Mildura Weekly : Friday October 17 2014 Vol 8 No 50
16 NEWS MILDURA WEEKLY FRIDAY, OCTOBER 17, 2014 Day 1: We start with an early-morning visit to the Bomana Cemetery where more than 3000 Australian soldiers, including hundreds unknown, lay at peace from the fight that saved PNG – and Australia – from Japa- nese invasion. As we continue on, our track leader Brian Healy tells about three skeletons found buried at a place called Camp 1900. Because the skeletons were wearing Australian Army boots, they were as- sumed to be Australian. But on closer inspection, they were identified as Japanese soldiers who had stolen the shoes off our deceased sol- diers. Authorities notified the Japanese Govern- ment, but they didn’t want to know about it, and after many years, the Australian Government ar- ranged for the remains to be repatriated. It was said that Japanese soldiers who fought and died in the war were dishonoured by their families, who saw it as ‘failure’ to do their duty. There are stories of Japanese soldiers committing suicide on the track, using their own weapons, which they believed were blessed by the Emperor, who had told them to fight to the death. The Kokoda Track is hard going. It rained so much that the river we had to cross be- came a raging torrent, much higher than usual, and our porters had to stretch a rope from one side to the other for us to hold on to while being individually escorted across. It was so much fun, and a rare experience. We have a few people trekking Ko- koda for the second, third or fourth time (Ken Innes was leading his eighth MASP group), and none of them have had to cross the river this way before. It set the pattern for the rest of the day - wet, muddy and slippery - and there were many falls – including mine, on the muddiest stretch of the track! One of the mentors, Mal, had the worst fall, hitting his head, proving just how dan- gerous things can get. It was a relief to finally get into camp, and with tents al- ready erected by the porters, we had time to bathe in the creek, washing our clothes at the same time. We will be wearing these same clothes for a few more days. Nothing dries here! AsIwritethisIsitinawettent with a slight leak, on my wet sleeping mat, with wet hair and feet. It’s impossible to get dry, even with a towel. And the humidity here is around 95 percent. I haven’t been to the ‘long drops’ (toilets) yet. I think I would rather go behind a tree, but it is already dark and most of the group are in their tents, settling down for the night. I am missing my loved ones already. There are a few couples on the trek this year, which makes me miss my family, although I don’t doubt that my fellow trekkers are missing their friends and family also. I wish I could text my mum about things as they happen. Particularly Bomana, where I found Private Thomas Harold Smith’s grave. Unfor- tunately with all the excite- ment and jitters we were un- prepared. With our backpacks being looked after by porters in a different area, I didn’t have the poppies I promised my cousin’s grandfather I would lay for his uncle. Pic- tures will have to suffice. Today was a tough start to the trek, and I can’t help thinking I would rather be home. I know it gets even tougher from tomorrow on, and I just want to cuddle up in bed with one of my loved ones. To top it off, the forecast is for another wet day. Day 2: Boy, does it get harder or what! My feet and shoulders aren’t accus- tomed to the harsh walking and heavy backpack, but some quality time with the mentees and mentors is helping take my mind off things. And having a dry tent and belongings definitely helps! I used the toilets for the first time this morning. I hold baby wipes to my nose to block the smell. It’s fair to say this isn’t the best part of the trek. We had a ‘shower’ at camp today, sort of. Another group is camping in the same vil- lage, using the outdoor show- er on their end, and the water supply at our end dried up. Opting not to wait until later (plus the fact that I am half asleep after dinner), a tap and baby wipes is my ‘shower’ for the night. I am also using my supply of wipes as toilet paper, and on Day Two I am wondering nervously if they will last me the whole trip. I decide to use them sparingly. We crossed a flowing creek on numerous occasions today...about 20 times in fact...and loved it. Then came a bit of uphill trekking before lunch, followed by a swim...a real blast! Relaxing, laughing and playing around gave us extra energy and motivation for what was to come! It was an uphill battle, lit- erally. Many struggled more Excited, but with nervous apprehension...that best sums up the feelings of Mildura Weekly being given the opportunity to walk the Kokoda Track as part of the 2014 MASP Kokoda this month. Tianna, 24, admitted she had little idea of what to expect, was well out of her terribly – but wouldn’t have swapped the experience for anything in the world. Kokoda an uphill, emotional sumed to be Australian. But on closer inspection, they were identified as Japanese It was said that Japanese soldiers who fought and died in the war were dishonoured Dand shoulders aren’t accus- tomed to the harsh walking and heavy backpack, but some quality time with the first time this morning. I hold baby wipes to my nose to block the smell. It’s fair to say this isn’t the best part of the trek. Want a rewarding career in child care? Family Day Care may be the career for you. Family Day Care Educators look after children – from babies, to pre-teens – from their own homes. They enjoy the flexibility of self-employment and have access to regular training, support and professional development through a local Coordination Unit. Contact the local Family Day Care Coordination Unit at Mildura Rural City Council to find out more. Phone (03) 5018 8271 firstname.lastname@example.org www.familydaycare.com.au • Tianna and young MASP mentee Shenae Peterson, 16, share a special moment after conquering the Kokoda Track’s infamous ‘Wall’ climb on Day Three.
Friday October 10 2014 Vol 8 No 49
Friday October 24 2014 Vol 8 No 51