Emus Online - February 2008

To subscribe to this newsletter - send a request to hudson@bigpond.net.au. For past issues - please go to the Emus Orienteering Website - http://emus.orienteering.com.au/ ; this site has html and printable copies of many Emus Online and printed newsletters.

In this Edition

Membership News

Double-Feature Weekend - this coming weekend + Club Dinner

What's on?

Saturday - 8th March Sunday - 9th March
Event Name SILVA National Orienteering League/Vic Club Relay  
Club TK  
Suburb/Location Chewton  
Map Spring Gully  
Fireban District North West  
Directions to Start From Melbourne: follow Calder fwy to Elphinstone, take Castlemaine exit (B180). Head towards Chewton. In Chewton turn left onto Fryers Rd and follow ''''O'''' signs.  
Melway Ref Map 909 D7  
Organiser Sean Sunley/SeanSunley@bigpond.com/0433073959  
Course Setter Ian Phillips  
Controller Jim Russell  
Start Time(s) 12.00 Club Relays / 14.00 NOL Relays  
Courses Refer Website under Featured Events  
Remarks Pre-entry. Club teams through club secretaries. SILVA National Orienteering League through OA websi  



Fees VOA-Snr : 12.00  
Fees VOA-Jnr : 6.00  
Fees VOA-Family : 30.00  
Fees non-VOA-Snr : 18.00  
Fees non-VOA-Jnr : 9.00  
Fees non-VOA-Family : 45.00  
Event Name SILVA NOL Eureka Challenge Badge #1, State Series  
Date 2008-03-09  
Club EU  
Region Ballarat  
Suburb/Location Clunes  
Map Mt Beckworth Scenic Reserve  
Fireban District Central  
Directions to Start From Melbourne - take Western Highway(M8) past three Ballarat exits following the Ballarat Bypass; exit Bypass at Clunes/Maryborough exit (C287/Learmonth Road); turn right over the Bypass and travel through Miners Rest towards Clunes for 7 km; veer left into Coghills Ck Rd and travel 13 kms; turn right on Fenton Road (o-sign); after 4 kms turn left into Mountain Creek Rd (o-sign) and follow o-signs 4 kms to parking area. From Bendigo - travel through Maldon, Newstead and Campbelltown to Clunes; in centre of Clunes turn right on Maryborough Road and travel 2 kms; turn left on Cemetery Road; cross railway line and turn right on Pickfords Rd; follow this road by veering left after 250 m and by turning left after a further 800 m Travel south for 3kms and turn right on Mountain Road (o-sign) and follow o-signs 4 kms to parking area  
Melway Ref 627 A2  
VicRoads Ref 58 D6  
Organiser Blake Gordon (03 5331-7937)  
Course Setter Terry Haebich (0417348768) thaebich@bigpond.net.au  
Controller Chris Norwood, chris.norwood@dsto.defence.gov.au  
Start Time(s) NOL 9.30 am, Badge Courses 10.30am to 1.00 pm  
Courses Standard 9 courses for 2008: C1(11.9k) to C9(1.7k)  
Remarks NOL entry: closed; Badge entries: Pre-entry by Feb 25th on EU website www.eurekaorienteers.asn.au  
Fees VOA-Snr : 15.00  
Fees VOA-Jnr : 10.00  
Fees VOA-Family : 40.00  
Fees non-VOA-Snr : 20.00  
Fees non-VOA-Jnr : 15.00  
Fees non-VOA-Family : 55.00  

Our Relay Teams

Group  Age Class(es) Difficulty 1st Leg Name (mass) 2nd Leg Name 3rd Leg Name
3 M-16,M45-54, Hard Phil Giddings Peter Mallen  David Mallen
  W17-20,W35-54   Helen Edmonds Fiona Fell  Laurie Niven
  ( W21 sub)        
4a M55+,W45+,W-16 Hard Dave Lotty Geoff Armstrong Rob Edmonds
      Don Fell Geoff Hudson  Ron Frederick
        Barry Moore Kevin Maloney
5a M/W-21b Medium Sue Healy Gill King Janet Fitzwater 
Mixed All mixed courses Hard  Jessica Niven    
   are open Medium Joyce Rowlands     
   to any age  Easy Jesse Mallen    

Club Dinner in Castlemaine

If you're planning to stay in the area on Saturday evening - why not join us for dinner at Capones, a pizza/pasta restaurant in Castlemaine. Discuss the day's activities and carbo-load for Sunday's event at Mount Beckworth.

