Monthly Archives: July 2012
On Saturday a group of K12s and other trekkers travelled to Black Rock near Peterborough to meet Eric Sambell, a veteran of Kokoda. Eric was part of the 2/27th AIF Battalion and fought in the Egypt, Syria, Kokoda, Gona, Shaggy Ridge and Borneo campaigns. Eric is one of a very small number of surviving 2/27th veterans. We were able to spent a few hours with Eric as he told of his time in the AIF, concentrating on the battles at Mission Ridge and Brigade Hill. Eric was a Bren Gunner and he was part of the group lost in the jungle for 2 weeks after the retreat from Brigade Hill. His memory of detail was razor sharp and he expressed a keen interest in our trip. We will be working on a brief video of our time with Eric for those who were unable to be there.
Eric has asked us to visit the graves of some of his mates in Bomana War cemetery. We hope to be able to make another trip up to Kate’s farm after K12 to catch up with Eric and show him photos of our visit.
It is a privilege to be able to join the Centacare Kokoda Challenge again.
I was lucky enough to be part of the first Kokoda Challenge in 2004 and again in 2009 and 2011. Walking the Kokoda Track as a fundraiser to help kids with a disability and their families gives me the extra impetus to put one foot in front of the other foot, time after time after time after time. Knowing that you are going to spend a week in beautiful Papua New Guinea and will be welcomed by the locals into their pretty villages on the Track is the bonus that makes all the training worthwhile.
All of my times on the Track have been exhausting, exhilarating, surprising and , yes, challenging… but the hardest part is just standing on Brigade Hill and remembering what happened there to the magnificent 2/27th Battalion AIF in 1942. My dear Dad, Doug, was in that Battalion and on that Hill. He always remembered the Hill as “Butchers’ Hill”. No explanation needed.
It was for Dad and his mates, those who made it home and those who didn’t, that I first did the Track in 2004 and it is for the memory of him and his mates that I will do it one last time.
They are honoured that this year’s Centacare Kokoda Challenge, on the 70th anniversary of the battles on the Track, will be a special and fitting tribute to the 2/27th Battalion.
All being well, I will be on Brigade Hill exactly 70 years to the day that Doug was there. How good is that?
Thank you to Centacare and especially to Bernie Victory for making it so.
Why Kokoda? It has been a goal of mine since I first became aware as a teenager of the sacrifices made by the soldiers of Australia who believed our nation was worth dying for and so many did pay that ultimate price.
My Father actually fought in the later years of the war in Papua New Guinea and surrounding Islands. He didn’t talk of this time and rarely attended Anzac Services or marches. I had little understanding of his involvement and really didn’t look into things until after his passing in 1992. I am slowly piecing together his movements and understanding the way things were back then in 1939- 1945.
My Journey to Kokoda is special to me as it will crystallize in my mind and the mind’s of my children who always want to attend the Anzac Day services, the great price paid by our men and women so long ago for the freedom we all now enjoy.
During the tough times along the track I will endure and succeed because I will think of those who’ve gone before me and those families we have raised money for at Auricht House.
I look forward to sharing the memories of the track with anyone who listens.
You can support Lyall’s fundraising efforts by visiting his sponsorship site at http://www.everydayhero.com.au/lyall_willis
On this day 70 years, ago two platoons of the 39th battalion who had just been sent over the Owen Stanley Ranges fought the Japanese in the first major contact of the campaign. They met at a place called Oivi (we will pass through Oivi on September 12 on our way to the Beaches). A young private, Sidney Moffatt was the first soldier killed in the campaign. Around 5 O’Clock on the next day the leader of this small group of untrained militia, Captain Sam Templeton, was killed. Both groups of trekkers will stop at Templeton’s Crossing on Eora Creek which was named after Captain Templeton.
So why would you want to go back on the Kokoda track after breaking your leg on day 2 last year, is the question many people have asked. I guess the first thing is to go back and finish what I set out to do last year.
1. have some time for myself , I guess a journey of reflection
2. to gain insight in what our soldiers went through
3. to help raise funds for such a worthy cause.
Some things have changed from last year my own daughter who has complex disabilities has moved into supported accommodation ,which has allowed me some time for reflection.
On reflection what we go through on the Kokoda Track: walk when you don’t want to walk anymore, climb when you are too tired to get to your destination, go without the comforts that most people have, carry a pack that is heavy and feels like a burden is very similar to how I have lived my life and some of those choices were influenced by having a father who was a soldier in the Vietnam War. We would move and then pack the next day and move again as if someone was firing at us, for some soldiers the war never ends. I went to 10 primary schools and 3 high schools so I feel like the reading I have to do and Bernie’s night briefings are giving me a lesson in history that I missed out on from all that moving.
I was never very good at sport so the training has allowed me to experience some discipline and push myself physically. And along the way on the Kokoda Track you stop long enough to experience gratitude for what you do have and you hear the children laughing or the delight on their faces when chasing bubbles from a simple bubble blower. You remember what the fundraising is for and how lucky we really are. How Australia with all its changes is still a great country to live in and be grateful for the men and women who fought in World War 2 so we could have this life this experience.
If you wish to support Corina’s fundraising efforts you can visit her sponsorship website at: http://www.everydayhero.com.au/corina_poole
I have just received a weather update from Wayne at Kokoda Spirit. He tells us that they are in the middle of the wettest July on the Track in his memory. With the large number of trekkers at the moment the Track is pretty churned up. This doesn’t necessarily mean it will be like that in September but it is good that we have had a few wet Saturdays for training.
