over the creek, but we stopped near the tank. “I think this would make an ideal location for our new home, if you and the family are happy to move here and help with operating this history museum,” I commented, as I looked around the area. “Yes, I think that would be a marvellous idea, but we will have to plant some trees to hide the base homestead, so it can’t be seen from the base or from the car park,” Dad replied smiling. “I was hoping you would say that, now what I have in mind is we get cyclone coded modular buildings, that are easy to put into place, maybe have them on high stumps, to allow for possible flooding, with plenty of eucalypt trees for shade,” I suggested. “How many buildings are you thinking of, son?” Dad asked me, “Well there will be the main house for the family, a bedroom each for all my siblings, so five bedrooms, plus a two bedroom cottage for me, a multi-use building for social gatherings, meetings and recreation, and a two bedroom cottage to be used as an administration centre,” I suggested. “Is that all?” Dad asked smiling, and I laughed, “Yes I know it sounds like a lot, but we will need that much so we have plenty of living space for everyone, oh and also a large semi outdoor decking area to lock it all together,” I replied. “Sounds fabulous, do you have any sketches on how it will look?” Dad asked me, “not yet, but I will get on it as soon as I have a little free time,” I replied. “Well if we are going to get rid of the campsite very soon, we will need to have at least your cottage in place before they go,” Dad suggested, “Ok, I think if we put the main house and my cottage beside it, at the back, and the social recreation building and office building at the front, but I am not sure how big to make the deck area in between them,” I replied. After a bit of a wander around the area, to try and picture what it will be like, deciding to put it a little way back from the creek, which has a little bit of water in it, we continued following the track till it linked in with the aircraft pit access road, and I rove along the taxiway to the operations shed and stopped. “Just one thing I need to show you,” I said as we walked around the back of the building, where the vintage Jeep was sitting. “When Dad stopped he looked around a little, then took a closer look at the jeep, before chuckling. “So you know about the bunker,” Dad commented, and I nodded my head yes, “The jeep’s position is to hide its existence?” Dad asked and again I nodded my head and smiled. “Very clever, did you know that Pa served at this base during the war, he was the main vehicle mechanic here, keeping all the jeeps operational, including this one probably,” Dad said to me. “So that is why you know about the bunker, which I found by accident, when I trod on it and it sounded hollow,” I replied, “I wondered how you discovered it,” dad replied smiling. “Does anyone else know about this bunker?” I asked, only us two and any surviving members of the war, who served here, which is very minimal,” Dad replied as we climbed back into the vehicle and headed back to Corunna Downs. “Where do we go now?” I asked, “Port Hedland, Mum has packed up everything, and we are to fly there and meet her and the young-ins, I have arranged to rent a house in South Hedland for the rest of the holidays, and when the station workers return, I will get them to begin the cleanup of the mess,” Dad replied.
  13. This was at the station not the airbase, with all station airfields been gravel, which are slippery and a bit dangerous when they are saturated.
  14. During some recent research, I have discovered that some of the B24's are in the graveyard in Touscon, USA.
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