Day 9 – Deniki to Kokoda Village

March 6, 2009 by  
Filed under Forbes to Kokoda & Back

The last day was very normal. Up breakfast, pack kit ready to go. Mansoon was upfront ready to go.
Wok and Roll and our last days walk began only 3 hours to the end.
Just a short walk down the hills. We went through a couple of villages, one had a cassowary penned up, so we all went over and had a look. Then we came out into open country and a road appeared, rough track but a road.

We formed up in two lines side by side, with the porters behind us .We found out later they always do this so we can lead them in , Tractor was up front leading us in. The porters cranked up the guitars and sang nearly all the way into the village. For me it felt just great, with them singing all our blokes were fit and healthy the hair on the back of the neck were standing up, what a finish.

Before we knew it Phillip called us to a halt and we were finished at Phillips guest house. So we moved on into the courtyard and took of the packs and time to party. Phillip owned this guest house and ran it with his mother and his wife and family. He had solo panels to run all his electricity, which is rare in the villages. Phillip ran a good show. An esky was set up in the centre and Simmy became the barman. We all had a beer and the porters too and toasted the trip. Over several beers we had a chance to get lots of photos shake each others hands pats on the back for each other and the porters. I gave a lot of my gear away to my porter
Tassie, as did everyone else. That made him smile, as Tassie had been walking the whole track with an eye infection that closed his eye towards the end of the walk. No complaints from him though, tough little bastard.

We got to meet the legend him self Johnny Hunt-Hiviki the record holder of the fastest track crossing ever he did it in 22 hours 1 minute in the Kokoda track race. He is a partner and best mate of Phillip, was getting ready to take the next group over the track. (An update as of the 28/8/07 his record was broken. Brendan Buka set a new time of 17 hours 20 minutes for the Kokoda to Owens Corner crossing. He also holds the Owens to Kokoda time of 17 hours and 49 minutes.)

Tractor recited a poem that was written of the diggers of the track. Tractor did his usual top job but only just made it before his emotions nearly got to him. Very moving and I’m sure all the team felt there emotions at the end of that poem.


Tractor Rennick, reciting the poem.

Tractor Rennick, reciting the poem.


Fuzzy Wuzzy Angles (of the Kokoda Track)
By Bert Beros of the 3rd Battalion.

Many a mother in Australia, when the busy day is done,
Sends a prayer to the almighty, for the keeping of her son;
Asking that an angel guide him, and to bring him safely back.
Now we see those prayers answered on the Owen Stanley Track.
Though they haven’t haloes, only holes slashed through the ear,
And their faces marked with tattoos, and with scratch pins in their hair,
Bringing back the badly wounded, just as steady as a hearse,
Using leaves to keep the rain off, and as gentle as a nurse;
Slow and careful in bad places, on the awful mountain track,
And the look upon there faces, makes us think that Christ was black.
Not a move to hurt the carried, as they treat him like a saint,
It’s a picture worth recording, that an artist’s yet to paint.
Many a lad will see there mother, and the husbands wee’uns and wives,
Just because the Fuzzy Wuzzies, carried them to save their lives,
From mortar or machine-gun fire, or chance surprise attack,
To safety and the care of doctors, at the bottom of the track.
May the mothers in Australia, when they offer up a prayer,
Mention these impromptu angles, with fuzzy wuzzy hair.


We got our group photo and then went into the dining area for lunch. The presentations by Max and Phillip of our Certificates and shirts were made and we all got to say a few words at this time. Timed passed so fast and it was time to load up and head off. One last hand shakes with all the porters which took a while and then we loaded up on the truck and headed off.

On the way to Popondetta we had to go past Oivi Village. This was the village that Viv’s fathers in laws two brothers were killed. So we stopped the truck and Viv and I and a few others went back to the village as Viv had a job to do. He had carried the two photos of the men in his pocket all the way. Had a photo taken holding the photos in front of the village and left the photos with the villagers to take care of them and they will. I got a photo of the sign of Oivi Village as Uncle Trevor fought there as well.

On to Popondetta.


Popondetta to Port Moresby.

It was a two and half hour or so trip down to Popondetta on a rough road most of the way. We set up in the motel and had a hot shower for the first time in a week. Then we gathered at the bar.

We had a big long table for our group for dinner in the restaurant and it was a great night. Viv as usual had kept notes and gave each of us an award where could respond and say what the trip was like and what it meant to each of us. I can’t remember most of the awards, but mind was the corruption award for introducing the Dragons gear to all the villagers. I’m sure they are better off for having it.

The next morning we went around to the memorial the Governments had built. Protected by a barbed wire fence it explained of all the fighting on the beaches where we were about to go to. It showed us the date the Japs landed on New Guinea beaches 21/7/1942. Exactly 65 years to the day when we started at Owens Corner. No one picked that up till we read that then.

A long truck ride, on a rough track, down to the beach at Buna. When we arrived I thought, Nothing has changed there is still nothing there. Just a black sand beach a few huts and a swamp the Japs fought for. The locals showed us around the area and took us to meet Solomon. Solomon is 98 this year and lived there all his life. When the Japs came they shot through into the hills and came back to help the diggers when they were pushing the Japs back up the track to the beach. He is an original Fuzzy Wuzzy Angel. Solomon junior a great grandson showed how they climb coconut trees about 50 ft up and got us about 20 coconuts down. Mad I say mad. Fresh coconut milk and coconut not bad.

Back on the truck all the way to Popondetta air port. We had to wait a while for the plane and they had a market going outside the front gate. You would love the fresh prawns and fish, just sitting in the shade the flies being waved away. The locals didn’t mind. One truck came by and pulled up, must have been 45 people got of it; we were loaded up with 16.

Anyway loaded on the plane and back to Port Moresby. That was about it.

It was a trip of a life time. The mates, porters, track, experience brilliant. You just don’t know how far your body will go till you try. It was tough but I knew it was easy compared to how the diggers did it. Anyway I had a good time, whether this explains it to anyone else I don’t know. If anyone does it they have to want to do it. Don’t be taken there with a half thought you will suffer too much. Nothing can prepare you for it. I’m sure there is just no other track like it.

Back (L to R) Andrew Drane, Josh Baker, Steve Cook, Ian Bown, Scotty Reid, John Milton, David Hoggets, Zac Rennick. Front (L to R) Ralph Baker, Norm Cook, John (Tractor) Rennick, Michael (Harry) Walker, Peter Hollstein, Viv Russell.

Back (L to R) Andrew Drane, Josh Baker, Steve Cook, Ian Bown, Scotty Reid, John Milton, David Hoggets, Zac Rennick. Front (L to R) Ralph Baker, Norm Cook, John (Tractor) Rennick, Michael (Harry) Walker, Peter Hollstein, Viv Russell.

Story written by Ian Bown of Forbes

For more pictures visit the Kokoda Gallery


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