Sapper Cameron Turner, from Muswellbrook in the upper Hunter region, is fulfilling his dream of leading a construction activity overseas during Exercise Puk Puk.
CAPTION: Sapper Cameron Turner, right, from the 6th Engineer Support Regiment, checks the level of a frame on-site during Exercise Puk Puk at Goldie River Training Depot in Papua New Guinea. Story by Major Jesse Robilliard. Photo by Sergeant Nunu Campos.
Sapper Turner, with the 6th Engineer Support Regiment, is helping deliver improved infrastructure to Goldie River Training Depot near Port Moresby while working alongside engineers from the 3rd Combat Engineer Regiment, Papua New Guinea Defence Force (PNGDF) and royal engineers from the British Army.
“We are building a steel-frame classroom. It’s a nice new project for the Field Engineer Wing,” Sapper Turner said.
“Working with the PNGDF is good, very different. It’s also my first time working with the UK royal engineers. They have great morale, good to have around, they are good for a laugh; I am definitely enjoying Ex Puk Puk.”
The St Joseph’s Aberdeen High School graduate joined the 12th/16th Hunter River Lancers as an Army Reserve corporal in 2009.
“I worked as a carpenter as my full-time job; ran a business, I got all sorts of experience doing that,” he said.
“I wanted to get more out of my Army service, to get more experience in the construction game; I wanted overseas experience in construction.
“I transferred over to the full time Army in July 2021 and became an Army-qualified carpenter. I received recognition for prior learning at the School of Military Engineering.”
Ex Puk Puk is the first overseas task for the former Muswellbrook Heeler Rugby Union player, as an Army qualified carpenter.
“I have had the opportunity to go overseas now and put what I have learned in the civilian world into practice here,” he said.
“I have the opportunity to run my own crew, I have apprentices I am training from the School of Military Engineering as well. I am also training the PNGDF and UK royal engineers.”
Sapper Turner is also studying a Bachelor of Construction Management from the University of South Australia with some financial support from the Army.
He said choosing a career as an Army tradesman provided unique opportunities.
“You can’t do this anywhere else. You can’t go overseas easily and do what we’re doing now; that’s why I transferred from the Army Reserve to fulltime.”
Exercise Puk Puk has been an enduring commitment to PNG since the early 2000s.