(Kokoda) Track Brothers

Chris Herlihy, Back Track Trek Leader,  2012

It is a steep and winding mountain track in the Owen Stanley ranges,

A quiet and gentle place, until World War Two brought changes.

In the fiercest jungle fighting our Aussie boys had ever seen,

Once fit and healthy men, were soon sick and tired and lean.

Both in falling back and fighting, “there is just too many of them”,

A bullet has your name on it, but will it come, and when.

And are those who rule and fight a war from many miles away,

Aware of a ditty bandied around that I’ve heard the Diggers say,

“There are no atheists’ in fox holes” I think that’s how it goes.

And for politics and Imperialists the pessimism grows.

But to who is right and who is wrong I’ll leave to greater minds,

Fighting for your mate beside you is why your life is on the line.

After months of to and fro, and good men on both sides gone.

Thought’s turn again to life at home, and is ‘peace’ here for long.

“I fought so you don’t have to” my old grandad would say,

So to lead a group of trekkers is giving back, in some small way.

“The walk today is easy” some say, you have tents and guides and porters,

Try months on end with nothing, but bullets, blades and mortar’s.

But a different mood is here today, with all the hard yards done,

Many years have come and gone, strong feeling’s still for some.

And 70 years is long enough I think, for a new respect to grow,

To all those who have fallen, be they Black or White or Yellow.

Trekker’s in their thousands have put their bodies on the line,

And find 96 k’s can be a bloody long way, at 12 steps at a time.

Though the reason’s they attempt the track are many, wide and varied,

The central theme remains the same, the thoughts for those long buried.

Evulsions of emotions, it’s a life changing trek for most,

A new respect on hearing… a hauntingly played “last post”

Kokoda asks so very much of you, those painful hills go on forever,

Just when you’re sure, you can take no more, your king hit by the weather.

But those now gone would be proud I think, to see the efforts of those here,

Whether you push for the front of the group or you’re happy at the rear.

It’s the fact a trekker is here and trying, that makes you swell with pride,

Especially those who struggle, glad for their porter at their side.

For we need them today as we needed them then, and they too need us,

Getting each other out of trouble is a kinship built on trust.

My grandad thought them special; he said “they’re just a different breed”,

“Without those Angel’s there to help us, many men would never leave.”

So that’s the part I value most, to see both form a new respect.

As we all walk the track together through the mud and heat and wet.

For on this Track we’re all related through shared history, sweat and pain,

And to all those fallen Brother’s ……. “mate your efforts weren’t in vain”

I won’t pretend to know the fallen, as did their mates or wives or mother’s

But I will be forever proud to call them, my Kokoda Track Brothers.