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    quokka
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Survival - 1. Surv Chapter 1

Since the age of 12, I have had the opportunity to spend two holidays a year, with my Uncle Nat, who is a Major in the Australian Army, going on adventure camping trips to some very amazing places. For my first hike in the Autumn holidays, shortly after my 12th birthday, my uncle took me on a 7 - day hiking trek along the Heyson’s Trail through the Flinders Ranges. In the Spring that same year we travelled to Western Australia, where we spent 7 days trekking on the lower end of the Bibbulmun Track.

At 13, Uncle Nat and I returned to Western Australia, to complete the Cape to Cape walk in the far south west of the state, and in the Spring that same year we travelled to Western Australia, to explore the north west, where we visited Karijini National Park, and climbed Mt MeHarry, the highest mountain in the state, we also visited Millstream Chichester National Park, in the Pilbara region, and the Kennedy Ranges and Mount Augustus National Park, which is the largest Monolith in the world.

In the summer, we walked the Overland Track in the Cradle Mountains of Tasmania, including climbing Mt Ossa, the tallest mountain in Tasmania, were there was still some snow in the area.

Now age 14, after a trek during the Autumn holidays, to Queensland to complete the Fraser Island walk, which was amazing, with the Spring holidays approaching, my uncle was taking me on a hiking trek to Mount Woodroffe, the highest peak in my home state of South Australia. The hike to the 1435-metre high peak, and is a 12-kilometre return trip, expected to take 6 to 8 hours to complete.

At the boarding school that I attended, I spend a lot of my spare time doing sporting activities, so I was at a good fitness level to do this trek. Travelling from my home town of Belair, a southern suburb of Adelaide, we travelled north to Port Augusta, on the Sunday morning of the school holidays, where we stopped for lunch, before travelling north to Coober Pedy for our overnight stop.

After an exhausting 850 - kilometre journey, we decided to spend day two of the trip, looking around the opal capital of Australia, and we found a lot of interesting things to check out and explore. After a second night at Coober Pedy, we continued north, where Uncle Nat announced that we would be spending our next night in Alice Springs, in the Northern Territory, which surprised me a little.

After 780 kilometres, we arrived in the late afternoon, and booked into our accommodation, in the central Australian city, and we went for a walk around the town to have a look about, before dark. The following day, we had a late breakfast, before we went to check out some of the local tourist attractions, before having a quick lunch, and heading south down the Stuart Highway, then west to Uluru for our next overnight stop.

We watched a spectacular sunset over Uluru, before heading to the restaurant for dinner. The next morning we were up early to watch the sun rise over Uluru, which was just as spectacular as the sunset the night before, and once this was over, we headed to the local Indigenous Affairs Office, to collect our permit, for access to get to Mt Woodroffe, which is just south of the Northern Territory / South Australia border, with access off the Gunbarrel Highway, with 114 kilometres of mostly gravel roads before reaching the border.

From the border it is another 112 kilometres to the carpark, for the start of the trek, with an overnight stop over at Murnyi Homestead, which is remote serviced accommodation, about 3 hours west of the carpark. Although it is only 135 km’s to the accommodation, the rough gravel roads, made the journey 6 hours long, and we had stopped on the side of the road for a few sandwiches for lunch.

At 6am the next morning, we made the 3 - hour journey east to the base carpark of Mt Woodroffe, and with a backpack of food, water and cameras, we began the 6 - hour return journey to the peak, and the second highest peak, before returning to the vehicle, and driving back to the accommodation at Murnyi Homestead.

I was totally exhausted with all the long-distance travelling, and the long hike, as we arrived at the accommodation, just after 6pm that evening. After a long hot shower and a quick dinner, I crashed for the night, and didn’t wake up till after 9am the next morning.

Uncle Nat had our luggage already packed, and he had already eaten, so once I had finished my breakfast, we set off for the 6 - hour journey back to Uluru, for another overnight stop, for the start of the journey back home. From Uluru, it was a two-day journey back home, with an overnight stop in Coober Pedy again.

Mum and Dad were away for a weekend break, when we arrived, and a message left for me, asked for me to stay with Uncle Nat till they return, on Monday afternoon. Since I was still on school holidays, and Uncle Nat had to return to work tomorrow, I was not sure what to do, as I handed the note over to him.

Uncle Nat frowned, and I could see that he was trying of think of a solution, “Well, I guess I will have to find you something to do at Woodside then doesn’t it”, Uncle Nat announced to me, mentioning the Army base where he is based at, with the 1st Air Ground Operations Battery, 16th Air Land Regiment of the 6th Brigade.

Once I had put all my dirty clothes in the washing machine, and had a shower, I packed an overnight bag, and hung out the washing, before we headed to Uncle Nat’s apartment, which is close to the base, about 20 km’s to the north east of home.

