Expedition for South Australian Navy members

This article has photo gallery Published on LCDR Ainsley Slattery (author), POCD Troy Pudney (photographer)

Location(s): Wilpena Pound, SA

Topic(s): Navy Headquarters South Australia

NHQ-SA at the Hawker War Memorial. L-R: POCD Troy Pudney, LCDR Ainsley Slattery, CMDR Andrew Burnett, PO ML-P Erica Lower, LS- ML-CK Rebecca Elliott, PO ML-P Warren Sanders CPO Grant Metcalf, LS- ML-SC David Houghton, CPO Stephen Yarnold. (photo: POCD Troy Pudney)
NHQ-SA at the Hawker War Memorial. L-R: POCD Troy Pudney, LCDR Ainsley Slattery, CMDR Andrew Burnett, PO ML-P Erica Lower, LS- ML-CK Rebecca Elliott, PO ML-P Warren Sanders CPO Grant Metcalf, LS- ML-SC David Houghton, CPO Stephen Yarnold.

Resilience, teamwork and leadership were common themes for Navy members of Navy Headquarters-South Australia (NHQ-SA) and surrounding outstations during an expedition to the remote Flinders Ranges.

Executive Officer NHQ-SA, Lieutenant Commander Ainsley Slattery led the team on several hikes in the region over a two-day period, visiting ancient aboriginal sites, rock paintings and the Hawker War Memorial. Accommodation was situated at the remote Willow Springs Shearers Quarters in the heart of the Flinders Ranges, 470km north of Adelaide, South Australia.

Team members took turns in the role of the group leader, taking charge of all expedition activities, including building the fire, arranging meals and safely navigating between destinations.

Day one saw the NHQ-SA team rise early on a chilly one degree celcius morning - an immediate test of their physical and mental resilience. Shortly after, they commenced a gruelling 14 kilometre, seven hour hike up Mount St Mary in the centre of the Flinders Ranges. The hike began on flat ground but quickly transitioned into a very steep climb up the side of St Mary’s Peak.

Commanding Officer NHQ-SA, Commander Andrew Burnett said the expedition was a good team challenge.

“Participants were at all levels of skill and fitness and the NHQ team worked as one to get everyone through the hike. 

“No-one was left behind and in the particularly steep rock climbing sections, backpacks were moved in chains and participants were supported up and down the rock faces,” he said.

The team reached the saddle of the mountain shortly after midday with incredible views from the top. Observing the wishes of local aboriginal elders, the team did not summit the peak, instead completing the hike in the late afternoon, thoroughly exhausted but very pleased with their efforts. Day two of the expedition consisted of an early morning walk to Sacred Heart Canyon to visit ancient Aboriginal carvings followed by another two hour hike to visit ancient Aboriginal paintings. The team also took travelled to Hawker for a visit to the Hawker War Memorial - the only one of its kind in the area.

The Navy Resilience Plan was developed during 2015 to build resilient people and teams within Navy. The cornerstone of the plan is the comprehensive approach to resilience, identified as 'Navy Resilience', including mind (mental resilience), heart (moral resilience), body (physical resilience) and external (external factors that contribute to resilience).