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- 12/05/2005 at 2:34 am #95038
81 year-old WWII veteran on an emotional Anzac pilgrimage in Kokoda.
A TOTAL of 429 including two high profile Australians visited Papua New Guinea and walked the Kokoda Trail to mark the Anzac Day which fell on Monday, 25th April.
Among them was an 81 year-old WWII veteran from Western Victoria who was based in Sogeri during the war, Walter Henry Kelly.
He didn’t get any World War II honors and gallantry nor was he accorded for bravery but Walter is a true hero in a sense.
Walking the 96km infamous Kokoda Trail was a dream come true for Walter, aka, Wally.
Walter Kelly and his porter Tom Hango seen here on the Kokoda Trail – Anzac 2005
12/05/2005 at 2:50 am #95225
60 years after the war and he is back in Papua New Guinea where he spent time serving during the WWII. He arrived in PNG for Anzac Day which fell on April 25.
No. He was not here to lay wreathes but to walk the 96km WWII Kokoda Trail in honor of the young mates gone.
A WWII veteran of Long Island in Radar, Walter had lived long to tell his story to his grandchildren. But what is amazingly true is that he has lived till the ripe age of 81 to attempt the renowned Kokoda Trail.
And if you think he didn’t make it, you’d be surprised to learn that this WWII veteran had walked the full length of the track in 9 days. The previous oldest trekker was 72 years old.
This would perhaps make him out to be the oldest Australian trekker ever and WWII veteran to have completed the hazardous track.
Walter was born in Camperdown Hospital, in Australia on May 7th, 1924 and grew up in Pomborneit North, a very small bush town in the Western District of Victoria.
He was the 5th child of twelve children and had an illustrious academic career.
Walter was among young Australians who were recruited to fight during WWII. He served at Long Island and also spent time working at a hospital in Sogeri during the War.
His dream to come back to PNG one day to visit Sogeri and walk Kokoda Trail came true this year when he booked to walk with the group of Australian trekkers during an Anzac trek on April 16th.
The amazingly energetic 81-year old walked from Owers’ Corner on the date mentioned and arrived to a hero’s welcome at Kokoda where he successfully completed his trek. He flew back into Port Moresby with the rest of his group on Arpil 24th and in time for the moving dawn service on Anzac Day at the Bomana War Cemetery.
Walter seen here with the porters and a ukulele in hand at Ower’s Corner before the Anzac trek towards Kokoda.
12/05/2005 at 2:58 am #95227
So what is this 81 year-old made from?
Walter was trained through the ex-serviceman scheme after WW2 and worked as a fully qualified roof tiler. (He is still very proud to have been involved in the building industry.)
The western district where grew up is renowned for producing riders and Walter spent time as a professional bike rider. He is still seen on his bike today and currently rides and walks approximately 60km a week.
A grandfather of three, Wally has bagged two awards and a couple of other prices for his bike achievements. His recent awards included Leader weekly sports star, in July 29th 2002 and also became the Best Grandfather in whole of Victoria.
He became four times prize winner of the Northern Veterans Cycling Association (NVCA) championships from the age of 65 to 70 and the two-time winner of the World Masters game for elderly people in Brisbane in 1994 and 2002 in Melbourne.
His other bike achievements included riding between Melbourne and Sydney for 88 times with a 24 hour ride around port fairy non-stop, the Great Nullabor bike ride in 1996, the Great Tasmanian bike ride approximately 5 times and the Great Victorian bike ride to 20 times.
He has done biking in some other countries including New Zealand, New Caledonia and Thailand.
As you can see, my father is an amazing individual who characterizes the Aussie spirit with his ability to live life to the full, and enjoy every minute of it, into his eighties’ and beyond, his daughter said proudly.
With the war having ended more than 70 years ago, the veterans and their stories may soon be forgotten. This is a tribute to Walter Kelly – you go tough guy!
Ends//23/04/2012 at 2:59 pm #95037Boss MeriMember
This time every year I wonder if Walter Kelly is still alive. He remains the oldest person to have ever walked the Kokoda Track with us, Kokoda Trekking. His promise to the diggers in a Sogeri Hospital that one day he would walk in their honour, was carried out at the tender age of 81. Walter turned 82 shortly after completing his successful trek.
