Chris Dyer speaks about his experience during Cams Cause Kokoda Spirit Trek 2018:
Earlier this month (July 2018) a team set off under the Cam’s Cause banner to attempt the infamous Kokoda Track under the guidance of Wayne “Bosso” Wetherall from Kokoda Spirit.
Our aim as a group was to walk in honour of CPL Cameron Baird VC MG, our nations 100th Victoria Cross recipient. Or “Bairdy” as he was known to many. But further to that we wanted to pay our respects to the diggers that fought on the track in 1942 and keep their story alive.
What we underestimated as a group was just how amazing this journey would be and the lasting memories that were to come over the next 9 days.
This was also a fundraiser for Cam’s Cause, with all money raised going directly towards soldier welfare camps. These camps invest in the long term psychological and physical care of our elite special forces soldiers.
Setting off from Owers Corner we met our porters and trekking guides. It was clear from the start that the relationship Wayne had with the PNG people was amazing. Due to the care and treatment of his porters and the work Wayne does investing back into PNG tourism, you could see the porters were proud to wear the Kokoda Spirit shirt.
With Kokoda our target, this group of trekkers and porters formed a strong bond right from the start. To anyone debating whether to get a porter or not, I would highly recommend getting one. They are amazing people who represent their ancestors, the “fuzzy wuzzy angels” with pride.
Day after day we were blown away by the scenery and the spiritual side to the track. The Kokoda Track is untouched and therefore you get a realistic feel of what it would have been like back in 1942 when the 39th Battalion initially marched across it.
Every day we would walk through villages and camps spots that have to be seen to be believed. Iorabaiwa, Nauro, Agulogo, Menari, Efogi, Isurava, Eora Creek, Hoi were places that you simply cannot describe.
Every night our porters would sing songs about the track which just took the experience to another level. A special mention to Ruben the porter for his guitar efforts every night. An awesome guy to say the least!
We were constantly marvelled by Wayne’s knowledge and passion for the track and more importantly the diggers that fought on it. At Brigade Hill and Isurava we held two of the most moving services for the diggers. Poems were emotionally read out, the last post was played and the sacrifices that were made by our diggers were remembered and honoured.
Isurava in particular deserved an honourable mention. The view of the four stone pillars marking Courage, Endurance, Mateship and Sacrifice was a site that left us all in awe.
It was equally as moving to hold our service at the rock and plaque where Private Bruce Steele Kingsbury earnt his Victoria Cross by pushing a wave of Japanese back with his Bren gun, creating a turning point in the battle. Kingsbury was then killed instantly by a sniper whilst reloading his Bren gun by that exact rock. To stand at that rock and read Bairdys Victorian Cross Citation and explain it more in depth, was something I personally will never ever forget.
All of these emotional highs and physical challenges are what make the journey of Kokoda such an accomplishment.
Walking into Kokoda will be undoubtedly remain one of the most moving moments of my life. One which will be cherished forever. The pride to see what our group had achieved together, the friendships that were made and the bonds that were forged are all feelings that you cannot buy.
This group of Australians banded together and achieved something special. Something they can look back on for years to come and be proud of. Not only did they conquer the Kokoda Track, they paid respects and honoured all diggers past and present and raised an amount of just over $55000. An amount that far exceeded any expectations. At this point I would like to point out $24000 of that total was donated solely by Kokoda Spirit. The efforts Kokoda Spirit put in to donating to charities is remarkable. On top of that the work Wayne puts in to supporting the country of PNG and its people is inspiring.
This amazing journey would not have been as life changing as it was if it was not for Wayne’s professional and accommodating service. It was said constantly by everyone along the track how happy they were to be trekking with Kokoda Spirit. Wayne’s amazing office team of Julie and Lyn were a pleasure to deal with and bent over backwards for anything we asked.
The cherry on top was spending a night either side at the amazing Stanley Hotel. There was no better way to end our adventure than with beers and burgers by the pool 🙂
On behalf of all involved at Cam’s Cause we want to thank Wayne for what he has helped us to achieve and commend him on the work he is doing over on the Kokoda Track. This is a partnership I believe will continue long into the future where we can work together to achieve some great results.
To Rach, Glenn, Robbo, Linda, Cal, Jodie, Raz, Mal, Trav, Brocky, Andrew, Vicki, Ben, Nick, Amy, Sam, Tim, Kelly, Kev, Tania, Mitchy and Laura……. Thank you.
You guys were awesome. This was a time in our lives where we achieved so much as a team. The memories we will always share together!! What you all did as a group was enable Cam’s Cause to honour our mate Bairdy in a way he would have been proud of.
And for that we are forever grateful.