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.
Please support our Retreat trekkers fundraising efforts by visiting the sponsorship website at http://www.everydayhero.com.au/bernie_victory.
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 11am on Saturday 15th from Isurava Village. The Retreat trekkers are all well.
They left Kokoda at about 4pm on Friday, and walked for one and a half hours to Hoi. While this part of the Track isn’t particularly steep or hilly, it is somewhat open at this point and Bernie says it was hotter than at any point over the past week and a half.
They spent last night in Hoi, which is reportedly as beautiful as always. As they were having tea there was a bit of a downpour – a few leaky tents, but not too bad. This morning they walked to Isurava Village via Deniki – they are all talking about how hard that climb was, which is of great satisfaction to me and, I’m sure, all others who have done the walk from Kokoda and had to deal with the trekkers who’ve done the Track the other way saying “hard? there’s no steep climb there!
This is a smaller, quieter group than the Tribute trek group. So far they’re walked at a fairly steady, easy pace. Ben has been wandering around in awe, wishing he had brought more camera batteries. Alice has been excellent, bringing enthusiasm and careful attention to detail to her role as medical officer, ensuring everyone takes the right drugs and dishing out advice as required. Peter is enjoying the lack of city sounds and, in particular, the lack of phones. Brian is loving the jungle but still can’t believe he has people putting his tent up for him!
The trekkers expect to arrive at the Isurava battlefield around 2pm today. Some of them hope to walk up to the B Company positions. The others will surely spend the afternoon enjoying the magnificent view while reflecting quietly on the sad significance of this most beautiful, moving site.
I’ve passed on the footy results but I’m sure the trekkers are also keen to hear from friends and family, so keep the messages coming and I’ll pass them on when possible.
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…?
Those battalions which had been fighting constantly for two weeks since Isurava, 2/16th and 2/14th, needed rest. Consequently 2/27th was placed in the front line on Mission Ridge while the other two battalions were placed behind, in reserve on Brigade Hill. There were about 1400 Australians and 1570 Japanese in the area.
On 7 September, 1942 the Japanese attack commenced. With artillery support, the Japanese attacked the 2/27th on Mission Ridge. Though the fighting continued until early the following morning the Japanese were unable to take any ground from the Australians, half of whose losses were to a bombardment from the six big Japanese guns.
As night fell on 7 September the other Japanese battalion commenced an incredible night march. At dawn on the 8th, the Japanese found the Kokoda track in the Australian rear. A number of counter attacks, including the heroic but ill-fated charge led by Claude Nye and Lefty Langridge, failed to dislodge the Japanese. The Australians on Mission Ridge withdrew to join those on Brigade Hill and the whole cut their way south, through the jungle.
Australian casualties at Efogi were 87 dead and 77 wounded. The Japanese lost 60 dead and 165 wounded. These figures are not a true reflection of the catastrophe which overtook the Australians at Efogi. An additional 500 men, mainly from 2/27th Battalion, without food, marched south through the mountains for up to three weeks before rejoining their own force.
Written by Lucy Jenner
On this day in 1942 at Isurava the 39th Battalion were exhausted. They had faced repeated Japanese probing attacks for weeks, they were poorly equipped and had spent too long manning weapon pits in pouring rain. But there were signs of hope. Their new commanding officer, Lieutenant Colonel Ralph Honner, had arrived and was instilling some much-needed confidence and organisation into the 39th. And at 5pm the first of the relieving 2/14th AIF troops walked into their camp. Within a day the Japanese were to launch a powerful assault on the Australians.
Meanwhile the 2/27th were still at Sogeri near the start of the Track. They had been held back in case the Japanese forces won the battle at Milne Bay and attacked Port Moresby from the sea. They received word on this day to prepare to move, and some headquarters personnel headed up to check out the Kokoda Track.