Is it just me or does everyone think we need to go on more adventures?
I’m just back from the Kokoda Track. It’s my third time across the mighty Owen Stanley Ranges but it never gets any easier, any less exciting or life affirming. We had wet weather.
It’s always wet around ANZAC Day so we were reasonably prepared but a wet sleeping bag is not really something you can prepare for, trust me. I’ve climbed The Wall and Brigade Hill before but it still had me in tears.
I’ve looked out across the Kokoda Gap before but it still took my breath away. I’ve held babies on the track before they still stole my heart.
People always ask me what the trek is like and why I keep going back?
Papua New Guinea is one of the most beautiful counties I have ever been too. It’s lush and leafy, with ancient pandanus forests and moss in every shade of green. The track winds to the heavens with rushing waterfalls, grassy terraces to rest on and pristine mountain villages.
The people of the track are just as beautiful. During WWII the locals were described as angels by the soldiers they helped. One digger wrote: They carry stretchers over seemingly impassable barriers, keeping the patient comfortable. If night finds the stretcher still on the track, they will find a level spot and build a shelter over the patient. They will make him as comfortable as possible, fetch him water and feed him if food is available, regardless of their own needs.
Porters are no different today. They carry your stuff and gently encourage when the going gets tough, ‘Slowly, slowly, do not be so impatient.’ Porters collect water, sort tents, cook meals and then sleep huddled together around the fire. My porter is the only reason I have ever made it across the track.
And there is the history. When 10 Thousand Japanese landed in PNG, Australia initially sent just one thousand under-trained and poorly equipped men to the fray. Those ‘ragged bloody heroes’ put up a desperate fight, slowing wearing the Japanese down until they turned away, beaten and exhausted. Approximately 625 Australians were killed and more than 1600 wounded. Sickness killed 4000 more.
Wayne Wetherill of Kokoda Spirit is a track expert. He is ‘Bosso’ to villagers along the track, he fights both the Australian and PNG Governments for the rights of PNG land owners and honours our soldiers by knowing their names and telling their stories.
If I can walk the Kokoda Track, then anyone can. A week of camp food, hard slog and war tales around the fire are good for the soul. And I don’t care if you heard me cry on the radio, I promise you’ll love it.
Caroline Hutchinson 92.7Mix FM xxx