Important - if you'd like to join us for dinner, please call Geoff now on 9888 8121 (leave a message if nobody home) and we'll reserve your spot. We'll give members a couple of days head-start and then open reservations to folks from other clubs. Please Call now...

Accommodation in Castlemaine

There is still accommodation in Castlemaine available - we didn't have too much trouble getting in. If you plan to stay in the area, try:

NE's Borhoney Ghurk area damaged by bushfire

Those of you that have run on the Borhoney Ghurk map just South of Mount Doran, may have heard that there was a bushfire in the area earlier this summer. The map below shows the area impacted by the fire. Rex and Laurie tramped around the fire-damaged part of Borhoney Ghurk recently and reported...

The good news is:
- the burnt areas would be perfectly OK for orienteering.  They are eerily attractive, they resemble an English beech forest.  We didn't get black at all.
- around 40% of the map area is NOT burnt
- the "good" areas are in two big chunks,
       along the western boundary, about 1km2 , including the pine plantation
       along the east side, around 3km2 along the slopes of the West Moorabool River and the top of the central high plateau
- in most of the burnt area the trees seem to be only superficially singed, the leaves are brown but still attached to the branches.
- there is still quite a bit of undamaged ground cover (bushes, grass, moss and the like) and unburnt patches of trees,
         although the heat was quite intense in other areas
The bad news is
- there are several km of new containment trails along the fire edges
- the burnt area is a little larger than the DSE map indicated
- all the complex gold mining terrain is in the burnt areas
- in steep areas the soil tends to crumble easily
- some areas could have some undergrowth spring up
- tapes around dangerous mines need replacing
However, my conclusion is that with appropriate course-setting a good event could still be held here.

Statutory Bodies charge us to run in parks

The VOA have been informed by Parks Victoria that they plan to impose a fee of $1.60 per entry on anybody taking part in an organised activity that starts in or runs through park grounds. While we recognise that many bodies are under pressure to introduce a "user-pays" approach to use of their facilities....it seems to most that this is a "user pays twice" approach as most of us already pay rates for the privilege of accessing local parks.

The committee agreed to ask the VOA Board to challenge this approach at the appropriate levels.

Interestingly, the approach adopted by Melbourne City Council when we asked them if we could run an event in the Carlton Gardens was a distinct contrast. While they could have imposed a fixed fee of $150 on the event, MCC decided that the event was worthy of support and notified us that they would waive the entry fee to assist us with the event. Sincere thanks and congratulations to the Council for such a reasonable view-point.

Coming Events

20 March - Easter at Dubbo

It's the time of year when many of our members head off to the Easter 3-day carnival (we are Victoria's leading bush club after all...). This year, the Easter Carnival (which actually runs for 8-9 days) will be held in Dubbo. With superb terrain for runners and interesting tourist highlights, this year's carnival should provide a great time for all present.

20 March - Easter in Melbourne

A lot of the gun-runners will be up North - so attendance will be down at Park-Street events. This is, of course, a good opportunity for the rest of us to get better scores than normal as the competition is reduced.

In addition, we're planning to run a Melbourne Park-Street series over the long-weekend for those of you that would enjoy a social walk/run and/or some exercise. As is usual with informal events - we plan to run these in parkland areas with coffee shops nearby. This should be an enjoyable activity for all - and entry is FREE! See the Melbourne Street orienteering website at http://street.orienteering.com.au/ for details.

26 April - Glenluce North - State Series Bush Event

Bernie Shuttleworth is organising this event and already seems to have most things under control. Offers of assistance would certainly be appreciated - helping out at an event is a great way to socialise with other members (and Bernie will see to it that everybody gets a run too). If you would like to help out, please contact Bernie on 9849 0546.

