Feature

‘My Time On Galoa, HMAS Adelaide’- Fiji Sun Digital Journalist Visits Recovery Works

‘Children were seen playing on a landing craft parked on the shore, while others were playing and running around with the Australian soldiers. This was the spirit of the Vuvale’
20 Jan 2021 15:11
‘My Time On Galoa, HMAS Adelaide’- Fiji Sun Digital Journalist Visits Recovery Works
Fiji Sun Digital journalist Jennis Naidu onboard the landing craft heading to Galoa Island.

My first out of Viti Levu assignment landed me inside a helicopter, on an island that I had only read stories of, and onboard one of the largest navy ships to come out of Australia.

Over a year of working at the Fiji Sun, I can literally count on my fingers the number of assignments I have covered. The majority of my time was spent behind my computer screen, at my desk, in the office at 21 Gorrie Street, Suva.

When I was told that I will be covering the Galoa Trip/ HMAS Adelaide Tour, the first question that came to my mind was – will I get a chance to get on the chopper? Yes, I did!

This was my first time on a helicopter. Mark the date- January 18, 2021. Not just any helicopter; a MRH-90 Taipan multi-role military helicopter.

Fiji Sun Digital journalist Jennis Naidu next to a military helicopter onboard the HMAS Adelaide.

Fiji Sun Digital journalist Jennis Naidu next to a military helicopter onboard the HMAS Adelaide.

You imagine a helicopter ride to be choppy like the name suggests. The ride on MRH-90 was smooth.

The helicopter soared over the island, providing an overview at a height where you are still able to distinguish what you’re seeing below. We flew over the great blue ocean onto the Australian ship. It was majestically beautiful. Fun fact: these helicopters are foldable. Just wow.

Aside from the heat on Galoa Island, the whole experience was incredible. The media team was deployed on a military landing craft from Bekana Jetty to the island.

The military landing craft operates on both land and in the sea-amazing, right? This was the wow-factor of the trip.

Vuvale spirit

As we approached the island, you did not have to look far to see the devastation of Cyclone Yasa. The trees were barren, there were partially-destroyed houses in sight. It was incredibly melancholy.

Galoa Island. Photo: Jennis Naidu

Galoa Island. Photo: Jennis Naidu

However, just near the shore, the kids had the biggest smiles on their faces. The children of Galoa Island were overjoyed with the presence of the Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel. These children were seen playing on a landing craft parked on the shore, while others were playing and running around with the Australian soldiers. This was the spirit of the Vuvale.

Photo: Jennis Naidu

Photo: Jennis Naidu

In the first classroom of the newly-built block at Galoa Island Primary School, the chairs had little Koala clip ons- a really sweet gesture from the ADF personnel.

Koala clip ons attached to the chairs in the classroom of Galoa Island Primary School. Photo: Jennis Naidu

Koala clip ons attached to the chairs in the classroom of Galoa Island Primary School. Photo: Jennis Naidu

Onboard the HMAS Adelaide

HMAS Adelaide is huge. After the heat of the island, it was really cool inside- a welcoming feel.

There are four main decks; heavy vehicle, accommodation, hangar and light vehicles and flight decks.

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What was fascinating was that, once we stepped off the helicopters on the landing dock of the ship, all of the members of the media team were asked to stand in a line within a marked boundary.

Out of thin air, these barricades popped out of the dock, and we plummeted down to the heavy vehicle deck. A ship-lift, I would say.

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After weeks and weeks of reading stories of the Australian Defence Force’s work on Vanua Levu in the wake of Cyclone Yasa; the capabilities of the HMAS Adelaide, I got to experience it first-hand.

This trip was made possible through the Australian High Commission. I would like to extend my gratitude for giving local journalists an opportunity to witness first-hand the efforts of the Australian Defence Force in partnership with the Republic of Fiji Military Forces, as well as tour the HMAS Adelaide and all its commodities.

Edited by Jonathan Bryce

Feedback: jennis.naidu@fijisun.com.fj



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