Adventure Kokoda Treks the spirit lives
Issue 011 : July 2008
Adventure Kokoda Niusleta
Adventure Kookoda Treks
In this issue...
2008 Kokoda Reunion Dinner Miss World Australia Treks Kokoda
Our Kokoda Blog - Have You Say! Australia-PNG Joint Understanding on Kokoda
Ooops - Joint Understanding Gets Name Wrong! Should the Fuzzy-Wuzzies get a medal?
Battle for Australia Day - Obviously a Committee Decision! Bone Man of Kokoda
Tom O'Farrell treks Kokoda with his Dad The Kokoda Trust
Kokoda 'Bring-a-Book' Campaign 39th Battalion Association - Join Now!
Suggestions for dealing with the burdens of life
2008 Kokoda Reunion Dinner
It’s on again.  Friday, 7 November 2008 – Parliament House, Macquarie Street, Sydney.

Put the event in your diary - we will get the information out to you in early August.

Any monies raised at the dinner will be directed towards the Kokoda Trust - see story below.
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Miss World Australia Treks Kokoda
2007 Miss World Australia, Caroline Pemberton, joined our Anzac trek across Kokoda - certainly a different catwalk to the Caroline Pemberton at Isurava Anzac 2008 one she had been used to for the previous 12 months. Caroline is a model and second year Bachelor of Psychology student at the University of New England.

Caroline loves the outdoors and is a keen para-glider and canyoner. She journeyed to Everest Base Camp to support her brother Rex who became the youngest Australian to conquer the world's highest mountain.

Caroline celebrated her 24th birthday at Abuari village and received a sing-sing she will never forget from our guides, carriers and the villagers.

Caroline has agreed to join the Kokoda Trust to assist with honouring the legacy of our veterans and the wartime Carriers.

You can check Caroline's website at
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Our Kokoda Blog
Have your say on our Kokoda Blog at

Some of our topics for discussion are:

. The Kokoda Trust
. Military Heritage at Risk on Kokoda
. Kokoda Villagers Need Charity Too!
. Fuzzy-Wuzzy Angels deserve a medal
. Kokoda: 'Track or Trail'
. Kokoda Day: 3rd November
. Battle for Australia Day - Obviously a Committee Decision!

Please feel free to give us your feedback on any of the issues in our blog. We can only hope to protect the legacy of Kokoda if we have a range of views on the various issues confronting us over the proper management of the track and its inclusion in our educational curriculum.
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Australia-PNG Joint Understanding on Kokoda
A Joint Understanding was developed in the spirit of Port Moresby Declaration of 6 March 2008 in regard to the Kokoda Trail and Owen Stanley Ranges.  The document was signed in Madang on 23 April 2008 by the PNG Minister for Environment and Conservation, The Hon Benny Allen MP and the Australian Minister for Environment, Heritage and the Arts, The Hon Peter Garrett AM MP.

According to the preamble in the document the Joint Understanding covers both the sustainable development of communities along the Kokoda Track corridor, and protection and sustainable use of the natural and cultural resources of the broader Owen Stanley Ranges.

The joint understanding was triggered by a public outrage over a proposal to mine part of the Kokoda Trail last year.  The Howard Government established a interdepartmental committee to address the problem and committed $15 million to assist the PNG Government to achieve world heritage listing for the area.

Unfortunately our relationship with PNG was strained due to our disinterest in the country over a long period of time.  Our security boofheads at Brisbane airport embarrassed Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare; we continued to refuse PNG citizens access to seasonal work on our farms; used heavy handed diplomacy in the ‘Moti affair’; and continued to act as ‘big brother’ in the region.

A change of government and the appointment of a Parliamentary Secretary for the Pacific by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd signalled an immediate re-engagement with PNG.  The Hon Duncan Kerr MP was eminently qualified for the appointment as he was a former Dean of Law at the University of PNG and former Attorney-General and Shadow Minister for Immigration.  High powered delegations to PNG have included Prime Minister Rudd and Ministers from Foreign Affairs, Trade and Environment.

The Prime Minister then appointed Sandy Hollway as his special envoy to address the mining issue and the proposed World Heritage nomination.  Implementation of the Joint Understanding will be overseen by the PNG Deputy Prime Minister in coordination with the PNG Minister for Environment and Conservation and the Australian Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts.  They will be supported by whole of Government Taskforces in Australian and PNG and a review of the program will be conducted annually.

Prime Minister Rudd is to be congratulated on his leadership in regard to this issue.  Having trekked Kokoda himself two years ago he would have formed a strong view on the debt we owe to the diggers who fought in the Kokoda campaign and a strong commitment to their legacy.  The First Secretary of the Heritage Division in the Department of Environment, James Shelvin, is guiding the implementation of the agreement.  This sort of action is long overdue and James and his staff are keen to consult and include all parties in the process.

The final outcomes will be as good as the feedback and the level of cooperation displayed by all stakeholders, Australian and PNG, in the process.

