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RED-i on (Kokoda) trek » Blog Archive » Dave’s Kokoda Experience

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Our Kokoda Blog

This is an account of the lead up and journey to Kokoda in PNG. This trek has been on our dreams list and I know that Tanya and I will make it to the end. Stay tuned and visit regularly to see our progress.

It is difficult to explain “Kokoda” to those that have not been there. I hope that those that have can make some sense out of the following.

 

When I set out for Kokoda, I knew that it was going to be physically demanding, and I knew that I needed to be mentally tough to get through the physical challenges. I was confident that I had done the training to achieve all of this. What I had not planned on was the emotional roller coaster of the trek.

 

To sit around as a group at Isurava and Brigade Hill where Diggers had fought and died was very emotional. To hear Kyle tell of their bravery and sacrifice, their determination and selflessness, were some of the saddest and proudest moments in my life. Sad for the Diggers who would never return to this beautiful Country of ours, proud to be able to call myself an Australian. 


Whilst the loss of young soldiers is tragic, I also related to the older Diggers in their 30’s and 40’s. These guys would have had wives and children, like myself. The thought of these kids growing up without a father really saddens me. I still get a lump in my throat just thinking about it. How strong were the families left behind? How did the kids get out of bed each morning knowing that their Dad was never coming home. I did struggle, and I am still struggling to process this incredible loss of life and the bravery required during the futility of war.

 

I believe Isurava and Brigade Hill help bind what was already a tight knit group into an even closer unit. No one cared where you were from, what car you drove, what job you did back in Australia; we were all mates, regardless. No task, whether trivial or large, was ever too much for someone to help you with. On a personal note, when I hurt my thigh, Eddie carried my sleeping bag and 2 litre water bottle, as well as gave me his walking pole to use – not because that was his job or I asked him to – he did it because he wanted to help a mate through a tough spot on the track. Robert S carried my ration pack for the same reason. When I finally got into camp, everyone was there to greet me. True mateship!

 

 

Rob and Dave at Isurava

Rob and Dave at Isurava

 

 

There are many other examples of similar instances that happened everyday. Graeme H and Kent come to mind. Both needed assistance, a helping hand or an encouraging word or two occasionally. Whoever was there to help did so, without a second thought. True mateship!

 

The word mate is used all the time, without any thought of its true meaning or inference. On the track, the true meaning and spirit of mateship was evident in abundance. One thing that I will always remember is the unconditional mateship shown by every single person of our group.

 

Courage, Endurance, Mateship, Sacrifice – four  simple words, but four words that evoke a deep emotional response every time I think of them and Kokoda. The Kokoda blues will pass, however the entire overall experience will never be forgotten – only possible because of the great people I was privileged enough to train with and to spend 9 days with on the track.

 

David Wainwright

Filed under: On the Track

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