Two attention seeking wannabees recently set out to trek across the Kokoda Trail in the wet season without proper clothing, camping equipment or a local PNG guide. They achieved their five minutes of fame when they claimed to have been assaulted and robbed by ‘cannibals’ and ‘spear throwing tribesmen’.  They escaped ‘wild dogs’ and and survived ‘poison ivy’ as they ran semi-naked over jungle-clad mountain ranges in bare feet. The ‘hero’ of this epic jungle escape was a British ‘reality’ television ‘Tarzan’ – his ‘Jane’ was an amorous American waitress

In their quest for their five minutes of fame they attempted to denigrate one of the most fascinating countries on the planet – Papua New Guinea.

Anybody who has trekked Kokoda will attest to the fact that the Koiari and Orokaiva guides and carriers are truly masters of their environment and genuine ‘fuzzy-wuzzy angels’.  The following quotes from young Australian women who have trekked Kokoda – many from the RSL Kokoda Youth Leadership Challenge – describe the reality of the nature of their PNG guides and carriers:

Rachel McCrae:
A tear comes to my eye when I think about our beautiful guides and porters. We were blessed with the most amazing group of gentlemen, and they made my trip. They took the time to walk with us if we were struggling, they were patient and understanding. They also had a great sense of humour and greeted us every day with a smile. I miss them more and more each day, and feel blessed that I got to meet and walk with such amazing people. 

Kyle Woodward:
The PNG boys had something special about them. That ever so slight touch of a hand on you pack to keep you steady, even when we didn’t need their help we knew their hand was there for those just in case moments. It was an amazing feeling knowing that when things got tough that they would always be there with a hand held out.  

Grace Parker:
The PNG guides and Carriers we had taught me so incredibly much and were amazing people. I am so glad I am able to remember my experience and have them as a huge part of making it enjoyable. The kindness and caring nature they showed towards us was inspirational and the patience as they waited for us and slowly walked and talked with us was amazing. I am so privileged to have walked with some of them and been influenced by their contagious smiles. I aspire to have the same kindness and gentleness back in the Dubbo community.  

Jessica Thy:
The carriers were amazing and so helpful. We got to build bonds with them and it was sad to say bye to them. They helped us so much and risked their lives to make sure we were safe. I cannot show how much gratitude I feel towards them. Send my wishes to Stanley and his family on the arrival of their new baby.  He helped me so much and was always there when I needed help even before I knew it.  

Lily Truszewski:
They were beautiful people, all helping us when we looked like we were struggling and so lovely to talk to.  A few of us ended up having a carrier that would walk with us the whole time, which was great to develop a friendship.  I had Bradley who was great, always found me no matter what pace I was doing.  He taught me about the different fruits in the forests, and the different villages, he told me about his family during the war and had answers for all my questions.  

Laura Dick:
These boys were exceptional people! The one thing I speak most about is how humble and generous their kindness was to everyone in the group! They went above and beyond to look out for us, always lending a hand when need be and even when you don’t ask for it! They were the modern day Fuzzy Wuzzy angels! They did so much for us, I just wish I could have returned the favour by giving more! They are truly beautiful people and felt so grateful that I was able to get to know them more – in particular Knoxi, Kombi, Frank, Bendi, Nelson, John O, Danny, Andy and Benson!  

Emma Robinson:
I have never met happier people in my life, they went above and beyond to help us, I am sure our trip would not of been possible without them.

Sarah Youssef:
My experience was made possible by these gentlemen. Even though Rob assisted me for the most part, if he wasn’t available, another was by my side. They were always extremely pleasant and had smiles on their faces.

They put their lives on the line for us EVERYDAY without question and without hesitation.

They were never inappropriate in any way and they always did their best to involve themselves with the group, learn our names, encourage us when we were down and provide assistance when we were struggling.

They are very aware of trekkers capabilities and were extremely knowledgeable about the difficulty of the track enabling them to provide assistance at the right times.

I certainly wouldn’t have made it if it wasn’t for their assistance and I was able to learn so much from them as well.

Marianne Woodhouse:
I had Kelly and he was fantastic. He worked between Abbey (another trekker) and I really well. He seemed to know when to walk with each of us to help us through the tougher sections. The other porters were just as good. Even if they didn’t have to act as a person’s porter that were still willing to reach out and help out and answer any questions that we had.

Aimee Caitlin:
The porters were absolutely amazing and were always there for us even when we were whinging, the guides helped our whole adventure run smoothly and none of us would have reached the end without the help of the porters and guides.

Daniella Chiappetta:
They were all very supportive, helpful, polite and respectful, my porter Kovee was sensational and new exactly when to stand by me (difficult parts )  and when to let me be solo (easier parts), I could rely on him for anything, collecting water, not making me fall and respecting my pace.

The medic and the others were also so considerate and helpful.

 

Catalina Moraga:
A+. They were considerate, funny, caring and supportive. I would not have made it without their help, guidance and smiles!

Courtney Smith:
I rate these guys excellent, but that are so much more than that. They are absolutely amazing people, always there to hell you up when you fall down and doesn’t matter what time of the day it is, they’ll always have a smile for you. Always up for a chat, I’m glad for the one on one conversation I had with them, learning their stories was a major part of my Kokoda experienced.  Absolutely commendable people! 

Kaylee James:
They were better than excellent! They were truly amazing!

Taylor Wright:
They were incredible. They helped us all so much and were extremely kind and friendly.

1942:

Captain ‘Blue Steward, Regimental Officer, 2/16th Battalion:

 “… they never forgot their patients, carrying them as gently as they could, avoiding the jolts and jars of the many ups and downs.  The last stretcher was carried out by the Regimental Aid Post boys, two volunteers, Padre Fred and myself.  Till then we never knew the effort needed, nor fully appreciated the work the carriers were doing.  Their bare, splayed feet gave them a better grip than our cleated boots could claim on the slippery rocks and mud.

 “Some of the bearers disliked the tight, flat canvas surfaces of the regulation army stretchers, off which a man might slide or be tipped.  They felt safer with the deeper beds of their own bush made stretchers – two blankets doubled round two long poles cut from the jungle.  Each time we watched them hoist the stretchers from the ground to their shoulders for another stint, we saw their strong leg, arm and back muscles rippling under their glossy black skins.  Manly and dignified, they felt proud of their responsibility to the wounded, and rarely faltered.  When they laid their charges down for the night they sought level ground on which to build a rough shelter of light poses and leaves.  With four men each side of a stretcher, they took it in turns to sleep and to watch, giving each wounded man whatever food, drink or comfort there might be.

 Laurie Howson, 39th Battalion:

“The days go on.  You are trying to survive, shirt torn, arse out of your pants, whiskers a mile long, hungry and a continuous line of stretchers with wounded carried by ‘Fuzzy-Wuzzies’ doing a marvellous job.  Some days you carry your boots because there’s no skin on your feet.  But when I look around at some of the others – hell!  They look crook!  Then I have seen the time when you dig a number of holes in the ground and bury your dead.  Nothing would be said, but you think ‘maybe it will be my turn next.”

These are the people the two wannabee celebrity air-heads tried to denigrate in their quest for some instant fame.

What a pair of drongoes!

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