Private Frank Marrar had a busy first year in the Army Reserve.
The 29-year old, from the remote Northern Territory community of Nauiyu, enlisted in Norforce in September 2019.
After completing recruit and patrolman courses in Darwin, he deployed three times on operation − once on Operation Bushfire Assist and twice on Operation COVID-19 Assist.
“I went to Kangaroo Island in South Australia after the bushfires,” Private Marrar said.
“Because my team was chainsaw-qualified, our job was to cut down dead trees and clear the footpaths in the national park that were blocked by fallen trees.
“We worked there for four weeks before we came back to the Northern Territory at the beginning of March.”
Private Marrar’s next deployment was much closer to home.
The Daly River mob all knew I had joined the Army and were interested in what I was doing.
“In May, I spent three weeks at the police check point on the Daly River Road, about half an hour from Nauiyu,” he said.
“There were six of us − two Navy personnel, two NT Police officers, one Australian Federal Police officer, and me − and we did 12-hour shifts in pairs.”
Their task was to control access to remote communities along the road − including Nauiyu, Peppimenarti, Palumpa and Wadeye (Port Keats) – to protect residents from coronavirus.
“We checked people driving in to make sure they had paperwork from the Northern Land Council or the hospital saying they had been in isolation for two weeks,” Private Marrar said.
“Some people liked the check point because it stopped outsiders from coming in, but others didn’t like it because it held them up from going to town (Daly River) and coming back.
“The Daly River mob all knew I had joined the Army and were interested in what I was doing.”
The NT Government ended the internal check points in June, but maintained the check points at the borders with Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia.
In July, Private Marrar deployed to the Western Australia border check point for four weeks.
“This time there were six soldiers, two NT police and two federal police,” he said.
“We were mainly checking station workers, road trains carrying cattle or hay, and tourists coming through the check point.
“I liked getting to know the other soldiers and hearing their stories about what they did before joining the Army.”
Private Marrar is the only person from Nauiyu in the Army.
“My cousin was in Norforce and that’s why I wanted to join,” he said.
“Also, it’s hard to find a job at Daly River. There’s not much going on.”
Private Marrar is looking forward to his second year with Norforce’s Darwin Squadron, and the possibility of deploying on Operation Resolute, the ADF’s contribution to protecting Australia’s international borders.
“The best thing about the Army is that you get to travel and see different country,” he said.
“I really enjoyed my first year.”