Recent Events

5 Jan - Emus Training Event - Carlton Gardens

Geoff and Jun Okabe ran an entertaining event in the Carlton Gardens. Featuring a new colour map in ISSOM 2007 format, this event took entrants through a series of line-course loops within the gardens and then allowed them to use the remainder of their 60 minutes to gather 25 controls in the streets to the North of this area. The format was fast moving and fun and everybody that took part enjoyed it. Several then retired to nearby Lygon Street for iced coffees and light lunch.     Full report available at   http://street.orienteering.com.au/2008/Saturday/Summer/2008-01-05-report.html

26 Jan - Hurstbridge MTBO

A great event out at Hurstbridge with a mix of nice dirt roads, bike paths and a couple of grotty creek crossing to challenge competitors. Dion Keech did best collecting 19 of the 20 controls, but had 9 minutes to spare so regretted not going for the complete set. Carolyn Jackson was first women in 3rd overall with 18 controls. Course-setter Rob Edmonds did well getting permission to use some private property to further extend the navigational possibilities of the map. NE members in attendance included Rob, Jeff Hughes and Kevin Maloney.

7 Feb - Darebin Feature Event - Jim Taylor/Geoff Hudson

Our photographer Callum got some wonderful photographs of the event and the folks taking part. Click Here to go to the Photo Gallery for this event..

Some of the highlights included:

  • A bush run for park-street folks - we provided a full-colour map of the park area with a long and short course.
  • Displays about the club, the VOA, Mountain Bike orienteering and Radio Orienteering.
  • Darebin Creek in flood - participants were warned that crossing the creek in flood was dangerous and could prove fatal. It was noted that should this occur a 3 point penalty would also be imposed.
  • Kangaroos spotted on a suburban street-orienteering course (plus ducks, kookaburras and bellbirds).
  • Visitors from South Australia beat up on local park-street runners....metaphorically speaking of course.

24 Jan - Bundoora Park - Alex Shepherd

Course Setters - Alex and Lenore Shepherd

86 people turned out for the Bundoora Park event - and it was terrific to see so many newcomers coming along to try out street-orienteering for the first time. In spite of the shorter distances, the Bundoora Park event proved to be tougher than many expected. In contrast to earlier events, our course-setter, Alex Shepherd had not used the streets on the Western side of the map. Instead, he had used the narrow area between the North-South creek and the adjacent golf-course.

As a result of this, several of the control placements were more vague than is usual on a park-street event - looking for a tree adjacent to a creek crossing that seemed almost invisible proved quite a challenge - although the Southern creek crossing did provide a solid reference point within 10-20m of the control. The presence of an additional track - probably caused by service vehicles accessing the rear of the golf-course - confused some others. While I do agree that #3 was in precisely the spot shown, it was quite hard to locate exactly which tree the control was attached to.

In future, we'll try to hang an orienteering flag from such controls (if this situation occurs again). It's important that the lead runner not be disadvantaged by having to search for controls...only to allow following runners to catch up as he finally locates the control.

Congratulations to Paul and Desiree who, on finding a control card near control #7. Recognising that #7 was not punched they realised that the owner had probably dropped it on the way to the control. Being charitable folk, they punched the control and passed it in at the finish. Julie Merryfull who arrived shortly later was most impressed that her card was waiting for her at the finish 

Geoff Hudson ran C course with visiting nieces Lauren and Madison

Hands up everybody that's staying for dinner next week
Piper the dog - with owner Julie
Relaxing before the event Team Piscioneri - Anthony and Olivia ready to go
Briefing time - Alex provides a few tips and hints for navigation around the course Ian Greenwood tries to commit both hints to memory.... Judging by the 6 minute late penalty - and his difficulty in finding #3 - this was unsuccessful

26 Jan - You Yangs MTBO

Sadly, this event was the last opportunity for MTBO folks to ride in this area as Parks Victoria have decided to dedicate the area to horse-riding only. A total of 84 people took part in the event including NE's Rob, Helen, Kevin and Joyce. Thanks to other members that attended to help out on the day.

Club Events for 2008

Please let Rob Edmonds know if you would like to course set, organize or control an event on this fixture. You can also learn the ropes by assisting in these roles. If you have never course set or organized a bush event before and would like to have a go please contact him.

