Bernard's Story

As part of our training for Kokoda, myself and the others in our group joined a local bush walking club as well as organising a two day overnight hike from Jenolan Caves to Katoomba. This was a great asset so as to do a shake down camp to test out our endurance and equipment.
I also joined a local gym and was able to modify my training. I was also walking my local course of 9.2 km which had a reasonable elevation on which I was able to increase my backpack load to build up my endurance. I must admit I did have a setback from my training as I managed to damage my achilles due to the increase work load. After many consultations with my physio and dry needle therapy, I was able to work out the correct method of exercise and ankle bracing I was able to move onwards with the minimum amount of discomfort.
Finally arriving at Port Moresby and setting out from Owers’ Corner. We found the cemetery at Bomana very moving as one of us was able to place a tribute to the grave of her husband’s uncle. Myself and another each had a photo of a soldier (The lucky ones that returned) we were asked to carry for the duration of the trek.
This made for interesting conversation with other trekkers we met along the way. We were most fortunate to have the co-operation of Kokoda Trail Expeditions (who sponsored us with an additional porter to carry the supplies we managed to seek from a local firm) for distribution to eight schools along our route.
I have the greatest admiration for the group of porters and were lucky enough to be able to work and play with them. To see a porter load up his pack with about 23kg, and with one hand assist his trekker, and whilst in the other hold a plastic shopping bag with 2 dozen eggs and not break one egg.
Sure the hike was tough in places, but the views and the entering of another village was both a delight and breathtaking. There is not one highlight but many that will remain with me for a long time. The night the boys sang an impromptu recital, their harmony and tone had us in tears. The night we were able to meet the leader’s family, who travelled to Kagi, when me made our special presentation, then the village sang for us a most moving song “The Kokoda Track is a hard Track.” Not sure if this is the correct name.
There were some sombre moments like the Bomana War Cemetery and the crash site of a Boston aircraft or the markers of Australian soldiers at Brigade Hill.

AUG 2016