Militaries build bridges

Army soldier Corporal Sam Brown reaches for a plank of wood to rest a temporary medium girder bridge on at Buchan Caves, Victoria, during Operation Bushfire Assist. Photo: Leading Seaman Kieren Whiteley

Militaries build bridges

Two bridges constructed by the Australian, Fijian and Papua New Guinea militaries will improve access to a popular tourist attraction in Victoria in the wake of the 2019-2020 bushfires.

The medium girder bridge materials were transported on Army trucks to the Buchan Cave Reserve in the Gippsland Region, which attracts thousands of visitors every year, after the original bridges were burnt beyond repair.

A team comprised of Australian Defence Force (ADF), Republic of Fiji Military Forces (RFMF) and Papua New Guinea Defence Force (PNGDF) personnel worked together to turn the materials into functioning bridges, which will enable national parks workers and tourists to access the existing roads by vehicle.

Officer in Charge of the first bridge build, Corporal Hayden Archer, said the bridges would eventually enable the reserve to get back to full operation.

“As the Officer in Charge, I make sure the sequence is correct – building the bridge we have to construct certain parts at certain times and I ensure that happens,” Corporal Archer said.

“Working with the RFMF and PNGDF personnel has been excellent – they all have good attitudes and work hard.

“I’m proud to contribute to getting the community back to normal. It’s great to be embraced by the local community and great to see them getting back on their feet.”

Leading Seaman Joseva Delei, of the RFMF detachment, said the team enjoyed the heavy lifting.

“Most of the equipment we lifted by hand so we just needed manpower for that,” Leading Seaman Delei said.

“It’s the first time for me in Australia and it’s been a pleasure, especially contributing to the bushfire assist effort.

“We’re just here to help the ADF and Australia out to rebuild communities.”

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