From the tormented heart of a Kokoda Veteran’s daughter

Beverley Partridge is the daughter of a Kokoda veteran and the wife of a Vietnam Veteran. She is a poet, author and thespian. We met during our year at the Army Command and Staff college in Fort Queenscliff where her husband Tom and I were students in 1981. Bev was instrumental in forming a ‘Theatre Group’ amongst the wives at the Fort and was the ‘life of the party‘ – always happy.

I never knew of her connection with Kokoda until she joined my trek in 1995 – and I never knew of her emotional interpretation of the pilgrimage until she sent me this poem and short story after her return from PNG.

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Kokoda Guides: What teenage girls really think

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. 
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