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’. [Read more…]

Heroism no longer required on Kokoda Track

The following article was written by Mick Ryan of Killara and published in the Sydney Morning Herald on August 20, 2009:

‘Surely I cannot be the only one to come back from the Kokoda Track and wonder what all the fuss is about. I do not dispute the bravery and sacrifice of the fallen, or the significance of the battles fought there. My concern is with the modern trekkers and the mythology being cultivated about what a superhuman feat it is to walk from Owers Corner to Kokoda in peacetime. [Read more…]