Home Forums General Forums Articles and Stories The Power Of Kokoda Wins 2009 Bush Laureate Award

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    Recently along with my wife Maureen and Wallace Lemeki my KTL guide from Kokoda itself I attended the 2009 Bush Laureates Awards held during the Country Music Festival in Tamworth.

    When Dean Trevaskis recited to all those there his "The Power of Kokoda" for the first time Wallace turned to me and said that it was going to win and it did just that.

    Wallace was thrilled to be there not only to hear it read but also to know that it was the winner of the Poem of the year award for 2009. Wallace also enjoyed meeting a chatting with Dean after the awards.

    Dean much like myself with KTL had a fantastic experience however, trekked with another company and in his recent email to me says " Oh yeah and for the record my Grandfather was the original inspiration to do the Track. His name was Hec Hetherington (spelt Heatherington on his papers), he served with the 2/14th and 2/25th Battalions in the Middle East and New Guinea respectively. He survived the war and died in the mid 70’s leaving behind a significant legacy of 75 direct descendants that is growing every year"

    Dean has requested that his poem not be used for any advertising or commercial purpose, printed or distributed by any means should you wish to do so please contact Dean first at deanandsuez@bigpond.com .
    Dean is hoping to be publishing a book of his poems soon with this poem featured within it.

    The Power of Kokoda by Dean Trevaskis

    I’ll never known the sickening sound a fifteen-pounder makes
    That blows a mate to pieces as the ground around you shakes.
    Or how the memories haunt you if you chance to make it back.
    I’ll never know the price they paid to walk Kokoda Track.

    I’ve slogged across its gruelling, steep, uncompromising grind,
    That stretched the outer limits of my body and my mind.
    But I wasn’t being shot at in surprise attacks at night;
    My name’s not on a headstone in Bomana’s rows of white.

    I know about the stifling heat and oozing, rancid mud,
    But not the putrid stench of death or rivers running blood.
    I went to thank my Granddad and the other Diggers who
    Withstood, then beat, the Japanese in nineteen forty two.

    My group was drawn from family. My aunts and uncle came,
    With cousins and a sister, bearing ‘Hec’s Mob’ as our name.
    We walked in Hector’s footsteps with humility and pride,
    Prepared to conquer challenges with history as our guide.

    We spoke about the thirty-ninth and what they’d given here.
    They overcame their low morale, malaria and fear
    When told to fight until the death, until the job was done,
    And fight they did, against the odds, outnumbered, six to one.

    I watched my cousin cramp, then spew, three hours along the track,
    His pallid face and sunken eyes reflecting an attack
    Of crippling dehydration and a lack of self belief;
    He focused on the blokes who fought and therein found relief.

    He rose above his doubts and pain to redefine his best,
    The spirit of the thirty-ninth was beating in his chest.
    Their aura, undeniable, profoundly touched us all.
    Their stories lifted weary legs each time we hit the wall.

    Like Corporal Johnny Metson. On his bandaged hands and knees
    He scrabbled on the jungle floor, avoiding Japanese
    For weeks with fifty comrades forced to head off track and hide;
    With ankles shot to pieces, he refused the stretcher ride.

    And brave Lieutenant Bisset. He was leading from the front,
    Entrenched at Isuarava when his stomach bore the brunt
    Of enemy machine gun fire; the morphine eased the pain.
    He died within his brother’s arms in drenching Papuan rain.

    When Kingsbury turned a charging horde with Bren gun on his hip,
    He lost his life and won a cross for selfless leadership.
    The ripples of his actions had extended sixty years.
    My sister raised the flag as past and present merged in tears.

    She’d never travelled overseas, she’d scrimped all year to come.
    Her struggle was the stigma of a teenage single Mum.
    In that moment she was everything she thought she couldn’t be!
    With Kingsbury’s spirit in her veins she cut her demons free.