But wet or dry I do need to send your blue forms to Kokoda Spirit by Monday 23rd at the latest. Still waiting for 12 to come in. If you are still waiting for flight information or Travel Insurance documentation please send the forms in anyway and we’ll send the additional information in later.
I’m Ben Clark…
I am 17 years old and attend Woodcroft College in SA. I love to express my creativity and vision through my Art and Photography, which I am most passionate about. Keeping fit is also something that has been within me forever.
I have been involved with many different sporting commitments throughout my life since I can remember. I’m fond of the outdoors and love to experience every part of this world while I travel as much can and hope to do more so in the future.
I guess the young Australians around my age that were injured and killed during WWII in Papua New Guinea, had no idea of what was waiting for them. I have been inspired to trek the Kokoda Trail because I wish to experience the Track for myself and walking in our soldier’s footsteps would be an honourable privilege.
A bit of hard yakka every Saturday morning is significantly preparing me for Kokoda. My physical and mental capabilities are increasing and I believe I can confront Kokoda along with the sort conditions it holds. However I believe this is immense challenge I’m going to face and I am willing to pursue it for the experience, self achievement and my fellow Australians that have fought and died to save our nation.
“Life is short, some opportunities only come once… seize them.”
If you wish to support Ben’s fundraising efforts you can visit his sponsorship website at: http://www.everydayhero.com.au/ben__graham_fundraising_for_kokoda_challenge_with_centacare
Kierkegaard and Chuck Norris in PNG – and a Personal Profile.
It is held by some critics that Soren Kierkegaard [Danish philosopher: 1813 – 1855] was a miserable bugger. I contend that this is an ill conclusion, an unjust conclusion, and that in fact Soren was a beacon, the Chuck Norris of his day, a siren call to arms. In his own way, Siren, as he is now fondly remembered, without even setting foot in New Guinea, paved the intellectual and psychological path that we trekkers dare to tread. Chuck followed in his own way, the physical expression of Soren’s ruminations.
Forget that Siren ditched his girlfriend, Regine, for the higher purpose of contemplation, and not for the fact that she was moonlighting in Dancing with the Danes– and not withstanding also her prowess as the Great Dane, the Tattooed Transvestite of Thorburg – occupations that would have held him in both fear and trembling, conditions, prime causes, if ever there were, of discombobulation.
Kierkegaard’s head wasn’t helped by the transition from feudal to capitalist society; the subsequent intellectual and ethical transition from past intellectual and religious rigidity could either lead to moral abandonment, reflective nihilism or existential despair, or a contortion of all. Siren’s resolution as befitting a person properly suspicious of all authority and old values sought to realise the impossibility of faith and the possibility of religious and personal integrity as befitting the father of existentialism. Put simply, what Chuck Norris could do with his fists, Siren could do with words and ideas.
Clearing out hindrances are as much about doing as thinking, but each in its own equal way, if we are to prepare fertile paths for new adventures. That there exists no equivocation as to the merits of the Norris way, it has been said that using only his karate chop he could shave all men who did not shave themselves. Ergo, such is the self evident nature of the truth of a Norris utterance is the fact that Norris never argued …. he just allowed you to accept his position …truly the instinctive path fashioned in the crucible of Siren’s cogitations.
Siren and Norris, then, are two different sides of the same florin, both astonished and cruelled by their voluntary isolation yet determined to flesh out an authentic response in the face of hostility. And in a calmer fashion, trekkers reject the drowning of the numbing everyday as we fashion a new raft to carry us beyond the crowd as we renew ourselves through treks and travels. Like Nietzsche, Siren established that mountains confront us as both physical and mental objects.
And Kokoda resists justification, as realised by both, and stands rightly and resolutely behind its own impenetrability. Such then is the strength of existential endeavour that Norris conceived of mountains without valleys though some held that the strength of that belief owed more to Norris’ belief that others had a drinking problem, not him, if, indeed, there is such a condition.
So, there is no sense in asking why, or feeling some embarrassing compulsion to fashion a truth, apart from basking in a large modicum of self importance.
All of this makes sense, doesn’t it.
If questions of meaning and reason are unquenched in the eyes of the inquisitor, then there is another shield. Do mountains exist? This is, I’ve read, not an easy question to answer in the affirmative. These believers also wrestle with other gems like, “Why are cliffs vertical?”
Does a snow leopard know it is on a mountain? When does a heap of stones become a cairn, a hill become a mountain, is a mountain a point or a region, and so on. Or as Nietzsche, an enthusiast, might have contended, a furry confusions of definition and truth that get pushed away in the pursuit of happiness.
No doubt you‘ll be wrestling with these little beauties as you grind up Imita Ridge, a brief relief from some inane song you’ve got bottled up in your head.
I reckon, though, the meaning of all of this rests with Norris,
“If a lion could talk, Chuck Norris could understand it.”
Rocks and mud will not talk, nor will they connive, though you could swear that they’re out to get you sometimes. Nor will the Track swallow you up, being as benign as all things natural, mute and insensitive. All that will surround you is brute beauty; our freedom, to reduce the track to elements to suit our passing. Well, apart from that bloody song you can’t get out of your head.
The last word, though, belongs to someone who said of our legendary heroes,
“Kierkegaard wrote fear and Trembling in honour of Chuck Norris’ left and right fists.”  Nuff said.
Note.  Most but not all references to Chuck Norris collected by but used without the permission of Andrea Borghini.