CULTURAL EXCHANGE By Cameron Simpkins, 2IC B Coy of 51 FNQR

A mate of mine was the OC B Coy, 51 FNQR based in Wepia. Once a fortnight, the resupply Unimog left Cairns and drove the two or three days it took to get to Weipa. The truck had to traverse the Peninsula Development Road (PDR) as well as a couple of big rivers – the Archer being the most difficult during the wet. The truck left Cairns, and in those days, there was no communication until it got to Weipa. So the driver was pretty much on his own for five days to a week. So, anyway, it was the night before the digger had to do the drive. So, he did the appropriate thing and wandered into a target-rich environment. That would be a bar full of German/English backpackers. Thinking he needed some comfort for the evening, he started talking to a backpacker. She asked him about what he did etc, and he informed her about the impending truck trip on his own up to Weipa.
“Take me with you.” The dig, because he was a good lad, declined at this point. He explained it was all about duty and he couldn’t.
“I have a friend. She can come too.” Nope. The dig stood firm.
“There is another girl…”
Okay. He left early. A pick-up point and time was organised. The
girls were waiting, wearing standard North Qld backpacker attire. They climbed in and the journey began. My understanding was that the truck made reasonable time, but slightly slower than you’d expect up to Weipa. Apparently, the two nights were busy, where our man conducted cross-cultural activities, but I understand that a strong bond was formed between all parties. Apparently German girls are pleasant company, especially when you have three. The story gets messy when the Unimog got to the Weipa turnoff.
The girls wanted to go on to the tip of Cape York. The dig, an otherwise trusted and good man, knew he couldn’t do that. It was a long trip and he had to resupply B Coy. At this point one of the girls suggested that if he took them to Cape York, she’d let him entertain her like a man. Yes, cry the other two, you could do us that way too. Our man began to waiver… It was a good offer… He told her he’d be in so much trouble if he did this that he’d need evidence of the story. Nobody would believe him.
The OC B Coy was a very large, angry man, the CO and RSM equally so. The digger thought he’d end up in jail for this, so would need some memories of the trip…
The girls agreed and offered to take photos while he entertained one of the other girls… So, with the deal sealed, a Unimog, one digger and three German girls headed up the PDR to Cape York. It was a long trip, about another week and a half in it. The girls were good to their word. God bless those German girls!
Finally, after another two weeks, the Unimog wandered into B Coy. The OC was beside himself. “Where have you been, digger? You’re almost two weeks overdue. Are you ok?”
Our intrepid man, who was about five kilos lighter by now, began to explain the story… The OC became redder and redder… an explosion imminent…
And then a German girl popped around the side of the truck and introduced herself. She was perky, polite and apologised profusely. She explained that it was their entire fault. The digger hadn’t wanted to go… they’d had to offer themselves (the other two girls appeared) and yes, they had suggested that he could entertain them like a man to take them to The Cape.
Somewhere at this point, the girls produced the rolls of film (yes, this is an old story). “Get these produced. We took the photos; it will show what we did to trick the digger to take us to The Cape.”
The photos were produced. Well, you had to if you were an investigating officer. It was confirmatory evidence…
The OC didn’t know what to do… so he referred the story to the CO and RSM for advice, along with the photos…
The RSM saw the photos and told the CO he’d deal with it.
Like a good RSM, he spoke to the digger. “You are usually a good
digger. This behaviour can’t be tolerated. You risked Army equipment on a private jaunt but, given the circumstances, I probably would’ve done the same thing. Get out of my sight. Take these bloody photos and don’t do it again.”

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