My Grandfather fought in Papua New Guinea as a signalman mainly out of Port Moresby. He safely returned, but never told us any stories. As a school kid I would march in the parades with his medals, but could never appreciate the magnitude of why.
My story starts in 2006.
This is from the Dawn Service at Bomana.
In November 2005 I was with my mate at a pub and four schooners in he tells me he is booked to go and do the Kokoda Track for Anzac Day next year. There and then I made the call and booked and paid for my trip while still hungover the morning after.
I trained as hard as I could for those 6 months, I didn't drink any alcohol, trained at the gym and went for hikes with my fully laden back pack. I thought I was ready.
We arrived in Port Moresby on the 16th of April and flew into Kokoda airstrip the day before we took off on the walk.
The first day was hard, walking hours at a time with a belting stitch, barely being able to hold a conversation with the person next to you. My first thoughts were the humidity and how damn wet it was.
In the lead up to leaving Dad had said to me a few times, he would pay for a porter because carrying my bag would be too hard. I wasn't having a bar of that at all.
Day two, all I could hear was Dad's voice saying it would be too tough, this voice got me through what was my far and away toughest day. I set my tent up and crashed, no dinner, no post-day run down. I was genuinely stuffed, mentally and physically. I lay in the tent with a fever, uncontrollable shakes, the thirsts and a banging head-ache.
In saying that I had a great sleep and woke up really newly refreshed.
Day three was a long walk but saw us go through the Isurava Memorial.
The trek, if you can at all say got better, it seemed to really feel something more emotional and special. Each and every hour was painful, but it didn't feel painful anymore. It is impossible to explain how high up each mountain was and how far down each gully was. The downs were as tough on the legs than the ups.
The downs meant we were walking to a gully, often another river crossing
On our walk we went North to South, the way the Japanese came so we could finish at Ower's Corner, at this time Channel 7's Sunrise team were walking the other direction. It was day four we heard word we would pass them. Of the three of them, Kevin Rudd was in the front of their pack. He was more tahn happy to say G'Day to each and every one who he passed.
I think very keen for a spell I got photos with both Joe Hockey and David Koch.
Day 5, Day six was walking and lots of it.
Before the start of my walk I taped up my feet in all the possible hot spots, some invaluable advice I'd received. Mt feet were ridiculously sore after the 6th day, but with two more walking days to go I thought I would change the tape and put a new lot on .. found this
if you look carefully, you can see another crater forming under the original blister.
The day morning was special, we woke up in pain, aching, tired but excited.
As a group we stopped about 30 minutes shy of the end for a last break and feed before we made our way to the 'finish line'
The gates at Ower's Corner still have the most profound effect on me and for those who have met me might have seen my sticker on my arm, it is of the most special few bits of timber I have ever seen and felt
That night we had beers and rums and lots of them.
we went to bed about 3am with needing to get up at 4 to head on a truck to the Bomara War Cemetery, I honestly cannot remember much of what was said at the service, but tingles and feelings that are impossible to define.
This is my Anzac Day story