I just had a call from Pauline, who is relaxing with a coffee at the Gateway Motel in Port Moresby. This morning, Chris Adey flew out, Pauline went to the airport to collect Peter’s bag, which didn’t arrive with him on Tuesday, and Lyall met up with some local friends before heading home.
As for the K12s heading to the Beaches: one of the guides Pauline spoke to in PoM said he thinks they’re still stuck in Kokoda, but Pauline’s friend Cecily, in Kokoda, thinks they’ve left Kokoda – so who knows?! Hopefully, they’re at or en route to the Beaches. At this stage they’ll probably only visit Buna, as they then need to be back at Popondetta by about 7am tomorrow to get their flight back to PoM.
This afternoon, Brian Schumacher will arrive in Port Moresby, and he and Pauline will spend the afternoon touring around PoM with a guide. They (and Peter’s bag) will then fly to Popondetta tomorrow morning to meet the rest of the group and distribute additional Leukoplast tape, fungal cream and video camera memory cards (which Brian kindly packed last night) to the back-to-back trekkers and – perhaps as importantly – supplies of cheese, Vegemite and mayonnaise to Cecily (essential items the villagers cannot buy in Kokoda!).
Pauline reports that it was hot and sunny in Kokoda yesterday – hopefully that means the Retreat trek will be a bit less wet than the Tribute trek. The Tribute trekkers’ spirits were given a real boost by the arrival of Alice, Ben, Zorana, Paul and Peter yesterday, with their bountiful energy and enthusiasm. Ben was taking lots of photos and Alice took over drug duties (making sure everyone was taking their anti-malaria medication etc.), in between general excited bouncing around the campsite.
We may not hear from the group tonight due to a lack of battery and reception, but whether they’re at Buna or Kokoda I understand that they’re enjoying the break before flying home or commencing the walk back over the Track to Ower’s Corner.
Pauline, Alice, Zorana, Paul, Ben and Peter flew from Port Moresby to Kokoda mid-morning today. All but Pauline have now gone to join the Tribute trekkers to head to the Northern Beaches, except Chris Adey and Lyall who have flown back to Port Moresby with Pauline. Those three are not going to the Beaches – Chris and Lyall will, I believe, return home in the next few days (please note this is not due to injury or illness; this was the plan all along), while Pauline hopes to visit some people and places in and around Port Moresby before joining the rest of the Retreat trekkers at Kokoda on Friday, along with Brian Schumacher who leaves Adelaide tomorrow.
Confused? Yeah me too!
Some of the Retreat trekkers departed Adelaide bright and early this morning to join their fellow K12s (in their muddy, wet, stinky glory) at Kokoda or Popondetta (depending on where the plane can land in the wet conditions).
Pauline, Alice, Zorana, Ben, Paul and Peter were farewelled by a small, bleary-eyed crew, and arrived in Brisbane mid-morning. They had a 3 hour wait for their next flight and will arrive in PNG later today. Brian Schumacher heads off on Thursday, and the rest of the Retreat trekkers are already in PNG as they are doing the Tribute + Retreat option (Bernie, Brenton, Sam, Catherine, Lindsay and Julie) – I wonder what they’re thinking about that decision now!
Most of the K12s who are coming home after the Northern Beaches will arrive in Adelaide on Saturday evening (15th September), and most of the rest of the group will return on Sunday 23rd September…so we’ve still got a while to go; I do hope you stay tuned and keep those messages from home coming – especially for those who are not even quite halfway through their adventure yet!
If you wish to support the Centacare Kokoda Challenge team’s fundraising efforts you can visit the sponsorship website at http://www.everydayhero.com.au/bernie_victory or by downloading the donation form here.
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.
I started walking with Bernie’s group of mountain goats back in June 2006 after being prodded by Graham Clark my Brother in-law. The one thing I find in common besides the love of walking through torrential rain falls and blistering heat up the sides of mountains that no goat would go, is the fact that we have nothing better to do on a Saturday Morning! “Essentially flat” – what a load of cobblers!
Anyway this resulted in doing Kokoda in Oct 2008 with a bunch of similarly lost souls. The one thing I clearly remember about the track was standing looking at a hole in the ground and picturing the poor buggers that had to sit there cold, wet, exhausted and scared out of their wits 70 odd years ago. I find it absolutely amazing and horrified at the same time that so many Australians know so little about this part of the war and these poor souls that were so critical to Australia at the time. Anyway that’s why I’m going back to at least raise some awareness of their sacrifices. Raising Money for Auricht House is such a great cause, and I have been personally touched by the need and lack of funding available to people that need it most. What a great reason to sacrifice a little comfort to help people in real need. Lastly what a great bunch of people to go on an adventure like this with. If you think I can complain on a Saturday morning… Well you haven’t heard nothing yet!
If you wish to support Paul’s fundraising efforts you can visit his sponsorship website at: http://www.everydayhero.com.au/paul_williams_7