The Annual RAEME Get Together.
It is often said “From little things, big things grow,” and this is certainly the case with an idea a couple of retired RAEME people, Stan (Squeaky) New and Bob Carlos had in 2017 based on a similar RAEME gathering in Townsville. From this, the first ever ‘SE Qld RAEME Get Together’ was held in late February 2018 at Somerset Dam, near Kilcoy Qld. The first event boasted 16 “Spanners” some solo, most with partners for a total of 30 people. With limited sites available to us in a central location, Greg Riley couldn’t get a site nearby, and was situated away from the main group, at Bob Carlos’ suggestion, this become known as the Sgt’s Mess Annex, the name stuck and is now an ingrained part of Get Together legend. Unfortunately, ‘Squeaky’ New was unable to attend the event and Dave Roberts stepped up to help. While the weather was unkind with constant drizzle and mud underfoot, thanks to good company and a fair bit of Esprit De Corp, the Get Together was an enormous success, and plans were made to hold another again next year.
The group photo of the RAEME people at first ‘Get Together,’ 2018.
With the success of the first event, a small executive group was set up to keep the Get Together on track, already towing ‘The Sgt’s Mess’, Greg Riley was duly appointed PMC, Dave Roberts for his assistance, as Treasurer and later, Clarrie Sanders as an ordinary member, in addition, each year a volunteer Mister Vice come Master of Ceremonies (MC) is elected to organise and run the next gathering. The MC had a simple brief, the last weekend in February, location must have caravan sites, cabins, camp sites, a body of water for fishing & boating and be no more than a 3-hour tow from Brisbane.
After not being treated well at Somerset, the 2019 Get Together, now boasting around 45 people split between 19 vans, some cabin dwellers and a couple of hardy campers had moved to Storm King Dam near Stanthorpe, this was an ideal location for a return visit, that was until the township ran out of water which included the dam drying up. Not wanting to put unnecessary strain on the town’s resources, the gathering moved to Bjelke Peterson Dam at Moffetdale near Murgon Qld for 2020. A terrific location which fitted the brief well for the 60 plus people that attended.
With over 35 expressions of interest for a van site or cabin booking already in for the 2021 event, the options for where to go were getting less and less, so a return visit to Bjelke Peterson Dam was planned. The return of the Get Together to Bjelke Peterson Dam coincided with a change in management at the Yallakool Caravan Park, the new managers, Heath, and Rowena, couldn’t do enough for the group. From allowing the group to reserve 40 powered sites and all the cabins 6 months before anyone had confirmed their attendance, offering a discounted tariff, supplying an entertainer for Friday night, organising visits from a couple of local wineries for tastings and sales and a visit from the Kingaroy Peanut Van. With this type of support and the facilities to cope with our growing numbers, the Get Together found a permanent home.
The Get Together is finding its ‘rhythm,’ as it evolves, it has become a four-day event from the Thursday lunchtime through to Sunday lunchtime. Some events are becoming Standard Operating Procedure (SOP), the opening of the Sgt’s Mess Thursday night that serves as an early ‘welcome in’, the mess also becomes the hub of most activities over the weekend, everyone attending is an automatic mess member. The daily 1700 happy hour that always seems to start at 1600, is a great social get together. Some ‘me time’ during the day before Friday night’s ‘Meet & Greet’, a great opportunity to see who is there and catch up with old, or to meet new friends. This is followed by some professional entertainment to keep everyone going till bedtime. Saturdays also have some time to yourself with the occasional lawn game of skittles, quoits, bocce, etc during the afternoon before happy hour and Terry (Sandals) Johnson running a karaoke night to keep everyone entertained, there are a few hidden gems in the crowd, there are also a few very rough stones…
The group photo of the RAEME people at the ‘Get Together’, 2020.
From the very first Get Together, a group photo on Sunday morning has become an SOP, it now requires aerial support via drone to get everyone in the photo.
2021 saw the first ‘Sunday Mini Markets’ where the ‘crafty ladies’ and some of the crafty ‘crafties’, had items ranging from homemade preserves, custom jewellery, ceramics, embroidery, wood carvings, honey, photo books and much more for sale.
