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Kokoda Track Memorial Walk

Thursday, April 23, 2009
Join Jules Lund in paying homage to our brave men of Kokoda, without having to tackle the incredibly gruelling trek in the jungles of Papua New Guinea.

An hour from Melbourne in the Dandenongs is the 1000-step Kokoda Track Memorial Walk. It was set up by National Parks and is maintained by rangers. People who fought on the Kokoda Track developed a series of 14 memorial plaques in a bushland location. For those who choose to stop and remember, it is a beautifully tranquil place and it is in no way intended to imitate the real trail.

Mind you, the Victorian version is no piece of cake. The 5km takes around two hours to walk and the track is very steep. It begins at the Ferntree Gully Rangers' Office and finishes at One Tree Hill Picnic Ground.

The 1000 steps give just a taste of the physical effort required to complete the real walk endured by Australian soldiers in 1942. They may have felt comforted had they been walking amongst tree ferns, gums and tall blackwoods, instead of the unfamiliar jungle flora and fauna.

Jules remembered being told as a boy by his dad that it's not the man in the fight but the fight in the man. That spirit was surely encapsulated by inspiring group of the young Australians of the 39th militia battalion. With an average age of just 19, they were attacked in the jungle one night by 900 Japanese troops who were in far better physical condition, but did not have the endurance and stoicism of the young Aussies.

They held off the enemy who later reported that there must have been at least a thousand of them — in fact there were just 77. Jules' dad was right — it is the fight in the man.

If you entertain the thought of walking the Papua New Guinea Kokoda Track, you will need to be totally committed and very fit. It is a 96km soul-searching footslog though some of the world's most treacherous terrain. Those who have done it say it is a life-changing experience.

If going there is not an option, the alternative just could give you a similar feeling as you pay tribute to our brave countrymen who, against all odds, battled our closest-ever land-borne assault, and won.

Location

Ferntree Gully in Victoria's Dandenong Ranges.

Cost

You can walk the Kokoda 1000 Steps free of charge.

For further information

Kokoda Track Memorial Walk
Burwood Highway and Mt Dandenong Tourist Road
Upper Ferntree Gully 3156
Ph: 131 963
www.parkweb.vic.gov.au

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