On the 8th and 9th of August I was immensely privileged to be able to accompany a group of Aboriginal Australians on part of their walk of the historic Kokoda Track in Papua New Guinea. The trek, backed by the Jobs Australia Foundation, was part of the Indigenous Leadership Youth Program.
My part in this adventure was what the Papuans call in pidgin, “sumting, nutting” (something, nothing i.e. of little consequence). With blind trekker, Steve Widders, and trek guide, Dion Taylor, I walked from Kokoda to Daniki; a hard climb for two elderly men, let alone a blind one; and then back from Hoy Village after camping overnight, to Kokoda in the pre-dawn darkness. Steve, of course handled this with aplomb, even telling Dion when he sensed we had taken a wrong turn on the track.
In photographing them together, I couldn’t help remembering George Silk’s famous photograph from 1942.
For me one of the highlights, apart from the knowledge that I had completed a demanding physical challenge, was the opportunity to wash off the sweat and mud of the trail in this cool, rushing, mountain stream.
The Kokoda Track is said to be one of the most challenging treks in the world. I salute all of those who completed the entire journey. You have my ungrudging admiration and respect. You must be proud.