We will keep you abreast of the issues and seek your feedback via our Kokoda Blog.
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Ooops - Joint Understanding Gets Name Wrong!
One of the first issues we should address in our official engagements with PNG is the use of correct terminology.  The Joint Understanding makes continued reference to the Kokoda Track.  Whilst we are free to debate whether it should or should not be track or trail the official title, according to the PNG Government Gazette of 12 October 1972, is Kokoda Trail.

Until somebody can identify a later reference that amends that reference we should refer to the track by its correct title.

We should also note that the battle honour ‘Kokoda Trail’ was awarded to the 39th Infantry Battalion and is proudly displayed on their banner.

The most definitive research on the history of the track across the Owen Stanley Ranges was conducted by Stuart Hawthorne.  The title of his book on the subject is ‘Kokoda Trail’.

Recent research by the custodians of our military history, the Australian War Memorial, concluded that the official term was ‘Kokoda Trail’.  They acknowledged that ‘Kokoda Track’ was also used to describe the track.

I appreciate that some new-age historians have a different view and seem to regard the term ‘trail’ as an American term - which it is - but until they are able to convince the PNG Government of the need to change the title we should respect their sovereignty and refer to it by its correct name.

Have your say on our blog at
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Battle for Australia Day - Obviously a Committee Decision!
Only a committee could seek to proclaim a day of commemoration for a battle that never happened.  But that’s what happened with the recent announcement that the first Wednesday in September with be proclaimed as ‘Battle for Australia Day’ – three weeks after the anniversary of Victory in the Pacific Day on August 15.

Our wartime Prime Minister, John Curtin, saw a battle for Australia looming after the rapid expansion of Japan in the Pacific in 1942.  It was clear that Japan intended to establish a co-prosperity sphere in the Asia-Pacific region to secure raw materials for her burgeoning industry.

Australia’s fear of an imminent invasion were well justified at the time.  Heavy bombing raids on Darwin, Broome and Townsville, midget submarines in Sydney Harbour, epic naval battles in the Coral Sea and Midway and the fall of Rabaul were facts the Australian people had to deal with at the time.

The ‘battle for Australia’ actually comprised a series of land, sea and air actions conducted by commandos’, coastwatchers, soldiers, sailors, airmen and New Guinea Carriers.  The battles culminated with the surrender of Japan on August 15, 1945.

Australia commemorates the end of WW1 with a Remembrance Day on November 11 and the end of WW2 with VP Day on 15 August.

The resonance of these two days is decreasing as the years go by.  This is probably because they commemorate a historic occasion rather than a military action.

Conversely our national interest in the landing of our Anzacs on the Gallipoli peninsula continues to grow.  This is because it commemorates a military action that symbolises the spirit of our diggers in WW1.

The Battle for Australia Committee obviously had the choice of a number of actions to commemorate our service in the Pacific War.  These include the naval battles of the Coral Sea and Midway, the Australian-US battle at Milne Bay, the battles of Kokoda, Isurava, Brigade Hill, Templeton’s Crossing, Buna, Gona, Shaggy Ridge, etc.  Debate over which action or battle was more significant would often depend on which service or unit one belonged to.

Arguably the most symbolic action of Australia’s involvement in the Pacific War was the raising of the Australian flag on the Kokoda plateau on November 3, 1942.

Have your say on our blog at:
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Bone Man of Kokoda
Kokichi Nishimura was a member of the 2nd battalion, 144th Regiment of the Kokichi Nishimura and Charlie Lynn at Popondetta 1996Japanese Imperial Army. In 1942 he fought along every foot of the Kokoda Trail being the only man from his company to survive the campaign. As he was evacuated he swore that one day he would return and bring his comrades home to Japan for proper burial.

After the war, Nishimura married, had three children, started an engineering business and prospered. But under the surface, the driving ambition of his life was not to live peacefully and well, but to go back to New Guinea to fulfill his promise. In 1979, when he reached retirement age, he shocked his family by giving his business to his sons, his house and all his assets to his wife, and returning to New Guinea to search for the remains of Japanese soldiers.

For the next 25 years Nishimura lived alone in huts and tents along the Kokoda Trail, searching for the bones of his comrades with a metal detector, a mattock, a shove and an indomitable will. In over a quarter of a century, he was to find hundreds of them , yet he also came to forge a new comradeship and a new purpose in helping the poverty stricken Papuans he worked amongst. The Bone Man of Kokoda by Charlies Happell (published by Macmillan) is Nishimura's incredible story - both an epic adventure and vivid insights into the horror and futility or war.

I had the pleasure of meeting Kokichi Nishimura at Popondetta in 1997. We had to communicate via his interpretor from English to Pidgin to Japanese and back again. It was a struggle but I remember he was incredibly fit and had a warm and engaging personality. After reading Charles Happels wonderful book I now realise that I was in the presence of a remarkable man.

I strongly recommend the book for anybody interested in the Kokoda campaign from a Japanese perspective.
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Tom O'Farrell treks Kokoda - with his Dad
Barry O’Farrell is a busy man as Leader of the Opposition in New South Wales. 
Tom and Barry O'Farrell at Isurava
Those who know much about politics will appreciate that it is regarded as the toughest job in the profession.  It’s tough on the family as well as they are invariably last in the queue due to the commitments a leader has in addressing an endless range of issues around the State.

