15/08/2010 at 3:08 pm #104655
On the 9th August, Lady Carol Kidu touched down at Kokoda long with Peter Allen representing the Australian High Commission in Port Moresby and some of the relatives from the 2009 Airlines PNG plane crash.
The photograph below was taken shortly after the group had landed at the Kokoda airport.
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A short time later the group were driven to the Orohaven Kokoda Retreat entrance where they were photographed entering the grounds. On arrival they were treated to a typcial Oro Province traditional welcome with the words ORO ORO ORO echoing around us.
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Refreshments were then served in the Orohaven Kokoda Retreat's dining room. At this time, Lady Kidu met with the councilor of Haila Village and Russell Eroro. We were informed that all was in readiness for the group to walk the following day to Haila Village.
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The father of one of the girls who died in the crash, Keith Weire (a builder) erected the three plaques on our 'Wall of Remembrance' especially built for the occasion at the request of the Kinross family as they needed somewhere to place a plaque in honour of their beloved daughter Hannah.
Keith made sure they were placed perfectly on the wall. One plaque was in honour of the two girls. One was put there by ourselves in relation to Russell's brother Kingsley who died in the crash and the other by the Weire family who lost their daughter Kelly.
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Around 1pm we all made our way by road inside our truck commonly referred to as KTL2 to the Eroro family block. On arrival the group were once again welcomed traditionally and flowers were placed around their necks by the nieces of the late Kingsley Eroro.
Russell's father can be seen in the background. When the war commenced he was 14 and living in Gona Village. He has seen a lot of things both in Gona and Kokoda but does not like to talk about it. After the war he was employed by the District Administration in Kokoda and was offered a block of land at which time he married and settled in Kokoda. The family live there to this day along with their children and grandchildren.
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The Eroro Family cooked up a feast of food which they offered to their very special guests following a prayer from Russell's eldest sister who is married to a retired Anglican Bishop. Unfortunately he could not be present as he was in Port Moresby to attend the funeral of his friend Sir Brian Bell. Their eldest son Christopher can be seen in the first photograph welcoming everyone to their family block.
Lady Carol Kidu was also introduced to Grace the widow of Kingsley Eroro who was originally from Vanuata. When her and Kingsley married, they settled on the family block in Kokoda. Grace is the agent for Airlines PNG and also the postmistress at the local post office.
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Before leaving the block we were asked if we would like to take a walk to view Kingsley Eroro's resting place. This was a sad occasion but it allowed the relatives to understand that a PNG family were also grieving for the loss of someone special in their lives. The family in PNG and the families from Australia share a special bond. The Eroro family informed them that they would always be welcome to visit their family block.
Kingsleys_Grave.jpg15/08/2010 at 3:51 pm #104664
On the way back from the Eroro family block we called into the Kokoda Primary School so the Kinross family could meet the student they have sponsored through the 'KINGSLEY ERORO FOUNDATION SCHOLARSHIP. The lucky recipient was a young lad by the name of Michael. As part of the scholarship, the Kinross family will pay for his tuition for the next four years to allow him to finish his studies at High School.
Michael they were informed was also the school captain. They also got to meet his parents as per the photographs below.
The scholarship was arranged through the Kokoda Track Foundation. The Kinross family also sponsored two students from the Kokoda Track who are attending a high school at Mt Diamond. On the day before they departed PNG, they also met with the two students recommended to them by the Kokoda Track Foundation.
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We also had as part of this group a doctor from the Sunshine Coast who showed an interest to check out the Kokoda Hospital. On the way back to Orohaven Kokoda Retreat the group made a detour to check out the monument area around the Kokoda Station and to visit the hospital. Sorry do not have any photographs of this.15/08/2010 at 3:57 pm #104666
The group rested later in the afternoon and enjoyed a meal before retiring for the night.
The next day the 10th August they were driven to Kanadara Village the drop off point for their walk to the crash site. On the way to Kanandara we stopped off at the Eroro Family block to pick up John Derick Eroro who would act as their guide. Whilst stopped, they were introduced to the Kokoda Trail champion, Brendan Buka who holds the record in 16 hours 34 minutes from Owers' Cnr to Kokoda.
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This first part of their walk was from Kanadara Village to Haila Village where the plan was to rest them and to spend the night. Before they left Kanadara Anne and Jo handed over to the councilor of the village Paul Esiko, a soccor ball in honour of Dr June Cavanagh who was going to walk Kokoda to raise money for a charity. Anne informed me the amount raised was around the $250,000 mark.
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