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Wednesday 13/7/2011 - Trek Day 8

Weather: Sunny Place: Alola to Kokoda - 9.5 hours

sunny 35 °C

Woke 5.20am. Half packed tent. Stood by the fire and had breakfast, same as yesterday. Sat by the fire and talked to two little kids whist Dad and some of 'the boys' put down the rest of the tent. Did stretches and then had a little briefing. Started walking, steep down and then uphill. Could see Alola very well. After a while got to Butch's Tree. John told the story of Stan and Butch Bisset. Very sad almost made me cry. Took off our packs and walked up to the tree where Butch died. Butch was Stan's older brother and was mortally wounded at Battle of Isurava. Stan carried him here and sat with him most of the night reminiscing of home until Butch passed away.

Kept walking and came to Surgeons Rock (Con's Rock). Crossed many creeks. Saw the site on the other side of the valley where the passenger plane from Kokoda crashed 2 years ago. Finally came to Isurava battle site (1318m) where we stayed for about an hour. Dad spent some time working out where all the Aussie units would have been. I found a dead mouse. Saw the 4 black pillars. On the pillars were the words of Kokoda; COURAGE, ENDURANCE, MATESHIP, SACRIFICE. Beautiful but sad place. Great view down to Yodda Valley from memorial. Read some plaques about the war and saw Kingsbury's Rock, where Bruce Kingbury won the VC and fell to a snipers bullet. We had a little service and Bernadette (her great Uncle was in the 2/16th Battalion and died on the last day of Battle for Gona Mission), Dean (his grandfather was in the 39th Battalion and survived the war), Reedy and I read some poems. Some people started crying when Reedy read The Last Anzac. I had to try hard to keep myself from crying too. We sung our national anthem and then 'the boys' sang theirs.

Left and kept walking. After 30 minutes came to present day Isurava Village (1375m). Nice and peaceful village. Stopped for usual morning tea. Talked to some village kids. Kept walking. Walked through many native gardens full of Choko vines. Finally after about 2 hours came to Deniki village (900m). Boiling hot!! Nearly abandoned but pretty. Stopped for lunch. Took off boots. Lunch was; baked beans, Spam, cheese, crackers, 2-minute noodles. YUM!! Played in mud and dirt while John talked about the war. Dad went back up the track to fill water bladders and get wet. 'The boys' made us all headdresses out of flowers, vines, leaves and grass. We all had different ones. Mine was very pretty and made by 'Quiet' John the trek leader. Also 'the boys' stuck branches and ferns in our packs so we looked like walking trees! Walked downhill.

Finally came to Hoi Village (550m). Rested for a couple of minutes before continuing to walk through rubber and palm plantations. Bardi carried the PNG flag at the front while 'Quiet' John carried the Australian flag at the back. Later on they both walked at the front. We were then walking in single file into Kokoda, trekker then porter. I was at the front and it was very moving walking 'in the footsteps of heroes'. After about 1 hour walking in the boiling sun finally saw the arch way for Kokoda; the END!!!! Crossed under the arch, a great feeling to have finished. Kept walking about another 500m then both Bardi and 'Quiet' John made an arch using the two flags. Crossed under that. Finally FINISHED!!!! There was a lot of cheering, congratulating and hand shakes. Rested a few minutes and then raced Dad across the Oval to the memorial. I won which meant I was the 'Queen of Kokoda'!! Looked at the memorial. Very sad! Walked up the road a short way to the huts were going to stay over night in. Dad, Andrew and I stayed in a dorm-style hut to test out our mozzie nets for the first time. Rested all afternoon. Everyone glad to have finished. Had a shower whilst guys went to get some beer and soft drinks. Talked till it got dark.

Bernadette and I went to the shop. I bought 2 packets of tiny teddies and a Sprite. Shop was very different, had bars all around it. Had dinner; rice, fresh corn, roasted taro, fried plantain, steamed choko leaves and chicken drumsticks. YUMMY!!! Talked more and Tim tried Beetle Nut. Very funny watching his face.

Dad's Comments
"The death of Harold Bisset deeply sadened the Battalion. He was a popular officer. Carried to safety by four volunteers - fighting off the enemy as they went - Bisset sustained severe abdominal wounds. He died at 4.00am on the 30th in his brother's arms. 'I held him in my arms for four hours,' Stan Bisset. 'We just talked about our parents, and growing up, and... good things'." Paul Ham "Kokoda"

Posted by avoca 17:00 Archived in Papua New Guinea

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