Kokoda: A new frontier for bucket-listers and chanting bogans

The jungles of Papua New Guinea can be a dark and foreboding place for the unwary. During the Kokoda campaign darkness came swiftly as the overhead canopy didn’t allow any form of twilight to penetrate below. Fires were forbidden because the glow of embers and the smell of dank smoke could betray a position to the enemy.

Before the transition to darkness each day soldiers would lie still during ‘stand-to’ in shallow pits lest the enemy used the cover to launch a surprise attack.  The silence in such an environment is deafening – until battalions of 6 o’clock crickets pierce the air with shrill buzzing calls lasting for up to half-an-hour.  For the first-timer in the jungle it is an unnerving sound but soon becomes part of the normal cycle of activity as they acquaint themselves with the sounds of nature.

Speak to any veteran of the Templeton’s Crossing campaign and they will quickly ask if the 6 o’clock crickets are still around. They are – but their status is under challenge from a new creature, the ‘chanting bogan’.

Chanting bogans are keen to tick the Kokoda trek off their bucket list and get across as quick and as economically as possible.  Some of the Kokoda eco-operators seem to target the bucket-lister market because they are low maintenance. They don’t want anything more than a superficial introduction to the wartime history – in fact they don’t want anything that will detract them from their egotistical mission of ‘doing Kokoda’.

Just as the peace of a ‘stand-to’ was often shattered by the 6 o’clock crickets during the Kokoda campaign the solemnity of a battlefield presentation or service is now disrupted by chanting bogans shouting ‘Ozzie, Ozzie, Ozzie – Oi, Oi, Oi’ to keep cadence as they stomp on by. Those on a historical pilgrimage across the trail have cause to cringe.

Six O’clock crickets have endured for centuries and will continue their shrill orchestra for centuries to come. It is hoped that the new bogan-chant, ‘Ozzie, Ozzie, Ozzie – Oi, Oi, Oi’ will not be as long lived.

Comments

  1. Stephen says:

    Charlie I could not agree more. As a witness to such an occurrence I am sad to say it was cringeworthy in the extreme and highly inappropriate. Aussie pride is great and should be encouraged but not in this way. Surely there is a better way to express patriotism in a setting as important to us as the Kokoda Trail than this stupid chant that is well past its use by date and in my view has become a national embarrassment.

  2. Marie Foreman & Michael Tamassy says:

    We hole hartedly agree & support your statement above Charlie. We were surprised & appalled by the behaviour of other trekkers & companies we come across while we were in the wonderful, historic & peaceful setting of the PNG jungle.
    Watching trekers shouting “Oi,Oi,Oi” while playing stacks on, with the trek leader watching & 3 other Trekkers still on the track hours behind (as they were 2 men in their 70’s & a lady in her 60’s) left with only their carriers (doing an outstanding job) & no medical support was almost more than we & our fellow trekkers could stand.
    Not to mention while at Brigade Hill, where we were honouring those who had fallen a group on completing a climb with Australian Flags on their back yelling “we did it” barging through disrupting our group, our guide & our clear time of reflection.
    How dare companys be allowed to operate in such a horrid & disrespectful manner.
    Going to PNG has been a highlight of our lives. The people of PNG we meet along the track were truly inspirational & the hardship faced by those living in Port Morsby, who are clearly trying to do what they can shows the strength of the PNG people.
    We would like to thank you & Chad for allowing us to see PNG for what it truly is & giving us not only a wonderful trekking experience but also teaching us one of Australia’s finest moments of war.

  3. Craig Westendorf says:

    Agree totally with the statements above as we all witnessed the bogan chants that cut through the jungle silence, especially during our own moments of reflection.

    As a member still serving in uniform there is nothing better than an early morning brew and taking in the sounds of the jungle stirring as the sun breaks through the skyline. Unfortunately for the true patriotic the silence was broken on more than a few occasions by unrestrained clowns.

    Australian pride is one thing however verbal outbursts in such a place as the Kokoda Trail can only be seen as typically bogan behaviour as unfortunately the rest of the world has come to know us.

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