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Army joins forces with Northern Rivers town

Council staff and soldiers working together on Kyogle bridges.
Council staff and soldiers working together on Kyogle bridges. Contributed

KYOGLE Council received reinforcements from an unexpected ally in its relentless battle to maintain its aging timber bridge network.

Members of the recently reformed Assault Pioneer Platoon of the 8th/9th Battalion of the Royal Australian Regiment served alongside council's battle-hardened bridge crew in a joint campaign to repair a series of load-limited timber bridges.

Council staff and soldiers working together on Kyogle bridges.
Council staff and soldiers working together on Kyogle bridges. Contributed

The mission, conducted over three weeks, began with the army and council corps attacking bridges on Sheddens Road, Babyl Creek Road and Aspreys Road before they mounted their final incursion on a bridge on Chestnut Road.

The soldiers also helped with the construction of a concrete bridge on Duck Creek Road.

At the end of the campaign, the army, the council and the community all claimed victory.

Council staff and soldiers working together on Kyogle bridges.
Council staff and soldiers working together on Kyogle bridges. Contributed

The soldiers gained valuable in-the-field experience in timber bridge construction and maintenance; Kyogle Council was provided, at no cost, with extra manpower and resources to repair four bridges; and with the load limits now lifted from the four bridges, the community can enjoy safer and improved access.

The idea for the joint campaign grew from talks between council and army officials earlier this year after the Pioneer Platoon completed a training exercise in State forest near Woodenbong.

The Assault Pioneers were keen to enhance their timber bridge building skills through hands on experience and Kyogle Council was happy to share its expertise in constructing and maintaining timber bridges.

Council staff and soldiers working together on Kyogle bridges.
Council staff and soldiers working together on Kyogle bridges. Contributed

Lieutenant Patrick Box of the 8th/9th Battalion said it was important that the Assault Pioneers were trained in timber bridge building and repair skills.

"Such skills are vital for maintaining momentum and facilitating resupply and casualty evacuation and the experience gained working with Kyogle Council will hold the Pioneers in good stead for a long time to come,” he said.

"The Soldiers thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to spend time away from base and get hands on experience constructing bridges.

"The level of knowledge displayed by the Council staff was impressive.”

Council staff and soldiers working together on Kyogle bridges.
Council staff and soldiers working together on Kyogle bridges. Contributed

Council's bridge overseer Tony Olive said everyone involved in the joint exercise gained something from the experience.

"Everyone worked well together,” he said.

"It was great from Council's perspective to be able to share our skills with the soldiers who were really keen to learn and happy to work side by side with us.

The joint project was so successful that planning is already underway for a return visit by the army in 2017.

Topics:  army bridges kyogle northern rivers



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