Hiking Kokoda by Lisa Huitson
For a number of years, police officers from NSW and NT have undertaken the annual hike across the infamous Kokoda Track in the Owen Stanley Ranges of Papua New Guinea. Each year, several NSW Police Legatees have accompanied them.
This year the invitation was extended to NT Police Legatees. I am extremely grateful to both the NT Police Legacy for their support and assistance and for the opportunity to participate in this challenging, yet rewarding journey and the NSW Police Legacy for the invitation.
Our adventure took place in April this year, the 100th anniversary of the landing at Gallipoli. (A year, which made the whole experience all the more special.) On completion of the trek, we attended the ANZAC day dawn service at Bomana cemetery a truly moving and emotional experience, where I had the honour of laying a wreath on behalf of NT Police Legacy.
The 96km trek was physically tough, mentally challenging and emotionally draining. Aidan Grimes, our trek leader, with his incredible knowledge and passion for our history, was able to bring the stories of the various battles alive for us. We learnt of the relationships forged between Australians and the local Papua New Guineans, the Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels. Of the mateship, courage, endurance and sacrifice (the value pillars of the Kokoda Campaign).
There were many emotional times when Aidan likened the work of our Police Officers, to that of continuing what those brave soldiers set out to do, in keeping our communities safe. Very often facing similar hardship and sacrifice. There were often times along the track I felt the presence of Glen (my late husband) with me on this journey and I certainly experienced, first hand, the camaraderie that he so often spoke of, while working as a Police Officer in the Northern Territory.
Kokoda truly is an extraordinary experience with its breathtaking views; mountaintop campsites shrouded in mist; rainforest jungles with numerous creek crossings, happy, carefree children from local villages and of course new friendships forged along the way. It is an empowering journey and one I hope my children will participate in, in the near future.