Monday, November 17, 2008

2007 Experience - Rallying the Troops

Rallying the Troops
Our Kokoda dream was born after Trisha Dixon’s Longreach tour in 2005, and Anna and Trisha’s New Zealand walk along the Kaikoura Track later that year. On their return I emailed Trisha and said her next project should be Kokoda Treks . Trisha didn’t embrace this suggestion with much glee, but suggested Darvall and Skye may like to do it. So it became for Ian, Darvall, Vic and myself, with whatever family members we could include, as the original four (at least two of us made it, well done Vic!). Quite a contingent appeared from the Cooma area, most of whom fell by the wayside with the passage of time, plus a few from down our way, I suggested to Pip Ritchie that he should do it also, he sidestepped the issue, but put his son Will up for membership of the Kokoda Club. Gradually our group grew, with the inclusion of Clive after his mountaineering experience up Mount Donna Buang, when, as he said, he ascended said mountain with a group of ‘young Turks’, forty-ish, corporate types, gym junkies, super fit, they left poor Clive in their wake. That night Clive rang me asking that he may be included in our team, as he felt if he did Kokoda with those guys, they would more than likely kill him! I was absolutely delighted with the prospect of him joining us, and much later when his son Jonno came on board, that was an added bonus. Darvall was unfortunately burnt out in the fires earlier this year, so he was unable to fulfil his dreams, Lawrie took on a job with Packer, and was therefore a scratching quite understandably (had a wedding to attend!), although he always said if the worst came to the worst, he would love to be a late inclusion.
Charlie (Vic’s nephew, farmer from Corowa) was in from the start, and a very funny thing happened at a cattleman’s meeting, where Charlie and Sandy M. were both on a board chaired by Malcolm, when they met in May or thereabouts it was suggested the board should meet again in August. Sandy said he would be unable to attend in August as he was doing Kokoda then, Charlie being the shy retiring type that he is (not!), thought to himself thank goodness I didn’t have to say that, but I’m in the same boat. After the meeting he said to Sandy that he was doing Kokoda at about the same time, who are you going with. Sandy replied that he was doing it with a friend called Bim, Charlie was flabbergasted and replied that he was going with a guy called Jim, and wondered if they were related! Sandy assured him that they were one and the same person. Eight people sitting round a boardroom table, two of them barely know each other, and find themselves plunging into the jungle of New Guinea together with the Colonel! Doug was always on my radar for this trip, because of his experience with Lauriston and Brauer College, and also because of well, he’s Doug. So I suggested it to him and he was keen, although he didn’t sign up right away, in fact our last member, Sandy actually signed up before Doug, after we three had attended George's wedding at Burra in March. Late that night it was suggested to Sandy that he was too weak to attempt Kokoda, I thought it was Doug who put that suggestion, but Sandy assured me it was in fact me, anyway the long and the short of it was that Sandy rang Kris at Our Spirit as soon as he returned from the wedding and signed up! And didn’t he make us look like novice walkers – well done Sandy. Another Sandy and Charlie story was Charlie asking Sandy (the feedlotter) perpetually, “And what do you do with your offal?” which became a sort of Kokoda theme, picked up by lots of other members of the group.


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