Bernie called at 5.45pm and 7pm on Sunday. The trekkers are all well at Templeton’s Crossing.
Last night there was a bit of drama, I think as the trekkers were off having tea; a couple of camp dogs ripped up Lindsay and Julie’s tents and stole the scroggin from their packs! I think Julie’s tent was still useable, but Lindsay slept in a hut and repairs have been done to his tent (to allay any concerns: the camp dogs are fairly skinny, weak creatures; nothing to worry about in terms of attacks etc – unless, apparently, you’re a bag of peanuts and lollies…)
Sunday was a fairly long but amazing day, with a bit of everything. They started with a lovely dawn service at the Isurava monument. They also had a nice ceremony at Con’s Rock, where Butch Bissett died. Catherine sang Danny Boy really well, which I’m sure would have been very moving.
At Alola the trekkers got to catch up with Kila and Lovelyn and family, so Brian got to meet his wafe’s namesake, ‘baby’ Joan. They then had a nice walk from Alola to Eora Creek – as there is still no bridge there, they had to take off their boots and wade through.
The last hour to Templeton’s Crossing was very wet and muddy. They are staying at a new camp, on the other side of the creek. The bridge there has the engineers in the group gasping; quite an impressive structure apparently.
When Bernie called, the trekkers were sitting around having soup, waiting for tea. It was a very good day.
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As you would know, the Tribute trekkers have now returned from PNG, and no doubt enjoyed their own beds (and showers) last night.
Meanwhile, the Retreat trekkers arrived at Isurava battlefield on Saturday afternoon, where they set up camp. They had a leisurely domestic afternoon with plenty of time to enjoy the monument, where they would have held a dawn service this morning.
In an indication that yesterday’s walk wasn’t as wet and slippery as what the Tribute trekkers encountered last week, Bernie reported that Zorana made it all the way to Isurava battlefield without a speck of mud on her pink socks…but then it rained, heavily and for a long time.
The plan for today is to walk to Templeton’s Crossing, via Alola and Eora Creek, although for the next few days they will play it by ear a bit in terms of how far they walk and where they set up camp.
Bernie called at 3.42pm today and reported that the trekkers are all well at Isurava.
Upon leaving Eora Creek this morning, 14 of the trekkers headed to Abuari while the rest went straight to Alola. Bernie described the walk to Abuari as beautiful but dark and gloomy; it rained pretty much the whole time and the rivers were all running. Abuari was very misty and they couldn’t see Isurava or Alola from there because of the fog.
The 14 visited the waterfall, which was an absolute torrent; they were just about blown away from the wind coming off it, and as a result had to stand much further back than usual to take photos.
They then had a long downhill, although thankfully this time there was a good bridge over the river. I believe Ian has been keeping track of the river crossings, so it will be interesting to see what the final figure is for this remarkably wet trek. It was a tiring day of trekking, mostly because they’re all so wet. Even those who went straight to Alola found it tough; rivers you’d normally step across are now raging torrents.
Unlike most previous Centacare Kokoda treks, the K12s have encountered leeches ‘all over the place’; big, fat ones in ‘all sorts of places’. Responses upon discovering said leeches have reportedly ranged from ‘high-pitched-girlish-squeal-and-brush-off-as-soon-as-possible’ to ‘let’s-get-some-good-photos-of-it-first-then-decide-the-coolest-way-to-remove-it’. The abundance of leeches is due largely to the fact they’ve walked through some areas where few venture, meaning there is more foliage in close proximity (especially on the little-used Eora-Abuari track).
The trekkers all met up again in Alola, where they had a nice time. They saw the famous ‘baby’ Joan, but not her mother Lovelyn, who was out working in the gardens at the time.
They arrived at Isurava around 3pm and have been scraping the mud off themselves since then, while undoubtedly taking in the eerie beauty of the battle site and monument. Dad says Isurava is as beautiful as ever. There is another group headed from Alola to Isurava this afternoon, and when they arrive they’ll come to some arrangement about dawn services at the monument tomorrow morning (there shouldn’t be a problem as it is one of Wayne Enright’s groups).
All in all, it sounds like they’ve had a wet, muddy, tiring, amazing time. Not long to go now…
Bernie called on Sunday night from Eora Creek. The trekkers are all doing well.
They got away from camp at 6.30am yesterday and arrived at Eora Creek at 4pm. Their day included climbing to the highest point of the Track (Mount Bellamy) and passing through Templeton’s Crossing; a quite lovely section of the Track. There is no bridge across Eora Creek at the moment, only a log part-way across, meaning the trekkers have had to wade through. They stayed at a new campsite on the river, on the other side of the creek to the usual spot; it is a nice campsite, but small, so they were packed in fairly tight (here’s hoping they slept well and weren’t kept awake by snoring fellow trekkers!)
Sunday was another very muddy, rainy day, but the K12s had a nice day. Despite having mud and water through everything (clothes, shoes, tents), the trekkers are in good spirits. They have a real sense of “we’re going to make it!” They must be doing pretty well because their main concern was finding out the footy results, which I was able to pass on.
Today, the K12s head to Isurava. Ten of the trekkers will be going there via Abuari, an optional ‘detour’ which takes them to a different village on one of the wartime tracks while the rest of the group go straight to Isurava via Alola (the Abuari group will re-join the rest of the group at either Alola or Isurava). Because the Abuari trekkers will not pass it today, those ten did a bit of an extra walk after getting to Eora Creek last night to see some gun positions…they then had to cross the creek in near-darkness upon their return, which would have been an interesting challenge.
Today will involve less walking hours than they’re now used to, but I suspect they will enjoy a fairly lengthy stop in Alola and probably a full afternoon at the haunting Isurava battle site.
With only a couple of days of the ‘Tribute Trek’ to go, the ‘Retreat Trekkers’ are gearing up to join the rest of the K12s in PNG.
Anyone wish they were going too…?
Bernie (dad) called at 6pm on tonight from camp at 1900 Crossing. They’re all well.
Today was a huge day. From Brigade Hill, they took a different route down Mission Ridge – it is a route very few people take and they even had to have some of the scrub cleared in order for them to get through. They went through some of the original Australian positions, and found mortars – pretty amazing after 70 years, and a stark reminder of the war and those who fought and died there; those to whom the trekkers are paying respect on this Tribute Trek.
The K12s traversed some very slippery ground and some tricky river crossings, taking off their boots and using ropes to cross some of the rivers. It rained the whole day and was extremely muddy, but the trekkers are all cheerful. They went up to Kagi and tackled a very big uphill to 1900 Crossing which took about 3 hours. Dad went so far as to say that today was one of the toughest days he’s ever done for the sheer amount of mud and slipping, and it included THE toughest 3 hour stint – so that’s saying something.
They got into camp at about 4.30pm. They all have tents full of wet clothes, but there’s nothing they can do about that and they’re all well and in good spirits. They’ve enjoyed a dinner of mashed potato with cut up sausages and gravy.
Tomorrow they’ll probably skip Myola, given the huge day they’ve had today, and will go straight to Eora Creek. So they’ll have a mere 9 hour walk on Sunday (it is the day of rest after all…)
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.