Chris Adey’s Reflection
I’ve had a chance to reflect on my experience of ‘The Track’, through so many people asking me “How was it?” and i’m sure that as the weeks go on other ideas will surface. For now though here it is:
When I first contemplated ‘doing Kokoda’ it was more in the context of completing a physically demanding challenge. I had heard of others who had completed the journey and they all said how hard it was so I looked upon the trek as mostly physical. Certainly, the training we did seemed to reinforce that idea. However, having read a couple of books – The Coast Watchers and Peter Fitzsimmons “Kokoda”, I became aware that there was a deeper dimension – that of remembering the Australians who had been on the Track in 1942/3. Before I left for PNG I drew up a timeline of the significant battles and movements that occurred and had them laminated so that I could remind myself of what happend at the various ‘significant sites’ and on the ‘relevant dates’ that coincided with our Trek.
I think now that walking the Track as we did, with our daily briefings, personal reflections and our memorial services, made it a type of pilgrimmage. Because of this, walking the Track, for me now, is no longer just a physical challenge [as hard as it was], but will always be a journey of respect and remembrance of the young (and not so young) men who fought, lived and died there.
Walking the Track also gave me plenty of time to think and over several days I really thought about what I could take away from my experiences that I might share with my kids and grandkids – life lessons, if you will. At night I jotted these reflections down in my journal so that I would remember them, and it is my intention to write them up, fill them out and when the time is right pass them on.
Lastly, I came away with the conviction that Australia needs to recognise the Kokoda Campaign, just as we do the Landing at and Battle of Anzac Cove that we celebrate on April 25th. It also occured to me that we, as a now large group of Trekkers over 9 years, could be a significant voice in establishing a yearly memorial. What form that might take, and what significant others we might recruit from the Australian community, who have also ‘done the Track’, are only vague ideas as yet. To do nothing, though, is to suggest that what happended on the Track in 42/3 is not really relevant to us as Austalians. “Lest we Forget.”