Devastated by two fires in the past seven years, Australia’s iconic Zig Zag Railway near Lithgow, NSW, is benefiting from support of Indonesian military friends.
CAPTION: Lieutenant Colonel Renee Kidson updates Major General Justin Ellwood, left, and TNI Lieutenant Colonel Teddi on the work being conducted by troops at the Zig Zag Railway. Photo by Flight Sergeant Ricky Fuller. Story by Flying Officer Evita Ryan.
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In early February, more than 40 Indonesian military engineers arrived in Australia to support Operation Bushfire Assist, with a contingent undertaking ‘make safe’ tasks at the Zig Zag Railway to clear burnt trees and other debris from the area.
Commanding Officer 5th Engineer Regiment Task Group Lieutenant Colonel Renée Kidson said it had been a privilege to work on the Zig Zag Railway.
“This is an absolute tourist icon – however it has been damaged by two bushfires recently and this has resulted in a major interruption to the Zig Zag Railway’s operations and to the local economy,” Lieutenant Colonel Kidson said.
“We’ve been privileged to be working here on site alongside our Indonesian military friends.
“This is the largest deployment of Indonesian forces to Australia and they are here assisting us, working as part of our chainsaw strike teams.
“They have huge experience in disaster relief and we are learning so much by working side-by-side with them.”
On 9 February, Australian Defence Force National Support Coordinator Major General Justin Ellwood, National Bushfire Recovery Agency’s Andrew Colvin and Commander Operation Bushfire Assist Brigadier Michael Garraway, hosted by Lieutenant Colonel Kidson, visited the work site and met with representatives from the Lithgow City Council.
“It has been terrific here today that we’ve had Lithgow City Council Deputy Mayor, Councillor Steve Ring, and General Manager Graeme Faulkner with us expressing their appreciation for our ADF efforts to help get Lithgow back to business and to do everything we can to help reinvigorate the local economy,” Lieutenant Colonel Kidson said.
“There are so many bushfire-affected communities right across the state.
“It is inspiring for us to see, and work alongside, so many committed councils, businesses and local residents working hard within their communities on bushfire recovery.
“The resilience of our communities is just amazing.”