In June 2019, we assisted WICEN at Navshield 2019 with logistical support.
Navshield is the premier emergency service navigation event organised by the bush search and rescue group BSAR. A former VRA squad, BSAR is now a unit of the NSW State Emergency Service. The event is within three hours drive of Sydney – this year at Kanangra not far from Jenolan Caves.
On Friday afternoon of 21st June, 2019 the vehicle is packed bar a couple of items. On these events, you need to be fully self sufficient for three days. The forecast weather was for -4C on Friday and Saturday night. It would be murderous to turn up in such conditions minus gloves and beanie!
By 1530, finally on the road from Singleton with the pre-determined route being Putty Road, Blaxland Ridge/Comleroi Road to Bilpin, Bells Line of Road to Bell, Darling Causeway to Mt Victoria, Great Western Highway to Jenolan Caves Road and then finally onto Kanangra Walls Road to Kanangra. It is a five and a half hour journey of winding road and plenty of gear changes and use of the clutch. Mt Victoria was a convenient location to refuel both myself and the vehicle. Upon arrival at Kanangra, it was -4C as predicted so at least I was not disappointed. At least there was a nice warm fire to stand around for a period before calling it an evening. Room 62 was waiting, so out comes the air mat, sleeping bag and doonah down the LHS side seats – a little cosy among equipment in the rear which was bought along as a backup to the back up, as we do.
First thing on Saturday morning we already had a game plan which we discussed around the previous night’s camp fire. We had a need to swap out the Motorola DMR repeater base at Radio Checkpoint Alpha which was located at the top of a nominated fire trail. However, first things are first. Everything was pretty well iced up from overnight including the windscreen, so out comes a customer loyalty card to carefully scrape the windscreen.
Later in the day a second errand was run after doing some troubleshooting on the previous base station. A test bench was set up at the WICEN campsite within the Kanangra base camp. There is nothing like service software to interrogate such equipment if there is a perceived fault because it will tell you what it is unhappy about rather than have to guess and go through trial and error. It is interesting that “alarms” on this base station equipment are categorised as being either minor or major. A minor alarm will still allow the base station to run as it turns out, not so a major alarm – which for example, would be powering up the base station before connecting the coaxial feeder/antenna system. As all good radio operators know, we always connect antenna systems first before powering up.
On the Saturday evening, David and I assisted BSAR with the accounting of teams as they returned and once again, we were getting ready for another -4C evening. We were smart however, building our campfire late afternoon in readiness. One thing was for sure – while we were waiting for teams, the cold travelled up through the ground and through your footwear.
For those of us lucky to be based at the Kanangra Base Camp, we were catered for by Salvation Army Emergency Services. We have appreciated them before and we certainly did again this weekend.
Finally, on Sunday morning along with the ice, it began to snow which is not uncommon for this area at this time of year. It was good to thaw out on the return run home.