1.   Summer Series MTBO – Saturday, Jan 26                 Hurstbridge
    Course Setters and Organisers: Rob & Helen Edmonds and Ron Frederick

2.   Summer Series MTBO – Saturday, Feb 16                Sandy Creek, You Yangs
    Course Setter: Phil Giddings
    Organiser: Phil Giddings and Ron Frederick                    

3.   Victorian MTBO Champs - Saturday, April 19           Mia Mia (new map) Maldon
      Course Setter: Geoff Armstrong                                       Organiser and Mapper: Rob Edmonds
      Controller:                                                                       Entries/Publicity: Eureka

4.   State Series – Saturday, April 26 Anzac W/E             Glenluce North, Vaughan Springs
      Course Setter:                                                                 Organiser:
      Controller: Barry Hart (Yarra Valley)

5.   Sunday Special, July 6                                                  Toorourrong Reservoir, Whittlesea
      Course Setter: Rex Niven (mapping)                                Organiser: 

6.   Maxi 3 Hour - Sunday, Sept 14                                    St Georges Lake, Creswick
      Course Setter:                                                                 Organiser:
      Controller:                                                                       Entries/Publicity: Rob Edmonds

7.   Night’O Event - Saturday, Nov 15                               Smiths Reef, Maldon
      Course Setter: Rex Niven                                                Organiser:
      Controller:                                                                       Entries/Publicity:

8.   Score Event - Sunday, Nov 16                                     Smiths Reef, Maldon
      Course Setter: Rex Niven                                                Organiser:
      Controller:                                                                       Entries/Publicity:

Club History - by Rob Edmonds

Rob has now completed the 8th edition of our Club History and is now looking for photos to supplement this; if you have photographs from years gone by, please forward copies to Rob (or lend them to Rob/Geoff and they'll scan them for use on our website).

Xmas 5 Days to come to Victoria?

The VOA has been asked if we'd like to run the Xmas 5 Day carnival in Victoria. While Victoria has run this event before, this has not happened in recent times - NSW has run the carnival 18 out of the 25 times that it has been run. The usual dates for the event are 27-31 December inclusive, but this has been varied several times to avoid clashes with APOC and to fit in with other events such as World Masters in NZ in 2000. Note that the Oceania Championships are in Christchurch NZ from 3-11 January 2009.

NE PR Machine in High Gear

Emu member Phil Giddings has turned into a 1-man PR machine - and has now succeeded in getting feature articles about the club, orienteering and some of our recent events in many of the local newspapers. This has had a dramatic impact on attendance in the Northern Series - with many people calling Schon to ask for more information and others turning up to take part in events.

Congratulations to Phil for such a Herculean effort !!

Club Maps

Computer Mapping Course - Expression of Interest Please

While we do have a number of people that are well-versed in OCAD, we could always use more - and mapping (or updating) a suburban area is pretty straightforward and very satisfying (especially when people get back from an event and compliment you on the fine map).

We're considering running an OCAD training course for members in the near future - if you're interested in this free course, please let Geoff know via email or by phone on 9888 8121. The course will be run via 1-2 workshop sessions supplemented by the OCAD guides recently created on the website.

Greendale Updated - Robyn Sunderland

Some time ago Rob sent the old Greendale map to Robyn to put onto OCAD; Robyn has now done much of this, but stopped when CHOC asked her to produce the Street O maps for Jackson's Hill , Sunbury and Riddell's Creek - which have now been completed. Robyn has sent the updated map to the committee with a request for them to review it and work out where to from here? She notes that there is, in addition, a very old Blackwood map which extends to the SE and has never been properly field-worked - the gully alongside Mt. Grey track has numerous side gullies etc that should be shown and the area is also very steep.

The thing in favour of this area is its closeness to Melbourne. Against are the steepness of a large portion of the map and minimal tracks for easier courses. The south west corner along the road is largely private property, although there are some areas still unclaimed (ie not fenced )

Rob notes - that Robyn has done a wonderful job on the conversion of the map. The SW corner of this map is now subdivided into large allotments with many built on. David Rowlands did the original fieldwork and drawing some 27 years ago, so he expects that there have been changes to the track network. He also notes that the original gold workings recently got a going over when entrepreneurs were exploiting the tax benefits of old gold mines.

We'll keep you posted on progress here.

Carlton Gardens - Geoff Hudson

Geoff recently completed a detailed colour map of the area surrounding the Exhibition Buildings and the streets between this area and Alexandra Parade. Thanks to Schon and Peter Dalwood for their assistance in field-checking this new map. While we have already held an informal event on this map (see article elsewhere in this newsletter), we envisage that the map will require several more updates to get it up to scratch for more general use.