Barry decided some years ago to trek Kokoda. He has a strong link with the army as his father was a Warrant Officer and is a keen student of our military history. His first task to was to get himself fit enough for the challenge by shedding about around 50 kilos from his massive frame. He did this by committing to a daily exercise schedule and making some changes to his diet over a long period.

He invited his 13year old son, Tom, to join him on the trek. This turned out to be a special occassion for Tom who celebrated his 14th birthday at Templeton's Crossing. The support crew of Koiari guides and carriers joined together to sing 'Hepi Birthday' in a rendition he will never forget. One of the guides, a woodcarver from the Sepik, presented Tom with a carved trekking pole - a wonderful gesture.

Our political leaders are the agents of change in our system. We hopw that Kevin Rudd, Barry O'Farrell and others who undertake the challenge will one day ensure that our military history becaomes an integral part of our education system.
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Should the Fuzzy-Wuzzies get a medal?
One of the most shameful omissions of successive Australian governments since the end of the Pacific War has been their neglect to issue a civilian service medal to theOvoru Indiki Fuzzy Wuzzy Angel of Naduri New Guinea Carriers who were indentured to support Australian troops during our darkest hour in 1942.  It is a fact that our troops would have been defeated in the Kokoda campaign without the support of these Carriers.

The issue has never been resolved in Australia because of the risk of admitting some form of liability for further compensation.

This is a cop-out because the issue of compensation has been resolved between the two governments and any further claims will be managed and resolved by the PNG Government.

Click here to read our submission and add your comments: A Proposal for a Civilian Service Medal to be issued to PNG WW11 Carriers
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Kokoda 'Bring-A-Book' Campaign
Last year we established a ‘bring-a-book’ campaign for the library of the Port Moresby Grammar School.  This wonderful school is known as the ‘school of opportunity’ or thePNG Student at Port Moresby Grammar School ‘school of second-chance’ because of its commitment to assisting PNG students who are bright and have a strong desire to learn but do not have the means to pay for their fees.  The school has grown rapidly from humble beginnings and now has 1300 students from primary through to high school.

We have established a Kokoda Bursary Program which enables trekkers who would like to provide assistance by sponsoring students for a year.  Each bursary is named after the sponsoring trekker.

If you would like more information please email me at

We have instituted a ‘bring-a-book’ initiative for our trekkers.  Port Moresby Grammar has provided us with a list of books required for their library and to date our trekkers have donated over 500 books.  A big thank you to those who have participated in the program.
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The Kokoda Trust
The Kokoda Trust is being formed to honour the legacy of the Australian and PNG soldiers, sailors, airmen, coastwatchers and carriers who served in PNG during the war in the Pacific 1942-1945.  This will be achieved through the implementation of a number of programs designed to strengthen the relationship between Australia and PNG and provide on-going benefits in the fields of health, education and leadership.

A provisional Board has met to consider the specific objectives of the trust, as well as its constitution and structure. The Trust is to be established as a Charitable Trust, raising funds through donations from individuals, companies and groups to meet its objectives.  In focussing on pragmatic ways to provide a better future for the people of PNG, the Trust will partner with public and private sector organisations and community groups in Australia and PNG as appropriate.

Specific programs under consideration include the awarding of high school and graduate scholarships for PNG students, establishment of sister-school and sister-hospital relationships and the development of a memorial plan for the Kokoda Trail.

The Trust envisages a National Body with Chapters in each State with the opportunity for trekkers to organise their own clans in their own districts.

Please have your say or pass on any suggestions on our blog at
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39th Battalion Association - Join Now!
You can keep in contact with the veterans of the 39th Battalion by joining their association.  There is a $1.00 joining fee and an annual subscription of $15.  For this you will receive ‘The Good Guts’ – a regular newsletter keeping you up to date with the activities of the association.

The motto of the 39th is simply ‘Deeds not Words’ .

You download a Membership Application from the Battalion website at
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Some Suggestions for Dealing with the Burdens of Life
Accept that some day’s you’re the pigeon and some days you’re the statue.

Always keep your words soft and sweet – just in case you have to eat them.

Always read stuff that will make you look good if you die in the middle of it.

Drive carefully.  It’s not only cars that get recalled by their maker.

If you can’t be kind, at least have the decency to be vague.

If you lend somebody $20 and never see that person again – it was probably worth it.

It may be your sole purpose in life in simply to serve as a warning to others.

Never buy a car you can’t push.

Never put both feet in your mouth at the same time, because then you won’t have a leg to stand on.

Nobody cares if you can’t dance well.  Just get up and dance.

Since it’s the early worm that gets eaten – sleep in.

The second mouse gets the cheese.

When everything’s coming your way, you’re in the wrong lane.

Birthdays are good for you – the more you have the longer you live.

You may be the only person in the world, but you might also be the world to one person.

Some mistakes are too much fun to make only once.

We could learn a lot from crayons.  Some are sharp, some are pretty and some are dull.  Some have weird names and are different colours, but they all have to live in the same box.

Lukim yu next time niusleta,

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