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Adventures Across New Zealand and Australia: Middlesex and NW London ACF

14 August 2023

After several virtual exchanges spanning the past three years, a group of 20 Army Cadets hailing from the Middlesex and NW London ACF, along with 6 CFAV, journeyed to New Zealand. This trip was supported by ACCT UK Grant.

Accompanied by 10 counterparts from New Zealand and 11 from Australia, they finally had the opportunity to step onto foreign soil in July. The culmination of their efforts was a comprehensive 14-day cross-country exchange programme that spanned New Zealand and Australia.

Their expedition commenced in Auckland, where they embarked on a city tour that included a visit to the summit of the Auckland Sky Tower, participating in a captivating VR ride around it. The journey proceeded through the North Island, encompassing visits to landmarks such as the WWII tunnels at Devonport Navy Base. Upon reaching Waiouru, the main training base of the New Zealand Army, they experienced a moving formal welcome ceremony at the NZ Army’s national marae, Rongomaraeroa-o-ngā-hau-e-whā. An evening behind-the-scenes tour of the Army Museum was followed by an enjoyable morning at the simulator ranges before their departure for Wellington.

In the capital city, they explored the New Zealand National Museum (Te Papa) and were treated to a captivating visit to the WeTA workshops, responsible for crafting special effects in renowned films like Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, and Avatar. The group paid their respects during a Last Post service at Pukeahu National War Memorial, where they laid a wreath at the Tomb of the NZ Unknown Warrior. Their week culminated in a formal dinner at Trentham Camp, hosted by a senior NZDF officer representing the Chief of Army, during which two cadets received promotions.

“Throughout the ANZUK Initiative Exchange Program we were immersed in a whirlwind of cultural experiences and educational opportunities. The camaraderie among the contingents grew stronger with each passing day as we shared laughter, stories, and unforgettable moments together!”

Cadet Adams-Lloyd

The group flew from Wellington to Sydney and toured the city with their Australian hosts and a New Zealand contingent as a team. They drove to Canberra via Cowra and Cootamundra to undertake a BFS at Cowra (laying a wreath in the Japanese cemetery) and to meet cadets from both towns. The cadet units served as regional hubs, providing them with excellent BBQs and accommodations.

Afterwards, they drove on to Canberra, a 4-hour drive, and visited the Parliament building, the Defence Force Academy, and RMC Duntroon before heading for accommodations outside of town. The following day, they engaged in the Leadership Reaction Course (involving command tasks) and visited the Australian War Memorial, taking part in the daily Last Post Service.

On that evening, they enjoyed dinner at the Defence Academy before returning to their Spartan yet comfortable and warm accommodations. The subsequent day, they departed Canberra, making a visit to the Science and Technology museum named Questacon, prior to embarking on the extensive journey back to Sydney. Their final dinner took place at Holsworthy base, marked by various presentations, including an immaculate Haka performance by their newfound friends, the New Zealand cadets.

“The financial support provided by ACCT (and indeed other partners such as the RFCA GL) was very much welcomed. It was a key enabler in making it accessible to a wider audience of cadets who otherwise might not have applied.”

Tim Rayson Captain, ACF Middlesex and NorthWest London ACF

This trip was support by ACCT UK Grant. If you are looking to take part in a similar expedition and need to fund your trip, you can apply today, here.

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