I had stopped overnight at my uncle’s place before, so it was not a problem to stay there again, and once I had stowed my bag away in the spare room, I retrieved a book from the bookshelf, and sat down on the lounge and began to read the novel, while Uncle Nat prepared some dinner.

I had been to the Army base once before, when I was 9 years old, during an Army Open day at the base, and again recently for an School Army Cadet tour of the base, I knew that Uncle Nat was a training officer at the base, and that he has the training and a license to fly Sikorsky S-70 Black Hawk helicopters, and Bushmaster PMV’s.

At 6am the next morning, Uncle Nat woke me up, and he was already dressed in his work uniform. “Up and Adam cadet, we need you to get dressed and fed, before we go back to your place for your cadet uniform and ID” Uncle Nat said to me, and dressed in just my boxers, I jumped out of bed and snapped to attention. “Sir, yes sir” I replied, then gave a little smile, before I commenced to get dressed, then headed to the bathroom.

Ten minutes later, we were in the car and on our way back to my place, which was a twenty-minute drive, and it took me just five minutes to get into the house, into my room and fully dressed in my cadet uniform, along with my Cadet ID card attached to my pocket. Back in the car, we headed back to Woodside, arriving at the front security gate of the base at 6.55am.

Once I was signed in as a visitor, we drove into the base, and headed for Uncle Nat’s office, in the second building from the main administration building. The office was about the same size as my bedroom, with one main desk, and a second desk, which is not in use at the moment, and this is where I sat down, while Uncle Nat checked his emails for anything that may have been sent, since mid-afternoon last Friday, when he knocked off early so as to prepare for the trip north.

I turned on the computer, and slotted my camera memory card into it, to download all the photos that I had taken over the past week of travels, and I looked at each one carefully, deleting any that were out of focus, or just not good enough to keep.

I was about to delete another photo, after viewing nearly 200 so far, when I spotted something in the background, and I enlarged the photo some more for a better view, but it started to blur the more I enlarged it, but I could see enough to be worried.

“Uncle Nat, I think you need to set his?” I said, as I continued to stare at the computer screen, and soon my Uncle was looking over my shoulder seeing what I was seeing. “Are there any other photos of this guy watching us?” Uncle Nat asked me. “Not that I have noticed, but now I have seen this, I am going to start again, and check every photo” I replied, as my Uncle picked up the phone next to me, and he dialled a number.

“This is Major Nathan Blackwood, I have a priority two alert, this is not a drill, have my car checked for explosives or anything unusual, I will notify the Brigadier” Uncle Nat said into the phone, then hung up. Suddenly there was a siren going, which made me jump at first.

“Stay here, don’t go anywhere, while we check this out, and keep checking those photos” Uncle Nat told me before he dashed out of the office.

Seeing that there is a big screen on the wall, I soon worked out how to connect it up with the computer, and I posted the first photo onto the big screen, so it was easier to see. By the time Uncle Nat returned and the siren was silenced, I had seven photos in total on the big screen.

Moments after Uncle Nat entered the office, his commanding officer entered, and I stood up and snapped to attention, “Sir this is my nephew, Cadet Staff Sergeant Jacob Blackwood, from the St John’s Grammar School Cadet Unit, he and I have spent the past week on a camping trip to Alice Springs, Uluru and Mt Woodroffe” Uncle Nat said introducing me to the Brigadier.

“Nice to meet you cadet, I have been to Mt Woodroffe, it’s quite a journey just getting there, before you even start the climb” the Brigadier said to me, as he shook my hand, “It’s an honour to meet you sir” I replied.

“This is all that you have found so far, is it Jacob?” my uncle asked me as he looked up at the big screen, “Yes sir, I still have about fifty more photos to check, but that is all so far” I replied, as I watched my uncle and the Brigadier study the photos carefully.

“I think you have made the right move here Major, there is definitely something not right here” the Brigadier commented, as he stepped towards the main desk, and picked up the phone. “Brigadier Purnell here, connect me to the Major General at the DIO” the Brigadier said into the phone, before facing us.

“Major, can you take your nephew to the main administration building, and stay there with him, till I call for you” the Brigadier said, and Uncle Nat and I headed out of the office, and building.

Once outside, I saw a lot of army personnel on the base, and every single one of them was armed, which shocked me a little. “That Priority two alert that I called for, means we are in lockdown, and the DIO is short for the Defence Intelligence Organisation” Uncle Nat explained to me, as we walked over to the administration building, and showed our ID cards, before we were let inside the locked building.

I was placed in a conference room, and Uncle Nat went to the vending machine to get me some snacks and drinks, since he was not sure how long this would last. “Is it that serious that the DIO has to be called?” I asked my uncle when he returned, arms full of junk food.