In the meantime, we've provided copies of the map to Anitra Dowling who plans to run a charity activity on it in the next few weeks.

Winter is Coming - Orienteering in Winter

Summer is almost over…and with it, daylight saving ends for another year. As the time shifts by an hour and the period from 7-8pm gets cooler and darker, park-street orienteering switches to street-orienteering.

Night events have been run for many years – and some of us actually prefer the cooler conditions, the quiet of the night and the move to score courses every week. While it does require a higher degree of care with regard to where you’re going, car headlights and quiet conditions make approaching vehicles easier to see and hear….so it’s not as unsafe as you might at first think.

Wear something bright at night – LED headlamps work well and are very cheap.

To help you keep fit during Winter, we offer the following alternatives: 



For more/latest information…

Wednesday Nights (Eastern Series)

Tuesday Nights (Western Series)

Similar to park-street events – but generally run in streets only

3 Series of 10 x score events - $4 Adults, $2 Juniors. Bring a torch, headlamp and cup.

Free tea/coffee afterwards – BYO cup.





Saturday Afternoon Cake-Orienteering

Park-street events – focussing on parks whenever possible. A one hour event followed by afternoon tea/picnic brought along by participants.

Known as cake-O.  Great for kids and dogs.





Bush Orienteering

Classical navigation in the bush with topographical map and compass. If you’d like to try this, join a club and they’ll help you get started.

Bush events are held on many Saturdays and most Sundays – see the VOA website calendar for details.





Sunday Morning Adventure Series

A series of longer events designed to build navigation skills, perfect for adventure racers, rogainers and others looking to improve their map reading. 

Adventure series events are held both near the metropolitan area and some a little further afield (eg Ballarat). Some combine running and Mountain Bike orienteering.






Mountain Bike Orienteering

Orienteering on a Mountain Bike – with course lengths from 6Km up to 30 Km. You supply – a bike, a drink bottle, a map board.





Club Activities

Most orienteering clubs provide social activities and club/training events for members and friends. Contact your local orienteering club for more information.






Longer distance events – generally well out in the country. Your longer drive is, however, rewarded by 6-8 hour events, fabulous food and great camping.





Informal Training Events

In the Eastern suburbs, we run informal/fun activities on most Monday evenings during Winter. Minimal organisation, fun activities are the key here.


NE Committee News

VOA News

Once again, NE members attended VOA Strategy Day in Macedon; the topics/outcomes covered at this planning day included:

Website News

Our websites (the Emus Website and the Street-Orienteering site) continue to improve - with the following recent additions:

These sites offer a valuable source of information for club-members and other orienteers. If you have ideas about other information that could be useful, please let us know.

Mathematical Puzzles

Fiona sent this in - Don says that it's too easy - and we should do it in our head. I tried and failed - successful completion required pencil and paper.

There are 7 girls in a bus.
Each girl has 7 backpacks.
In each backpack, there are 7 big cats.
For every big cat there are 7 little cats.
Question: How many legs are there in the bus?

Stumped? Visit the emus website for the answer...


Kokoda Track – Papua New Guinea - A Feature Article from Lynette Giddings

Kokoda to Owers’ Corner – 96.4km - 23 Oct to 1 Nov  - ‘Lynette’s Thoughts’…….

Firstly let me say, the Kokoda Track was an awesome experience in the full sense of the word.  It was an adventure as much about its history and the wilderness, as it was a personal journey.  It was tough; bloody tough, rough, steep and at times even treacherous ......…I've never encountered so much mud and sweat.  The Owen Stanley Range held much in store for us!

Each morning I’d be up around 4:30-5:00am, to re-pack my pack. Jeanette, my travelling companion, and I, would drag ourselves into damp and increasingly filthy and smelly clothes and, more often than not, wet socks and boots.  We’d begin the day with a hearty breakfast of porridge and a Malaria tablet, then we’d spread a good slathering of sunscreen on any exposed skin, fill our water bottles and finally, I find my hat.  Where was that hat?  Every 2 or 3 days I'd celebrate with dry socks which would inevitably be wet within a few hours after crossing numerous creeks.

