Cadet Warrant Officer Isabel Hulbert has just returned from an International Air Cadet Exchange to Australia and her report is below:
“My IACE journey began in Brisbane, the first of three places we’d be visiting during our three week stay. On the first official day of our programme (after spending a few days getting over the jet lag!) we visited Australia Zoo, home of the Crocodile Hunter. Visiting the Zoo was certainly one of my favourite trips during the exchange, however the highlight of my day was feeding and petting some Kangaroos before going to hold a Koala! The next day we went to the Gold Coast to visit the Coolangatta Surf Lifesaving Club and swim in the sea. Although there were no locals in the water as it was their ‘winter’ (the sun was shining and it was over 25C!) the group did not waste any time in running into the water and making the most of our chance to swim in one of nicest coasts in the world! Our evening was nicely rounded off with us going to watch the Outback Spectacular – a dinner and show celebrating the history of Australia, its horses and the legend that is Phar Lap. Over the next few days spent in Brisbane we visited Caloundra Air Museum, Boeing Defence Australia, Amberley Air force station, used a range simulation, had a Brisbane River Tour and visited a number or Australian Air Force Cadet squadrons. On our penultimate day the RAAFA (an association which exists to support Australian aviation ex-servicemen and women) kindly put on a BBQ for us, an event which occurs annually so that the IACE cadets may meet members of the association who fundraise throughout the year for the Australian IACE programme.
On 30th July we flew from Brisbane to Canberra in a Hercules C-130J which was followed by a tour of Australia’s capital city. During our stay in Canberra (which was a great deal colder than Brisbane!) we visited Parliament House, toured the Australian Defence Force Academy and tried out their water obstacle course (which none of the team managed to complete without falling into the pool!), visited the Black Mountains, visited the Australian War Memorial Museum and also Australia National Museum. On our final night in Canberra we were privileged to have a formal dinner with the Chief of the Australian Air Force at the Defence Force Academy (right hand photo, Izzy is 4th from left), with other guests including the Commander and Deputy Commander of the Australian Air Force Cadets – all of whom were keen to talk to us and learn more about our cadet organisations at home. As we journeyed in the coach from Canberra to Sydney the following day for the last leg of our trip, we made an impromptu stop at Canberra’s Deep Space Communication Complex – the best bit of which was definitely trying on a space suit. Once we had arrived in Sydney and eaten dinner we were taken on a night tour of the city – it is true that you never forget the first time you see the Sydney Opera House! The following few days included exploring the Blue Mountains, watching ‘Pacific Rim’ at the IMAX theatre (the largest in the world!), both a tour of the city itself and Sydney Harbour river tour and a visit to the Australian Maritime Museum – although the highlight of my time in Sydney was undoubtedly learning to surf on Bondi Beach!
Taking part in IACE was without a doubt the best thing I have done during my cadet career, and I finished the exchange knowing that because of it I had formed some lifelong friendships with people from across the globe and developed a strong desire to one day go back to Australia and continue exploring everything which couldn’t fit into the IACE schedule! I would like to thank Sqn Ldr Godden for putting me forward for the exchange and all of the AAFC staff who hosted the IACE team and made such an incredible trip possible”.