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Features

The perfect place for ‘Big Brother’


Corporal Simone Liebelt

CPL Eddie Sequitin, cook at the Delamere Range Facility.

CPL Eddie Sequitin, cook at the Delamere Range Facility.

Photo by SGT Mark Eaton

DELAMERE has all the ingredients of a great reality TV show. Eight Air Force members living and working together while serving their country at a remote outback post.

According to resident cook, Corporal Eddie Sequitin, “it’s like a Big Brother house without the eviction”.

Of course, they’re much too busy for any Big Brother antics, but it makes an appropriate analogy about life at Delamere.

Made up of a Range Safety Officer, cook, medic, supplier and three explosive ordnance technicians, the small detachment is a happy bunch of characters with an obvious fondness for their unique lifestyle.

As part of that lifestyle, they willingly give up weekdays with their families to spend it out bush, more than 200km from RAAF Base Tindal and 100km from the nearest neighbour.

They either catch a chartered 30-minute flight or take the two-hour drive out. Fortunately, they get to go home on weekends, during which time the range is managed by two Air Force caretakers.

Supplier Corporal Geoff Page says with a wife and two kids back home at Katherine, it’s “the love of the job” that keeps him coming back each week.

“It’s my third year here, and I love the place,” he says. “I’m one of those old-time equipos, so I like to be outdoors doing stuff with my hands, rather than sitting behind a computer screen.

“Out here, you’re not tied down doing the same thing over and over again; there’s always a chance to go out and jump on a tractor or help the blokes clean up the ranges.

“It really feels like Air Force because you’re doing something to directly support the aircraft flying, and can see what’s happening, like the bombs dropping. Then you get to go out afterwards and clean it up, which is great.”

Medical assistant Corporal Claire Aram, who also looks after all the administration at Delamere, is the only female on board, and has been for the past three years.

“It’s a great place, because we all get along really well here,” she says. “Everyone gives that little bit extra to not be overbearing, which could easily cause problems within such a small unit.

“It’s been a totally different experience for me [as a medic]. For instance, I’ve had the opportunity to shoot 81mm mortars with the US Marines and I’ve got a licence for just about everything that drives. You keep your ears open and you learn a lot out here.”

She said being a remote posting doesn’t make Delamere boring.

“Sometimes it can be very peculiar, for instance, we didn’t have a cook one day so the four of us decided we didn’t want to cook for ourselves. So we drove 100km to the Top Springs pub, which is the closest shop, so they could cook us a meal.

“They only had spaghetti carbonara cooking that day, so we ate that and then drove back again. It was a 200km trip just for dinner.

“[As for my spare time at Delamere], I’m a shocker for TV shows. All the guys laugh at me, but at least it gets me away from them!”

As well as tolerating each other, they also have to share their limited space with other visitors, such as the US Marine Corps, who are currently staying on site as part of Exercise Southern Frontier.

“When the Americans come in, normally they are a mortar battalion, which is a different type of Marine,” says Corporal Page.

“These guys are forward air defence, so every exercise is different. They’re all really nice guys and because you’re in such a tight community, you get to know them pretty well, so it’s good.”

While the average posting to Delamere is three years, most members request to stay longer. Must be that Big Brother feeling.

 

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