The sand in Iraq might not be the same as that on Cronulla Beach, however Sutherland Shire lad and Australian Army Captain Anthony Davis is still enjoying his time among the dunes as he helps train Iraqis fight the war against Daesh.
His work can be very demanding though as the Iraqi’s inquisitive nature can leave Australian trainers fielding a host of questions during a lesson.
"They ask 'what if there's a sniper? What about IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices)? What if Daesh runs away?'" he said.
"They always have a lot of questions about different situations.
"That shows they're keen to learn and seek extra knowledge from us."
Anthony is serving as an instructor with a force of Australian and New Zealander troops helping train the Iraqi Army at the Taji Military Complex near Baghdad.
Task Group Taji has been deployed to Iraq to support an international effort to train and build the capacity of the regular Iraqi Security Forces.
The mission is critical to the next phase of the Iraqi Security Force's operations to counter Daesh in Iraq and will help Iraq take responsibility for its own security.
Having already served about five months on this deployment, Anthony's parents are starting to get used to the idea of him being away.
"They were quite nervous at the start but as it goes on and they hear about what we're doing it makes them more comfortable," Anthony said.
"We're still on operations and it could be somewhat dangerous, but it's not a big risk.
"My brother is in the Army and they've been through this before when he deployed overseas."
The relationship between trainers and soldiers is close and friendly, and Anthony has taken the opportunity to learn a few things about the lives of Iraqi soldiers.
"We'll be teaching lessons on IEDs to the soldiers and some will tell us how they have encountered IEDs in combat and have disabled them before," Anthony said.
"We've had soldiers show us gun shot wounds from previous engagements with Daesh, and they'll talk about having been in a fire-fight with Daesh.
"We're also hearing about bombings and how it affects their families and townships."
Anthony said learning some words in Arabic is an effective way to build rapport.
"Every day they teach us new words so we can learn the lingo to help us instruct," he said.
"They like to see you learning the language and understand their culture."
After a day of training, Anthony saves one final test for the trainees.
"I always do push-ups with them when I can," he said.
"You'll always get different guys saying they're the strongest, so it's good to have a bit of fun."
Anthony graduated from Woolooware High in 2006 and joined the Army soon afterwards.
He recently managed to make it to Shark Park while on leave in July to watch Cronulla play the Roosters.
"A couple of mates joined the Army after high school but the others like to hear about what I've been doing," he said.
"When I get home they're always interested in where I've been and what I've done so it's good to shine a light on what we do."
Anthony will most likely be home for Christmas and plans to head to the beach before catching up with mates.
"I miss the beaches," he said.
"The shire is a special place; it's got everything you need, especially family and friends."