Chris's Story

Kokoda – it means different things to different people.  To me it conjured up thoughts of my Digger grandfather and his mates, fighting a seemingly impossible battle, all in the name of Australia.

My brother-in-law, my best friend, his brother-in-law and his nephew and myself trained for 12 months leading up to the walk.  We rode, we ran, we walked with our packs up Castle Hill, Mount Stuart at Townsville and any track and trail we could find for ourselves – knowing all too well that nothing could prepare us for The Kokoda Track.

We left for Cairns at 5am.  When we arrived we headed straight to the hospital as my brother-in-law had a bout of gastro – not the greatest start to our adventure.  He decided to battle through it and see how he felt in Port Moresby. Knowing that the boys in 1942 had faced much worse, he decided to go ahead with the walk.

The walk itself was as tough as they say it is. I caught the bug my brother-in-law had during the night of our first day. I was sick the entire night and didn’t get a bit of sleep – talk about trying to duplicate conditions! When I the other guys woke in the morning, they all took some of my gear and packed it into their own packs and told me that we all go together. They stayed with me all that day, every step, mud, sludge, exposed tree roots, rivers, and mountains – lots of mountains. We climbed over well over 1400 meters that day. But the guys stuck with me and they got me through.
This is what Kokoda is about, mateship. Thanks boys.

We marched into Kokoda on the 23rd of April and I was too buggered – physically and mentally – for it to have a great impact on me, which was disappointing. We headed back to Port Moresby for the ANZAC service on the 25th. It was at the service that I realized how much I had accomplished, how much we had all accomplished in that 8-day walk.

The ANZAC service was incredible. I thought of my grandfather, his mates, all the soldiers who had ever fought. It’s incredible to think that walking over a few hills in a bit of mud can have such an impact.

It turns out the Kokoda Spirit is in each and every one of us.

APR 2011