RSL & Services Clubs

Kimberley Counter August 2008

My kokoda story began on the 14th of august 2008 and i didn’t realise that when i returned home my life would have been completely changed and discovered a new found appreciation for life and how i would live mine.

As i trekked through the dense kokoda jungle and Owen ranges it gave me time to reflect upon whom I am as a person and who i wanted to be and through the journey of kokoda i believe it truly shaped who I am today two years later. I also reflected upon the gratitude i had for the soldiers who trekked the same path I did, but in war conditions to allow me and Australia to live the way we do today.

Being only 17 at the time i had never been exposed to such terrain in my life and such a completely different world in comparison to mine i was completely taken away by the culture and atmosphere along the track. From the villages we passed to the carriers that assisted us through our hardest of times. The trek in itself for me was physically hard and emotional draining with spending up to 14 hrs a day trekking through dense jungle and mud, rain and shaky bridge crossings. Although the physical challenge i always kept in the back of my mind that injured brave men had to do this once and that i had it easy in comparison.

I major part that i will always keep with me was my friendship built with one of the carriers, who also kept an eye on me and guided me through the toughest times with me, through those hours spent I learnt about his culture, family, traditions, and way of life and was just as interested to hear mine as well. Also another strong aspect i will keep with me is when we donated pens and paper pads and a soccer ball to one of the village schools and the teacher was so grateful she was in tears of gratitude and thanks, it was so little to us but the pens and paper was such a big thing for them because they don’t have much.

The way kokoda affected my life i can be proud to say influenced many decisions I have made since. I have decided to do a Bachelor in Nursing with the hope to one day work in a 3rd world country as a nurse. I have also given back to the PNG community as I was a major part of fundraising money for a Marist Mission in PNG through my school where we raised money and books and stationary and sent them over to a school in PNG. I have also now planned to do volunteer work in South Africa in schools and orphanages. I also visited a retired war veteran’s village and spoke briefly with ex-navy men from the war. The way I saw life after I came home was immense I had a new found confidence in myself and that there are small things people can do to that can help other people in a greater way and that it has shaped the person i would like to become and has triggered a new direction in my life.