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.
My name is Liz Maddigan and for the past 5 years my husband Richard and I have had the pleasure of belonging to Bernie’s group of trekkers. We have shared many K’s, hills, laughs,and yarns with an amazing group of people. During this time we have also seen many of these people take up the challenge of raising money for Auricht House, training, and then walking the Kokoda Track. I have loved listening to their stories and at times felt inspired to walk the Track as well. Richard was never keen to tackle the jungle of PNG with its humidity, exotic diseases, etc, so I decided it wasn’t for me either as we always do everything together.
However, with the K12 walk being the last one for Centacare and the 70th anniversary of the battles of Kokoda, I have decided to go it alone. It’s now or never for me. Richard has been totally supportive and we both feel very passionate about the cause, especially as we have been so fortunate in our own families with good health including now with our first grand child, Matilda. My main inspiration on the track will definitely be those families doing it tough and facing endless challenges everyday.
My late father Frank was also in PNG during WW2. Even though he was not fighting on the track itself, he was involved in malaria control with the RAAF and it will be good to be the only family member to have walked where he walked all those years ago.
If you wish to support Liz’s fundraising efforts you can visit her sponsorship website at http://www.everydayhero.com.au/liz_maddigan