Gladstone’s Cadet Edwards Braves Harsh Conditions For Chief Of Army Challenge.

Gladstone’s Cadet Edwards Braves Harsh Conditions For Chief Of Army Challenge.

Tristan Edwards has just returned from a week of competing in the tough conditions of Puckapunyal winter in the Chief of Army Challenge (COAC).

Tristan was carefully chosen for this annual event after his recognition as one of his unit’s most elite cadets, as part of a lengthy selection process.

“First, your Cadet Unit Commander (OIC) needs to recognise you as a part of the most elite few cadets in the unit. That’s the easy part! After that, you get flown up to Townsville Lavarack Barracks to take part in the Selection Weekend, where you compete against the other most elite cadets from around North Queensland in a weekend of hard activities as a team, in order to make it onto the team of the ’10 best’ in North Queensland,” said Tristan.

The Chief Of Army program is a national-level competition that is highly regarded among Australia’s cadets. A place in this challenge ensures that these young people are Australia’s best and brightest Army cadets.

“Every minute of this challenge period is designed to push you and your team to your limits at Puckapunyal.”

The week-long course was split up into different stages that had a different focus and skill required, with the first four days filled with training and review activities involving navigation, first-aid, live fire, field craft and signals. The last three days were ‘challenge days’, where cadets were sent into the 12 square kilometre rough and muddy terrain of the Puckapunyal training area, finishing with an ending parade with the Chief of Army present.

When Tristan finishes school next year, he intends to enter into the Defense Force as a diesel mechanic in the Royal Australian Electrical & Mechanical Engineers, inspired by his love for both army and non-army vehicles. In the spirit of setting the bar high, Tristan also hopes to earn the Duke of Edinburgh award, which is an internationally-recognised award that recognises youth for completing a series of self-improvement exercises.

“This takes two to four years to complete on average, and there is a ceremony in Brisbane once you complete the gold level for it. This is also recognised by employers all over the country.”

Army Cadets are currently recruiting, and have a unit here in Gladstone. For more information go to