Footnote: Walter walked the track at the only time we have not been able to get trekkers onto the track at Owers’ Corner. This poor guy along with other trekkers, were forced to walk in from Sogeri High School due to heavy rain.
29/01/2015 at 7:05 am #107206WazaMember
Perhaps not so much as a response to this particular post, but more as a response to un upcoming Trek, itimised in the calandar for the 23rd April 2015. It brings back wonderful memories of another similarly names "ANZAC at Isuarava" Trek of mine in 2005, some 10 years ago.
Good luck to all you 2015 Trekkers for this Trek, I'll be following your progress every day, reminising on my own trek 10 years earlier, as you climb the 'Test Hill' on the first day, a back breaking journer from Kokoda through Hoi to Kovello (say hello to Rod Ori there), then on to Deniki, wher e you can look back down to Kokoda Airstrip and then continue to climb after lunch to eventually isuarava Village and you think you have made it, only to find that you have another hour to go to get to the Battle site.
The next morning you will be brought to tears as the dawn unveils a panoramic view over the Isuarava Memorial, flanked by the Isuarava Ridgeline on your left and the Abuari Ridegeline on your right. then it is off furthe South to Alola Village, but look out for the 'operating table', a large rock which was used by our Medics on injured soldiers and look out also for the resting place of 'Butch' Bissett. then to the pretty little village of Alola and then onto Eora Creek, the site of a vicious battle as Australians advance back towards Kokoda in october 1942, then to templetons II and then across Templetons and then finally to the top of Mt bellamy, the highest point on the Track at 2190m.
Then through Kagi and onto Efogi, which is a really beautiful village. Then past Mission Ridge on the way to Brigade Hill, which will evoke many memories of 70 odd years ago, then down (and what a decline) Menari (the site of Lt. Col. Honnors famous address to the men of the 39th battalion) also if you have the energy, you may be invited for a game of Touch Footy on the Airstrip, which will really ensure that you sleep well that night. and you will need it as you tramp though the swamps the next day before ascending the Maguli Range to Naura and don't be fooled by the 9 false peaks, again you will sleep well at Nauro, where you may be lucky to get first choice of the 2 inch mattress, which will feel like you are sleeping on a cloud after the usual bamboo flooring. then a heart stopping descent down to Ofi creek and a daunting clinmb back to Iorabaiwa, the Southern most point reached by the Japanese advance, next morning it is off down to cross the Brown river at Va-Ule creek, before another afternoon climb to the Imita Ridge, which was the Southern most point where the Australians first retreated to before starting the push back to Kokoda. for you though the last day dawns as you head off to Uberi before crossing the last river for the last climb up to Owers Corner, where you will be overcome with emotion with what you have just achieved.
A life changing experience, that you will never regret in doing it. You will learn to treat people differently, you will have a different outlook on life, you will appreciate what your ancestors did for you and perhaps more importantly you will love and respect the locals who trekked with you, who cooked for you, who carried your gear for you and who always offered a hand of help in difficult situations, always take that hand, it is offered when they know that you could be in danger. enjoy the experience with Gail and KTL, it is something you will never forget.
Good luck, my thoughts, prayers & Heart will be with you on your journey
Waza – trek 83 & Trek 79208/03/2015 at 3:48 am #107214Boss MeriMember
On Channel 9 this morning they mentioned there was a 91 year old who finished a long distance cycling race in Victoria. I straight away thought of Walter Kelly as perhaps it was him still peddling! Just before coming to PNG to walk the track he informed me he had just competed in the great ocean road cycling race. Anyone know if Walter Kelly is still alive and entering cycling races?
I googled his name and found him still in a race in 2009 aged 84
Sport Program Cycling – 14 – Saturday 28 February 2009 – Road Race
08.00am Men Cat 10 (75-79) & 11 (80-84) 20mins + 2 laps – 31kms
253 John Donohue M10 NSW
254 Hayden Gill M10 SA
255 Edward Harison M10 Vic
256 Geoffrey Hawkins M10 NSW
257 John Randall M10 Vic
259 Colin Speller M10 Vic
261 Walter Kelly M11 Vic
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