A deployment to Afghanistan has given ex-Sunbury local Lance Corporal Hayden Heath an opportunity to view the world through the eyes, ears and tastes of the locals.
The 23-year-old recently deployed to Kabul, Afghanistan, on Operation HIGHROAD, providing force protection to Australians working alongside their Afghan counterparts.
Serving with Force Protection Element 8, Lance Corporal Heath said there was a marked difference between Australian and Afghan culture.
"One of the big challenges we faced was getting through the language barrier," he said.
"Getting used to the food was another big one."
Lance Corporal Heath said he originally joined the Army because he was looking for something different.
"I wanted to travel and see the world, and I love fitness and exercise," he said.
While his first deployment has continued his feed his passion for challenges, he said there have been quite a few achievements along the way.
"In a military operation, you need security - without it, you can't do anything," Lance Corporal Heath said.
"We have a pretty high work-load, so keeping up with our tasks and achieving them to a high-standard is one of the big achievements of the trip so far."
Lance Corporal Heath said while the deployment had been demanding, the pressure is eased by the camaraderie among him and his fellow soldiers.
"Your mates are always around, which is one of the best things when you're away from home," he said.
When he returns home to Townsville in early 2018, Lance Corporal Heath said he was looking forward to catching up with his family, his partner Brooke, and taking his dog Hurley for a walk.
"It's been a fast paced deployment so far, so I'm looking forward to kicking my feet up and having a few cold ones with the boys," he said.
ADF personnel deployed on Operation HIGHROAD are working as part of the international community to provide long-term support to the Government of Afghanistan.
About 270 ADF personnel are deployed in the Kabul, Bagram and Kandahar regions as part of Operation HIGHROAD, Australia's contribution to the NATO-led Resolute Support mission.