    My aunties were an inspiration plodding down the back,
    They sang to keep their spirits high, they understood the Track!
    The rest were fighting stomach bugs, collapsing knees and pain.
    They’d say “don’t worry, I’ll be right” and soldier on again.

    Brigade Hill saw us silenced by the mist which rose and cast
    A melancholy shadow. Was it ghosts of Diggers past?
    The likes of fallen heroes: Langridge, Lambert, Wilson, Nye,
    Who went to help their stranded mates, aware that they would die.

    My stomach churned for what they gave upon that sacred hill.
    I’d not felt more Australian and I doubt I ever will.
    Those Diggers are my reference point, a temple in my head.
    I don’t complain when things get tough, I think of them instead.

    Our journey in their footsteps has instilled an attitude,
    Of daily viewing ups and downs through eyes of gratitude.
    It taught us much about ourselves demanding that we pause
    And focus on our core beliefs, our inner strengths and flaws.

    We felt a force along the track that pushed us all beyond
    Our limits and our breaking points to form a closer bond.
    We came back better people for a price those Diggers paid,
    I never will forget them or the sacrifice they made.


    Boss Meri

    Loved reading the poem and our congratulations to Dean for winning the award. I would love to print it out and give it to our boys to read out on the track. Please check with Dean if this is ok with him.

    I had goose bumps whilst reading it!



    Hi Gail

    Dean is agreeable with you printing out his poem only to hand out to your boys to read to thier trekkers along the track.

    Wallace returned home yesterday together with a copy he certainly will be telling his family and those in Saga Village about it.

    Dean is a really wonderful chap to meet and chat to hearing him recite the poem at the awards really touched me bringing back memories of my own adventure.

    Dean is so thrilled to know that there is so much interest in the poem and that those reading it on this forum are getting much pleasure from doing so.

    Dean has requested that his poem not be used for any advertising or commercial purpose, printed or distributed by any means should anyone wish to do so please contact Dean first at deanandsuez@bigpond.com .

    Dean is hoping to be publishing a book of his poems soon with this poem featured within it.




    OMG – I cried the whole way through. What an incredibly powerful poem.


    Geoff Hardie

    Sorry to be "hoging" the forum pages at this time.
    Early last week I received my copy of "The Good Guts" the official newsletter of the 39th Battalion Association. Dean's poem was proudly published therein along with some background notes.
    I too was very moved emotially in reading the poem. It certainly brought back many of my thoughts I experienced thoughout our crossing in August 2007.
    Anyone interested in the affairs of the Association and reading the Newsletter in full, all is available on website, http://www.39battalion.org
    Cheers, Geoff Hardie


    Geoff Hardie

    Hi Everyone,

    I emailed Dean congratulating him on his most insightful poem.
    I made a suggestion that a verse with reference to the heroic efforts of the Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels maybe a most worthwhile addition if thought fit.
    It was our pleasure, myself and my two sons, to meet in person during our crossing in August 2007. two of the the original Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels at Naduri and Menari Villiages.
    Both were most humble individuals who are a credit to their Nation and it was a most moving experience to have the opportunity to personally thank them and their wartime efforts in assisting our brave diggers, including my late father, who served on the Track in 1942.
    Cheers, Geoff Hardie


    Geoff Hardie

    Hi Everyone.
    I emailed Dean to congratulate him on his magnificant Poem and suggesting he might like to consider, if he thought appropriate, a verse in dedication to the wonderfull Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels.
    During our crossing in August 2007, I and my two sons, it was our pleasure to meet personally, and thank two of the surviving Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels at Naduri and Menari villages for their heroic wartimes efforts for our brave diggers, including my late father. Both were most humble in their welcoming us to their village and are credit to their Nation.

    Cheers, Geoff Hardie


    Geoff Hardie

    Hi Gail,

    Attempted twice over the last weekend to add some additional info regarding Dean's poem.
    Each time message received was that post would be "screened" before posting . Is there a problem?
    Basically I had suggested to Dean that he might like to consider a verse dedicated to the wartime efforts of the Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels.

    Cheers, Geoff Hardie

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