On arriving at the Airport on Saturday 26 September, we walked into a room of quiet teenagers sitting with their families.
All eyes were on the door of the Park Royal Hotel looking for the Juniors who would be going to Sydney. Learning and Volunteerism's Laura Bracken called us into our teams. We could now put faces to the names we had seen in our information booklet and I became part of team Alpha. We were given new gear, the gear we would use at the Championships, plus Deputy Chief Officer Alen Slijepcevic came to see us off and wish us luck.
On the plane trip to Sydney I sat with Richard and Tracy (one of the leaders). Richard was on Team Alpha, so it was good to talk to him during the flight. When we arrived at our hotel in Sydney, I had already made two more new friends; their names were Tayla Wingrave and Alysha Ali.
The hotel was beautiful. Wwe had no sooner arrived and we were heading out for dinner at the Caminetto Italian Restaurant at the Rocks & Pizzeria where we all got to know each other better. After dinner we went to out to our first sightseeing activity, a ghost tour and to be quite honest the host scared me more than the tour but at least I got a lot of history about the streets of Sydney.
The next morning, we caught a fairy to Taronga Zoo, where we split into groups and lucky enough my group got to see all the animals. While I was there I was able to get some gifts to bring home, one for Dad, one each for my nephews Jack and Steven, one for my junior leader (Leonie Turner) plus one for me and of course a stuffed wombat for my brigade because our last one was cable tied to the front of the Ultra-Light. After a great time at the zoo, we went onto do the Sydney Bridge Climb. The view at the top was beautiful, it really made me appreciate been part of the CFA Junior Volunteer Program and one of 18 juniors to be selected to go to Sydney.
When we checked out of our hotel and headed to the NSW Police Marine Area Command. We were lucky enough to go on the boats and talk to one of the divers there; it makes you think just how important it is to be a part of an emergency service. Finally the most exciting part of the day had come, arriving at Myuna Bay, where we would camp and compete.
In the opening ceremony we got to see all the cadets from around Australia competing all together, what a sight. It’s the first day of the Championships, the day was filled with running, fun and good communication, our first event was draughting. We also climbed ladders with a hose, it was an event I had never seen being done before, and being the captain of this event this helped me gain more skills. We also carried someone on the stretcher and completed a rake-hoe trail as well as an event where we had to don our gear as part of the event. We did fantastic considering we had only met four days ago, our team work was sensational and the little mistakes we made were only stepping stones for how we could improve for the next day.
The second day of competition had arrived and I was really excited. We complete many events including the knapsack races, where we knocked a tennis balls off cones; that was great fun. By the end of the day, I had also met and became friends with some of the NSW cadets and we are still in contact. At the end of the competition, Team Alpha had placed 15th out of 25 of teams. We had not placed in the top 3 medals position but we didn’t really care, the Victorian Juniors were all winners, what an experience and what a great time we all had.
It was time to say goodbye to the new friends I had made at the Championships. Our time in Sydney had gone so fast, I was sorry it had to finish but I was excited to be heading back home to share with everyone what I had seen and what we had achieved as a team, which we could not have done without everyone’s participation, including the Leader and CFA Staff who had come.
That night when we got back to the hotel and put our bags down we headed straight out for a jet boat ride which was awesome until our jet bout driver reminded me there were sharks in the harbour. That night we went to dinner at the beautiful restaurant the food was to die for, but our time was running out, tomorrow we all had to say goodbye to our teams Alpha, Bravo and Charlie.
On our way back to the airport we made a quick stop at Bondi Beach. Definitely a great way to finish up as we got met and get a photo with a Bondi Rescue Life Guard Trent “Maxi” Maxwell which was unreal. But quicker than I thought, I found myself dragging my luggage around the airport again and yes I was upset to have to say goodbye to all my new friends. The Chief Officer Euan Ferguson met us on our return that was awesome to think he would take the time out of his very busy day to come and see us, this made us feel really valued, what a lovely man.
I want to thank everyone I met, from the ghost tour guide, water police personal, our jet boat driver, The bridge climb instructor and of course our fantastic Junior Leaders and CFA Staff plus all the junior members who accompanied me to Sydney as well as all the Cadets who competed at the Championships not forgetting the hard working members who ran the Championships for us. I can’t thank the CFA enough for select me to be part of a fabulous group of people, it was such a privilege to represent Victoria in such a great way and an unreal 6 days.
My memories of this trip will never be forgotten, I hope all the other juniors and Leaders enjoyed it as much as I did. This experience has shown me what part of a team means, we all came home winners.
- By Lilian Pagels from Hoddles Creek Juniors
Author: Will Johnston