“Yes, we think that there may be a threat of some kind, we are just not sure if it is you, me or the army, I will have to call your folks and let them know that you are here, and that we are in lockdown, we will have to see if we are going to be here any longer than just today” Uncle Nat said to me. “I have my overnight bag with me in your car, so I have another set of clothes apart from the ones I wore this morning, and a second set of uniform as well” I said to my uncle, who smiled.

“Good to see that you came prepared nephew, you will make a great Army officer one of these days” my uncle said to me smiling, “How long till I can take over your job uncle?” I asked with a big grin, which made my uncle laugh out loud, just as the Brigadier walked in, and we stood up and snapped to attention. “At Ease men” the Brigadier said, and he motioned us to sit down.

When the Brigadier stepped towards me, he placed a manila folder in front of me and held his hand down on it, to signal not to open it, before motioning me to stand. “Cadet Blackwood, please raise your right hand and say after me” the Brigadier said to me, which shocked me and I glanced over to my uncle who was just as shocked, but his expression soon changed to a smile.

I, Cadet Staff Sergeant Jacob Simba Blackwood… swear that I will well and truly serve Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second… Her Heirs and Successors according to law… as a member of the Australian Army, and that I will resist her enemies and faithfully discharge my duty according to law. So, Help Me God!” I said, repeating everything the Brigadier said, still unsure what was going on.

The Brigadier leaned forward and opened the folder on the desk, “Can you please sign the Defence Force Oath form, plus the five AGSVA forms in this folder” the Brigadier asked, and I looked at my uncle who smiled and nodded his head to go ahead with the request. Once I had signed the forms, Uncle Nat stepped forward and signed the forms as a witness, before the Brigadier closed the folder and left the room.

“What on earth was all of that about?” I asked my uncle in a confused manner, “Well you have been sworn in officially into the Army, even thou you are only a Cadet Staff Sergeant, which I may add is quite an achievement, considering that you have only been a cadet for 2 ½ years. The AGSVA forms are something very special, I have filled in and signed those forms myself, just before I was promoted to Major and transferred to the 16th Air Land Regiment.

The AGSVA means Australian Government Security Vetting Agency, what you sign on those forms, is the authorisation for an application, I have made for you to get Australian Government Security Clearance, at the moment I am not sure what level clearance you will have, but there are only five levels, of which I have level 3, the middle level clearance, this is mainly because of the photos that you took and have seen” my uncle explained to me.

“Wow, now that is something I was not expecting” I commented, “you my dear nephew, are the first ever Army cadet, and probably the youngest ever person to gain a AG security clearance, and it is something that you cannot brag about,” Uncle Nat said to me sternly, “Message received and understood sir” I responded.

 

Copyright January 2019 Preston Wigglesworth All Rights are Reserved
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Chapter Comments

This was an Awesome chapter. Jacob has had quite the adventure during his time with his uncle. Now that they have returned home they find out that their time together isn’t over as Jacob’s parents are away for a weekend holiday and aren’t due to return until Monday afternoon. Because they won’t be home until Monday afternoon Uncle Nat as Jacob calls him had to take Jacob to the base with him making sure that he had time to go back to his house to retrieve his cadet uniform, once he had his uniform and another change of clothes they headed for the base. Once they were on the base they went to Nathan’s office where Jacob took the empty desk and started reviewing the pictures they took while on their holiday, as he was going through the pictures on the computer he was about to delete another one because it was to blurry to really see anything, then he spotted something that looked out of place and after enlarging it he saw a man watching them, he had his uncle look at it and then his uncle called for a priority 2, right after that Jacob heard a siren go off and he jumped a little bit his uncle told him that it was okay as it was part of the alert. When uncle Nathan returned to his office Jacob had a total of 7 pictures up on the big screen in the office, once they reviewed those ones Nathan was asked to take Jacob to the administration building where they went into a conference room to wait. The Brigadier came in with a folder which he put on the table and put his hand on it meaning that it was classified, he asked Jacob to stand and to repeat after him. What Jacob didn’t know was that he was swearing his oath to the queen and her heirs as well as the country. Afterwards he had to sign two forms one of which was to give him a security clearance and his uncle informed him that he was the youngest person, as well as the only cadet sworn in to the army. This seems like it’s going to be a great story and I can’t wait to read more chapters.

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Wow...what a start to another Quokka story!!! I can't wait to see where this goes...I certainly did not see where this was going!!!

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9 hours ago, mayday said:

Hmhm. I wonder where his parents are...

Busy working, more info about them later in the story

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Wow.

Now I really want to know who was in those photos. Must be a big deal for the Brigadier to do what he did...

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A fit, athletic preteen with cadet training who is now given security clearance:  I can't wait to see where the story goes, but it seems to have echoes of an Anthony Horowitz, Chris Bradford, or a Chris Ryan tale!

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