The rest of our group, including my brother Brian, and his mate Michael, would be on the track around 6:30am.  Sometimes a sleep-in would allow a 7am start.  Steve, our head Porter would make the call “Are we ready?”, we’d yell in unison….”Yes” , then he’d yell, “Where’s the road?”, we’d all yell, “NO ROADS” (the name of our expedition company) and we’d be on our way, and keep going with a couple of breaks until about 3pm... long days, ever climbing (calf muscle work-outs) and descending (knee torture).  It was a matter of intense concentration to negotiate the tangled network of tree roots, cross many fast flowing rivers, walk through small creeks and trudge the least muddiest route.  Sometimes you just couldn’t be bothered so just trudged straight through the middle. Our 3 longest days were 9.5 hours. I have to say that my faithful walking stick was an absolutely crucial piece of equipment, it saved me numerous times and got me out of some hairy situations.

The daily temperature varied greatly, depending on where we were.  The first 2 or 3 nights were very cold, the coldest being near Mt. Bellamy (2,190mt, equiv. height to Mt. Kosciusko), then through the low Kunai Grasslands with the sweltering and oppressive heat necessitating us to drink 3-4 ltr. of water a day.

But the Track was achievable, only because of all the training I had put in beforehand: a program at the local gym, riding my bike 14km return 3 days a week to school across hills, regularly walking 5km (our dog gave up and refused to come), a 1.5km weekly swim and of course the obligatory training at the Kokoda Memorial 1,000 steps in Upper Ferntree Gully, in the Dandenong Ranges (twice a week, up and down 3 times).

The variety of exercise was crucial to my training regime, and when I was on the Track, I was so thankful I’d stuck to it!  A bonus was my weight loss of 9.5kg which began when my training started late in July, until finally tapering off by the end November.

Despite the innumerable physical challenges, I never felt any regret or reason why the Track should defeat me - 8 days is a long time to be away in the wilds of that reckless tangle of relentless jungle.  My main concern was the possibility of an injury that would not allow me to complete what I had already decided would otherwise be a ‘fait accompli’.

The weather is rarely on your side in PNG. It's terminally hot, humid and wet, and so it was on the Track. Our leaders said they had never walked a wetter track.  It rained most afternoons or evenings....it poured....this set the scene for slippery and muddy days, particularly in the mornings, until the sun seeped through the blanket of trees overhead to somewhat dry the quagmire around the edges, this was for the duration of our trek.

Surprisingly, despite the hardships, I was deliriously content ... the scenery was stunning, the company was vibrant, and there was always something to marvel at.  At times, I was alone, with just my thoughts and the wonderful vision of my surroundings, mostly though I had the company of at least my Porter, Jombie GEWAR.  He was just 17yrs, yet he was walking the Track for the 21st time.  What a guy!  What a body! So strong…….and such a wonderful smile!  Jombie had run in the 24hr Kokoda Challenge race last year, but sadly had to retire hurt, half way.  Jeanette’s Porter, Gibson, had run 2nd, in 20 hours – a feat I cannot imagine. However did they run through the night and not injure themselves seriously? 

My 17 trekking companions, our leader Dave, and 24 porters made a great team and despite our backgrounds and disparate ages (20-55), everyone found a common core. We all had a variety of reasons for being there.

There were of course many memorable moments.....such as the Alola Village Cock, crowing at 1:35am and every 1/2hr afterwards until sunrise, encouraging its’ feathered neighbours up and down the valley in a competition... Chicken Soup never sounded so tempting!  Numerous incidents of slipping and sliding down muddy tracks at great knots (usually to the cheers of onlookers), and the incident when Michael sliced his knee open to the bone, on one of the many slippery mud covered rocks, - his determination not to be evacuated, but to complete his journey (all healed and in good shape now), was a time of concern for us all. Everything on the Track seemed to cost 5 Kina (equiv. to AUD$2); the cans of Coke & Solo, and the plates of fresh fruit and fried sweet potato, supplied by the villagers – how delighted we were to avail ourselves of these welcome treats. And Tim Snrs.’ Military knowledge and fabulous stories, especially of his time as Publican at Burketown, Qld), which he treated us to most evenings, bringing us to tears of laughter, all after a fabulous gastronomic meal cooked by our wonderful porters.

