August 17, 2011  |  Member's Statement

Kokoda Trail: tribute

I rise to acknowledge the great sacrifice and achievements of the Australian servicemen who in 1942 fought for their country, for their families and for freedom on the Kokoda Track in Papua New Guinea. Over eight days last month I was humbled to walk in their footsteps from Owers Corner to Kokoda, to learn something of their courage and fortitude and to pay my respects and those of the people of the Ivanhoe electorate to those diggers who gave their lives for freedom and democracy.

The Australian war correspondent Osmar White said in his memoir Green Armour:

I was convinced for all time of the dignity and nobility of common men. I was convinced for all time that common men have a pure and shining courage when they fight for what they believe to be a just cause.

Their commanding officer, Major-General ‘Tubby’ Allen, addressing the Australian Imperial Force women’s club on 5 January 1945, said:

I can vividly remember our lads during the Owen Stanley Range campaign. They put forth then an effort which, if one had not actually seen it, one would have said was beyond human endurance …

I thank my 12 fellow trekkers, including our trek leader, Bernie Rowell, a passionate custodian of the history of the veterans’ achievement in Australia’s darkest hours. I thank our second-in-command on the trek, the member for Narracan, and I extend my humble thanks and gratitude to the 40-odd PNG carriers who trekked with us and the generous and welcoming villagers we met. Thanks to Charlie Lynn at Adventure Kokoda. Keep the memory alive; lest we forget.