2022 saw the 5th anniversary Get Together and the executive group organised this one to mark the milestone. A commemorative port and stubby coolers with appropriate labelling were produced, Friday night dinner, thanks to the generous donation of a huge pig to the Get Together by a local company, Swickers, became a spit-roast dinner thanks to the efforts of Greg Riley ably assisted by his brother-in-law Michael in what could only be described as arduous conditions, read utter crap. Other local organisations helped with the loan of a cold-room and other items. Unfortunately, RAEME in the field, even mostly retired RAEME types, seems to attract wet weather, while SE Qld was hit by widespread heavy rain, at the dam it was initially just an inconvenience while trying to cook the pig, then getting to the stage no-one could get into or out of the park due to roads being cut in all directions as far away as Gympie. This included Steve (Pixie) Pointon and the seafood for Saturday night’s dinner, in typical RAEME ‘adapt and overcome’ style, this become an Aussie BBQ dinner. It would be an injustice not to mention all the people that pitched in to make this all happen, especially the best support unit in the ADF, the wives and partners, supporting us while we served, still supporting us now.
The Spit Crew working in trying conditions during the big wet, 2022.
Between cut roads, foul weather, rolling lockdowns and Covid restrictions, about 120 past & present members of the Corp and their partners still managed to enjoy the weekend. From Friday night’s ‘Meet & Greet’, and Spit Roast meal, Saturday’s Aussie BBQ dinner followed by some varied levels of karaoke during the evening. An honourable mention goes out to Lynette Yates, wife of Peter Yates, for setting up and catering for a ladies ‘Cocktail Hour’, this is now another SOP. The weather put paid to any large-scale outdoor gatherings and people tended to huddle in small groups undercover, still a great opportunity to catch up. The rain held off for the Sunday morning Mini Market and the group photo, anyone that managed to make it to the park enjoyed themselves.
The 2023’s Get Together saw the biggest event yet with around 170 people in motorhomes, caravans, camper trailers, tents, swags, cabins, and villas with a few additional day trippers dropping in to say g’day. Thursday’s opening of the Sgt’s Mess kicked off the Get Together, and about 80 people were on site for the happy hour. After the Friday meet & greet, Steve (Pixie) Pointon and family through North Queen Seafood, supplied a fantastic seafood dinner, with an alternative meal for the non-seafood eaters. After this, the park managers again supplied an entertainer for most of the night, what a hoot. Saturday’s 1700 happy hour kicked off at 1500 with the Ladies Cocktail Hour, or two, or three hours, followed by a top meal catered for by the Murgon Rotary Club and then an evening of karaoke and telling yarns as the technology sporadically failed. The Sunday markets were again a big hit and have become so successful, some of the locals have heard about it and drop in for a browse and a bargain. The Get Together even has its own Cookbook, thanks to the incredibly talented Cheryl Clegg, wife of Ian Clegg, launched in both soft-copy and electronic versions, with all proceeds going to the chosen charity of the Get Together, it gives some great tips for making meals on the road.
The Get Together than assembled for the group photos, the announcement of next year’s MC, thanks to Steve (Pixie) Pointon and Peter Pile for stepping up, and the award of the “Busted Ring”. A broken ring spanner mounted on a shield which is awarded to someone that has made a noteworthy ‘error of judgement’ over the preceding year, such as getting bogged on Morton Island, crashing an e-Scooter at last year’s event, writing off an expensive drone, or all three of these, before making a donating to a local charity.
The group photo at the ‘Get Together’ 2023,
With the support the Get Together has received from the local community, be it the park managers, local companies, or local clubs, it seemed only fitting to give something back, after all it is the RAEME way. To this end, the Get Together has ‘adopted’ the Murgon Hospital Auxiliary as its charity of choice so in some small way, we can support an organisation that supports the entire local community. In 2022, with the donation of the pig for the spit, the monies collected for that meal and raised elsewhere, a total of $2,000 was donated to the Murgon Hospital Auxiliary to help complete a re-model of the palliative care annex at the Murgon Hospital. This year thanks again to a lot of local support and the generosity of the group, the Get Together was again able to leave a donation with Muriel Shultz, the President of the auxiliary, this money is to go towards the purchase of a ‘motorised recovery trolley’, so a single staff member can transport a patient from the hospital to the helipad if required. After being forewarned that this year’s donation may not match last year’s efforts, the look on the auxiliary presidents face when she heard the amount of $3,260 as Greg Riley handed over the donation was priceless.
The look on the auxiliary presidents face when she heard the amount of $3,260, priceless.
With people such as Colin Howard driving from South Australia, Trevor & Jackie Gillam trekking all the way from Tasmania to attend, Glen Jones having flown in from Thailand to attend but having to return home due to a change in schedule and with others coming from as far afield as Victoria and Far North Queensland, for next year, the SE Qld section of the original Get Together title has been dropped in favour of RAEME Annual Get Together
To get involved with next year’s Get Together, search for “RAEME Annual Get Together 23/2 - 25/2 2024 Bjelke-Petersen Dam” on Facebook.
Arte et Marte
A big thank you to Clarrie Sanders who wrote the article.