Fresh ‘bush showers’ in the villages, greetings from the illuminated faces of the little village children, especially when we brought out gifts from deep inside our packs, pencils, sharpeners, rubbers, balloons, liquid bubbles, inflatable balls, even little Japanese fans (I wonder if the children even noticed the painted Geisha’s) and of course everything that comes with being one of only 7 women in the company of 35 blokes on a camping trip!

Much of the credit goes to our Trek Leader, Fireman, David “Yeh, Yeh” Collins (his ‘catch cry’) who made it his mission to enrich our lives with the history and culture of Kokoda.  He imbued us with a sense of team spirit and the lore of the Kokoda spirit: “Mateship; Sacrifice; Courage and Endurance”.

Even if we faltered, as the misery metres were ticking by and the grizzle sticks were out, he kept us motivated.  I wonder how many more kilometres he walked, as he repeatedly passed us up and down the line of trekkers, checking how everyone was managing.  A man of many good stories and such a good sense of humour too. Of course there can never be enough praise for the kindness and humility of our personal Porters. These were local PNG guys who all came from the village of Kagi (they along with all the villagers on the Kokoda Track are Koiari people, whose religion is 7th Day Adventists), regarded our safety as a matter of honour. They lugged our packs and were always there to lend a hand guiding us safely across the mountains and over raging torrents. They would put our tents up and down, and Jombie even cut fern fronds to lay as a carpet at our front door flap, to cover the muddy ground.

So many times, Jombie lent a helping hand when the ground was slippery or river crossings at bit hair-raising, often words were not exchanged, they didn’t need to be, he just knew when to help.  The Porters, some of whom are sons and grandsons of their hallowed forebears, continue to honour the legacy of, those ‘Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels’ who cared for our soldiers in 1942. 

One of the highlights of our trip was meeting one of the last ‘Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels’ at the Village of Nadoori.  He was 102 yrs old.  His 40 y.o. son, told us about his father and some of the many stories of the Kokoda Campaign.  I personally thanked him on behalf of my father, who had served at Milne Bay in PNG during WW2, for the wonderful help they had given to him and all of our Australian soldiers.  I remember my father telling me that we would never have beaten the Japanese without the care and help of the ‘Fuzzy Wuzzies’.

Then there were all those Porters who cheerfully charged ahead of us to set up our campsites, prepare meals, and make sure there was always hot water for a cup of tea or freshly ground plunger coffee, and who faithfully carted everything, food, tents, cooking equipment and other supplies.  Honestly, some of the Porters took ‘death defying’ shortcuts, either straight down or up a cliff face with full pack – they were so sure footed…if I hadn’t seen them do it, I would never have believed it!

The insight into the hardships of the WW2 Kokoda Campaign, about which I learned a lot, has found a place in my soul. It is difficult to believe those untrained soldiers from the 39th Battalion were able to survive for so long with so little ... it is truly a testimony to the human spirit which should be celebrated.  A few tears were shed along the track, especially at the memorial sites, but the most moving moment for me was when our trekking group sang ‘Advance Australia Fair’ and in return, the Porters sang the PNG National Anthem for us at Imita Ridge, the Japanese were forced back and never reached this ridge on ‘the Track’. Our Porters were softly spoken and naturally gifted with beautiful singing voices.

In comparison to ‘those ragged bloody heroes’ we were travelling in 5 star comfort!

And so I arrived, 8 days and 96.4km later at Owers’ Corner, mostly unscathed, (a sore rib after a tumble on a slippery root at the base of the ‘Golden stairs’…… but not one blister), understanding some more Pidgin English (this was my 3rd visit to PNG), stronger in spirit and richer for the knowledge gained about the ordeals our soldiers and the wonderful ‘Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels’ had endured during the battle for the Kokoda Track in WW2, 1942.

It seems very strange being back in the big smoke of Melbourne.  All too often I find myself pining for that jungle and the camaraderie of our trekking group.  I feel great pride in my achievement, not bad for a woman (wife & Mum) who celebrated her 53rd birthday on the Track at Isurava.

On our return, I read that it had been the wettest weather in PNG for 100 years.  Just 12 days later, Cyclone Guba struck, devastating Oro Province, where the Kokoda Track is situated.  More than 160 people died and thousands were made homeless.  The expedition following ours, took 8 days to reach Kagi (our Porters’ village) which is only half way along the track.  They could go no further because the rivers and creeks had become raging torrents and the log bridges had been totally washed away.  They were evacuated by aircraft to Port Moresby.

