22/11/2003 at 3:57 am #94003
From a young family looking down the barrel of Japanese invasion to the Battle of the Coral Sea to the soldier's campaign to current trekking, this album is the story of the Kokoda Trail accompanied by 400 images spanning the past sixty years.
Kokoda Trail Collector's Album by Bob McDonald:
Album.jpg22/11/2003 at 4:02 am #94002
A little about the publisher – Bob McDonald
Bob spent 41 years living at McDonald?s Corner at the Moresby end of the Kokoda Trail.
The corner is named after his father P.J. who in 1941 had acquired some virgin jungle called Ilolo where he started planting rubber trees. There was no ?corner? in 1942, it was just a road-head where the walking track to Kokoda commenced.
The 8 kilometre road to the plantation, which PJ built by hand, was of great strategic importance when the Kokoda campaign commenced. P.J. refused to be evacuated and was commissioned a Lieutenant in the field, at age 52 (he was ex Gallipoli) with ANGAU, and stayed for the duration of the war at McDonald?s Corner.
Bob?s childhood was alive with the ?real? toys of war. Tommy gun, Japanese woodpecker and type 99 light machine gun, 303?s and a 45 pistol, all which were ?sort of aimed? and fired regularly. Each Christmas holidays a whole box of 303 ammunition was put through the barrels.
Bob took over the property in 1967 and operated it until being acquired under the Acquisition Act in 1980. After settling amicably with the local Kioari people, he moved to the Sunshine Coast where he happily pursues all manner of odd opportunities.
He walked the Trail last December with his son and nephew, who kept asking probing questions. To answer these satisfactorily he has produced this Kokoda Trail-McDonald?s Corner album, which covers all aspects of the Kokoda Campaign and has room for 120 photos for those who have walked The Bloody Track.
RSL clubs are acquiring the Album, displaying it in a timber/glass case and turning a page each week.
THE KOKODA TRAIL:
The_Kokoda_Trail_Album600.jpg22/11/2003 at 4:13 am #94004
Reading this makes your legs grow weary as if you had just climbed the 'Golden Stairs' or the nine false peaks of the Maguli Range. You feel the mud between your toes and imagine the taste of acrid cordite atop Butchers Hill or in the dark, dank, dripping depths of Eora Creek. Combining the best Kokoda writers with personal pictures of the track, this collection demonstrates the utter waste and sheer strength of spirit that kept Australia safe during those bleak hours of 1942.
This monument was built by the author in 1967 for the 39th Battalion's 25th Anniversary Pilgrimage, using P.J. McDonald's issue .303 rifle and tin hat.
McDonalds_Corner.jpg22/11/2003 at 4:15 am #94005
A detailed overview, this compilation identifies specific battalion movements during gruelling engagements, revises military decisions, diseases contracted on the track, the fuzzy wuzzy angels and describes the trail through the eyes of someone who has trekked what has become known as, 'the ultimate military obstacle course'.
In your album there are 10 A3 size pages to hold 120 personal photos for when you walk 'The Bloody Track'.
Album_Advert.jpg22/11/2003 at 4:54 am #94006
Dedicated to the memory of his late father P.J. McDonald who showed that dreams can come true.
To his son Nathan, who prompted, encouraged and provoked him into putting together the compilation.
Quote from the album:
The Kokoda Trail is an ancient ninety six kilometre native track that crosses over Papua New Guinea's spinal Owen Stanley Range and is a concertinaed jumble of razor edged peaks, with unbelievable steep ascents totalling 5,500m and descents also of 5,500m.
You walk from sea level to the top of Mt. Kosciusko and back two and a half times, or two thirds up Mt. Everest and back.
This rugged terrain is made up of abrupt mountain gorges, delightful gurgling creeks, breathtaking views and the myriad greens that make up a tropical jungle.
Distance is seldom calculated. You think only of the time it takes to reach the top of the next mountain or the following creek crossing.
The country constantly changes: from rainforests with towering trees entwined with creepers and studded with orchids, jungles of ferns, eerie moss forests, open grassland, to dry lake beds and each day on the trail maintains an excitement of the unknown and unexpected.
Join this with 5-degree nights and 15-degree noon's (this is in the summer month of December) at an altitude of 2190m and you have a truly magic setting.
That is if you are trekking in the dry, with adequate provisions, carriers to look after your pack, cook your meals, pitch your tent, and help you not to get lost. And without a well trained, determined enemy to contend with.
The Track has the capacity to bring out the emotion in you, whether from the realisation of the unimaginable hardships endured by the soldiers in 1942, or from a greater understanding of your inner self.
It leaves a mark on all who walk it.
I probably had more reasons to walk the Bloody Track than most, having lived at the Moresby end of it for 40 years where my father, in October 1940, hacked out an eight kilometre road through the jungle to reach Ilolo, his future rubber plantation. He built a bamboo walled, grass roofed house which was later to be the advanced Australian Military headquarters for a while. You can see Ioribaiwa, where the Japanese reached, from the doorstep.
This house was my home for 20 years and I easily recall the poignant ambiance of history that hit as soon as one walked in the door.
I was walking back home from Kokoda with my son, who could from childhood remember the plantation as 'that place with the big white doll's house'. It proved most rewarding introducing him to the local Koiari people with whom I had grown up. And I was returning to the jungle that I had loved with a passion in my youth.
This trek was on the 60th Anniversary of the Kokoda campaign and in December, being double six – 66, continuing the coincidences on page 77.
There was also another reason. I had survived advanced prostate cancer, by naturopathic means. It had taken two years and this was the perfect place to test whether the lethargy and fatigue that attends this problem had disappeared. It had.
Seven days walking of between six to ten hours a day and the pace was exhilarating – to put it midly! Its reputation as being one of the most difficult treks in the world is well founded. It was a fabulous experience for all and the closure of a difficult few years for me.
This compilation will perhaps answer some of the probing questions put to me by my son Nathan as we walked, that I could not adequately answer, about the war and the importance of the Kokoda Trail.
And maybe others will enjoy a 'top up' of history.
Bob McDonald, June 2003:
Nathan, Bob & Duane McDonald:
Nathan_Bob___Duane.jpg22/11/2003 at 5:22 am #94007
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