Bradshaw Traditional Owners welcome troops

Date: Sep 24, 2021

Publication Type: Blog

Subject: Newspaper

Among the bulldust Bradshaw Field Training Area, ADF and US Marines complete Exercise Koolendong.

Children from Timber Creek take a closer look at a tank at Nackaroo Airfield at Bradshaw.

RESIDENTS of Timber Creek walked through the security gates of the Bradshaw Field Training Area (BFTA) in late August for a rare glimpse of weaponry used in the latest warfighting exercise involving Australian Defence Force soldiers and US Marines. 

Bradshaw, the largest military training facility in the Southern Hemisphere, played host to Exercise Koolendong that brought 1000 US Marines from Marine Rotational Force-Darwin (MRF-D) together with 1000 Australian Army personnel. 

The BFTA - one of the largest live-fire weapons training areas in the world - welcomed people from Timber Creek with displays of armoured personnel carriers, tanks, helicopters, mobile launching equipment, cannon, an Osprey and a robot dog. 

Lorraine Jones, chairperson of the Bradshaw Liaison Committee, said Traditional Owners support BFTA because it creates jobs for local people and gives hope to future generations. 

“It’s an eye-opener for kids to see the equipment and maybe one day they might join the army,” Ms Jones told Land Rights News.

“We are encouraging Defence to use our land because it brings jobs for our people. Defence does a good job and Aboriginal people benefit from it.” 

Traditional Owner Daniel Jones inside the USMC helicopter.

Exercise Koolendong provided three months’ work for the Aboriginal owned Bradshaw & Timber Creek Contracting & Resource Company and its 18 employees. 

The company provides trades and other services to the military through the Bradshaw Partnering Indigenous Land Use Agreement (ILUA). 

Australian Army Commanding Officer 1st Brigade Brigadier Ashley Collingburn said Defence’s relationship with the Traditional Owners of BFTA and across the NT is strong and based on respect, consultation and communication. 

“BFTA is one of the largest live-fire weapons training areas in the world. Access to the land is vital to ensuring the Australian Defence Force maintains a world-class military able to respond when required and as directed by the Australian Government,” Brigadier Collingburn said. 

MRF-D Commanding Officer Colonel David Banning thanked the Traditional Owners of Bradshaw for their hospitality and support. 

“The Marines and Sailors of Marine Rotational Force Darwin are thankful for the continued opportunity to operate in the NT - made possible by the strong relationship that exists between the Traditional Owners of Bradshaw and the Australian Defence Force as evidenced by the Indigenous Land Use Agreement and our commitment to continuing consultation," he said.

“It is impossible to spend any time at Bradshaw and not be moved by the beauty and scale of the land. I am deeply appreciative of the meaning that the land that we are allowed to train on has for the Traditional Owner community. We are committed to continuing and deepening the consultative process with the Traditional Owners to ensure that our training practices respect traditions and location."