Members of ship’s company in HMAS Anzac have undertaken a cultural tour to the Kokoda Track in Papua New Guinea during a deployment to South East Asia.
The tour showcased the beauty of Papua New Guinea, its culture and shared history with Australia. Commencing at the Sogeri Plateau, Anzac personnel were shown the rubber plantation near McDonald's Corner and the traditional method of gathering the ‘milk of the tree’ in order to produce rubber products used back in Australia. The tour then continued to the start of the Kokoda Track.
Able Seaman Communications Information Systems sailor Natasha Deakin was amazed by the one lane dirt road, which turned into a steep cliff, its muddy side carved in to allow people on foot to traverse in single file.
“The whole experience was eye opening,” she said.
“The view from the top of the track was spectacular. To be able to stand where so many Australians and Papua New Guineans have stood before, overlooking the mountains and experiencing the history it represents for both nations was truly humbling.
Accompanied by local guides, the Anzac team had the opportunity to experience the difficulty of the track, clambering down the rugged countryside. A 30-minute trek down muddy embankments opened into the Goldie River, was followed by an even longer return journey
The final stop of the tour was the Bomana War Cemetery, final resting place of 3,379 Papua New Guinean, Australian and allied soldiers.
Leading Seaman Combat System Operator Tarren Irvine said the cemetery visit was a valuable opportunity to visit the graves of two of his ancestors laid to rest within the cemetery.
“I found the drive to Bomana War Cemetery quite sombre.
“After visiting the cemetery last year with HMAS Adelaide and hearing stories of my family members in WWII, I was grateful for the opportunity to experience the Kokoda track with Anzac.
“Mostly I was grateful to see their final resting place and pay tribute to those they fought alongside,” Leading Seaman Irvine said.
Anzac is currently conducting a three month deployment that will see the ship visit a number of ports in South East Asia in order to strengthen relationships and interoperability with some of Australia’s close partners in the region.