I guess luck was on our side this time!

    Lynette Giddings, 

Lynette and Brian (brother) at Owers’ Corner after 96.4km

Lynette and trekking party at the beginning of the long climb   heading up to Mt. Bellamy.


Humour - The Hazards of Solar Energy

Many groups and individuals are proposing that our government spend tax money on research and development of systems to utilize solar energy. They urge construction of vast solar energy collectors to convert sunlight to electricity to supply our energy needs. They would even put solar collectors on roofs of homes, factories, schools, and other buildings. Proponents of this technology claim that energy obtained from the sun will be safer and cleaner than coal, oil, or nuclear energy sources.

We view these proposals with alarm. Unscrupulous scientists and greedy promoters are hoodwinking a gullible public. We consider it rash and dangerous to commit our country to the use of solar energy. This solar technology has never been utilized on such a large scale, and we have no assurance of its long-range safety. Not one single study has been done to assess the safety of electricity from solar energy as compared to electricity from other sources.

The promoters of solar energy cleverly lead you to believe that it is perfectly safe. Yet they conveniently neglect to mention that solar energy is generated by nuclear fusion within the sun. This process operates on the very same basic laws of nuclear physics used in nuclear power plants and atomic bombs!

And what is the source of this energy? It is hydrogen, a highly explosive gas (remember the Hindenberg?) Hydrogen is also the active material in H-bombs, that are not only tremendously destructive, but produce dangerous fallout. The glib advocates of solar energy don't even mention these disturbing facts about the true sources of solar energy. What else are they trying to hide from us?

In addition to the known dangers cited above, what about the unknown dangers, that very well might be worse? When pressed, scientists will admit that they do not fully understand the workings of the sun, or even of the atom. They will even grudgingly admit that our knowledge of the basic laws of physics is not yet perfect or complete. Yet these same reckless scientists would have us use this solar technology even before we fully understand how it works.

Admittedly we are already subject to a natural `background' radiation from the sun. We can do little about that, except to stay out of direct sunlight as much as possible. The evidence is already clear that too much exposure to sunlight can cause skin cancer. But solar collectors would concentrate that sunlight (that otherwise would have fallen harmlessly on waste land), convert it to electricity and pipe it into our homes to irradiate us from every light bulb! We would then not even be safe from this cancer-producing energy even in our own homes!

We all know that looking at the sun for even a few seconds can cause blindness. What long term health hazards might result from reading by light derived from solar energy? We now spend large amounts of time looking at the light from television monitors or computer screens, and one can only imagine the possible long-term consequences of this exposure when the screens are powered with electricity from solar collectors. Will we develop cataracts, or slowly go blind? Not one medical study has yet addressed itself to this question, and none are planned.

In their blind zeal to plug us in to solar energy, scientists seem to totally ignore possible fire hazards of solar energy. Sunlight reaching us directly from the sun at naturally safe levels poses little fire threat. But all one has to do is concentrate sunlight, with a simple burning- glass, and it readily ignites combustible materials. Who would feel safe with solar energy concentrators on their roof? Could we afford the fire insurance rates?

These scientists, and the big corporations that employ them, stand to profit greatly from construction of solar-power stations. No wonder they try to hide the dangers of the technology and suppress any open discussion of them.

Proponents of solar energy present facts, figures and graphs to support their claim that energy from the sun will be less expensive, as conventional fuel supplies dwindle and technology of solar energy systems improves. But even if this is so, what will stop the solar energy equipment manufacturers and solar power companies from raising prices when they achieve a monopoly and other fuel sources disappear?

Of course every technology has risks. We might be willing to tolerate some small risk—if solar energy really represented a permanent solution to our energy problems. But that is not the case. At best, solar energy is only a temporary band-aid. Recent calculations indicate that the "Sun Will Go Out in a Billion Years As Its Fuel Runs Out" (Source: newspaper headline) As that calculation was made a year ago, we now have only nine-hundred ninety-nine million, nine-hundred ninety-nine thousand, nine-hundred and ninety-nine years left during which we could use solar energy. Wouldn't it be better to put our human resources and scientific brains to work to find a safer and more permanent solution to our energy needs?

(c) 1978, 1994 by Donald E. Simanek, Lock Haven University, Lock Haven, PA 17745.