Words by David Friebel
Photos courtesy of Levi Wauchope
Growing up on the idyllic coastline of Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory is a long cry from the ‘intensity’ of the Army Recruitment Training Centre at Kapooka.
However, Levi Wauchope knew from a young age that this was a challenge he needed to face to reach his goal of joining the ADF as a Rifleman.
Levi grew up in his family’s Safari business, often joining his father on hunts and fishing trips with clients and it was this early grounding that gave him the desire to join the Defence Force.
Levi said: “I always wanted to be a good role model for my family, be respected. Defence gave me this.”
After spending time at multiple schools growing up, Levi boarded at Kormilda College for the final two years of his schooling. It was here that he embraced Clontarf and its values, participating in as many activities as he could.
“Clontarf taught me teamwork, learning to work with others to achieve a goal. It was a huge part of me getting through school.”
One of the activities that Levi thrived on was the annual Clontarf Defence Camp held at Robinson Barracks in Darwin. This camp gives the boys the opportunity to spend a couple of days as soldiers, being kitted up and partaking in Army-style exercises. This opportunity was all Levi needed to confirm his desire to join the ADF.
He left the camp with the desire and the process to start his application.
“I loved the Defence camp. It’s little things like this that Clontarf do that opens the eyes, gives us opportunity.”
After completing the application process, Levi was off to Kapooka, the first steps of his journey had taken. But the first week at Kapooka was tough.
“I wanted to throw it in. This was the hardest week of my life, I felt alone and didn’t want to continue.”
By chance, Levi met Trent Middy-Keppel, another Kormilda Academy graduate from back in 2013.
“It was great meeting someone there who understood what I was going through, understood my story. We stuck together and helped each other. I didn’t realise at the time that everyone else in the Platoon was in the same boat. We decided we could do it. We got around each other and supported each other.”
Levi recently completed his twelve weeks of training at Kapooka. He is now stationed in Darwin with the Darwin Squadron of NORFORCE, preparing to head down to Singleton in July to complete another ten week training block before joining a regiment.
“When I passed Year 12, I was so proud. I thought it was tough. Getting through the twelve weeks at Kapooka is on another level. To be tested so much physically and mentally hasmade me grow up. Out of the 60 who started, 46 marched out.”
“I look back at last year and realise how easy school was compared to ‘real life’. There are tough times, but the support you get at school is amazing. When I look back now I’m sometimes embarrassed with how I behaved and at what I thought was unfair. Clontarf taught me a lot. They kept me grounded. Since joining Defence, this has gone to another level. I am resilient, I have learnt to embrace challenges and to push myself.”