16-Feb-2002 -- For many months, this has been the only unvisited confluence in the state of Victoria. The reason for this .... its location is within the Puckapunyal Army Base, which is a restricted area. It turned out to be very close to the firing ranges where small arms, rifle, artillery and tank firing practice occurs. My friend Ian Kelly and I have been contemplating for some time how we would attempt to visit it. I had also been receiving some emails of encouragement from Targ Parsons, a veteran confluence visitor in China.
Finally, one night I rang the Department of Defence Duty Officer, whose number I found in the White Pages. He gave me a number for Puckapunyal, which I rang the following day. This number was the security guard at the gate. He redirected me to Range Control and I explained what we wanted to do. A little later Bob Baker from Range Control rang back and advised that the Army would assist us in our mission, and that if we didn't do it within a couple of weeks, the Major would go and do it himself!
So it was that on the morning of Saturday 16th February, Ian and I left Melbourne in drizzling rain, and drove the 100k from Melbourne to Puckapunyal. By the time we had arrived, the rain had stopped and the approch to the base was quite dry. We reported to the guard post and were issued with passes then directed to proceed to the Range Control building. As we drove through the base we were amazed by the number of kangaroos. They were everywhere, and kept the lawns and grass areas well trimmed. There were many emus present as well. The Puckapunyal Base is laid out in harmony with its bushland setting, and but for the occasional squad of soldiers in fatigues passing by or a tank rumbling past, it was ironically a very peaceful location.
When we arrived at Range Control we reported to Gary Willcocks who had been briefed on our mission, and showed us our destination on a topological map of the area. The confluence was located on the side of a small hill just behind one of the small arms ranges. Gary assigned Kevin Thompson to escort us to the site in one of the army vehicles, and we grabbed the marker I had made and set off. For security reasons I cannot describe the base in detail but Ian and I were very interested in the features Kevin pointed out to us as we proceeded. He had heard that there were 40,000 kangaroos in the area covered by the base. I believed him, they were everywhere.
We were able to drive to within about 25 metres of the confluence, scattering kangaroos as we went. It was located in a small group of eucalyptus trees on the side of a gently sloping hill. The grass was eaten down very short and the trees were well spaced out so that access was very easy. We had all zeros up on the GPS without difficulty at an altitude of 233 metres, and the GPS estimated accuracy was 4 metres, which is the highest accuracy estimate I can ever recall seeing. While we were taking photographs at the site, we noticed a wedge-tailed eagle circling overhead, majestically watching what we humans were doing in his domain.
After we finished our business at the site, we returned to Range Control with Kevin, in order to thank Gary for his help. He had been joined by Major Greg Folkard who was quite interested in what we were doing and was keen to see our report on the web site.
We then said goodbye to our friends at Range Control, and paid a quick visit to the Tank Museum which was unfortunately not open for visitors on Saturday.
As we returned to the guard post to hand in our passes and leave the base, we contemplated the many similar adventures people all around the world would be encountering in carrying out confluence visits in unusual places.
Finally we would like to thank the Australian Army for supporting this visit and allowing us access to the confluence point.