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Honouring our War heroes on the Kokoda Track

A contingent of 30 St Pius X College students, Old Boys, parents, uncles and staff completed the Kokoda Track during the July school holidays.

The group undertook 8 months of preparation and planning to meet the rigours of the demanding terrain, as well as researching the historical significance of the Track to gain a better
understanding of contemporary Papua New Guinea. Accompanied by personal and group porters, two Australian guides and in the capable hands of On Track Expeditions the group hiked the 96km track over 7 days. The trek included a dawn service at the Isurava Battle Memorial site made famous by the heroic defence of the 39th and 2/14th Infantry Battalions led by Lt Col Ralph Honner, and a moving remembrance ceremony at Brigade Hill where SPX Resources Coordinator David Reay recited an emotional ode to the fallen.

The emotional stories along the Track, including those of Kokoda heroes: Stan and Butch Bissett, Lt Col Ralph Honner, Bruce Kingsbury VC, Fr Nobby Earl and Damian Parer gave pause for reflection, along with the 3000 graves and stories of triumph, sacrifice and tragedy in Bomana War Cemetery.

Walking the Track provided challenge, adventure and the opportunity for sombre reflection. At the Isurava Battlefield Memorial the words Mateship, Endurance, Courage and Sacrifice are inscribed on granite pillars and having now walked in the footsteps of Australian soldiers, many the same age as the students, the group has a a new appreciation of what these values mean.

After hiking the Kokoda Track the group visited the Bomana War Cemetery to commemorate the fallen including St Pius X College ex pupil Jacob de Sisto who was buried there after being Killed in Action with the 9th Battalion on Bougainville in December 1944. The tragedy of an Australian Italian family from Roseville losing their only son, at 19 years of age reinforced for the group, the utter futility of war, as few other lessons can.

The last night included a Mass at St Joseph's Church, Boroko. and a shared expedition meal together in Port Moresby, from where the trek over the Owen Stanley Mountains in the footsteps of Australian servicemen, began.

Special thanks goes to the P&F, the Old Boys Association, the Leadership Team, Mr Sean Brannan, Mr Tim Long, Mr David Reay and Mr Paul de Silva and the guides and porters from On Track Expeditions. These experiences do not happen without the support of the College community so a very big thank you to all who supported this very worthwhile St Pius X College tradition.

The College will celebrate the Expedition at a School assembly on Monday 30th July, and send a delegation to commemorate the 75th Anniversary of the 2/33rd Battalion Liberator Air Crash tragedy at Hyde Park ANZAC Memorial on Friday 7th September.