Aussie Garry Joske walks Kokoda Track to bury the pain of a departed wife
By BENNY SANDEKA
LAST year alone, two Australians lost their lives whilst walking the famous yet treacherous Kokoda Track. Several others died whilst trying to access the track by air and walk into Port Moresby.
Thousands of others make it through each year. Some have walked this arduous track once. Given its rough and rugged terrains, very few of them walk this track twice.
But there is one Australian who stands out from the rest.
Please meet, Garry Joske. From Gold Coast in Australia, Garry has walked this treacherous journey from Kokoda into Port Moresby not once, not twice, but five times! He has climbed the highest peaks of Isurava and Efogi, crawled across fast flowing rivers over trees that were partly washed by rivers, walked the muddy tracks in torrential rain, or simply camped in an open fire in the dark starlit nights while forest insects sang choruses and lullabies as he slept.
(Right-Garry and friends on the Kokoda track)
Whatever the encounters may be, Garry enjoys it all with every step he takes either up the muddy and slippery track or across the fast flowing rivers.
And along the way, he has taken a good collection of pictures of the flora and fauna of Kokoda track, its panoramic views and simply the people and places across the track which once saw the bloodiest conflicts in theatres of war.
He has done it alone with a handful of nationals on two occasions. When word spread through his network in Australia that Garry was coming back for another walk, several people joined him. And from Port Moresby, they flew into Girua airport in Popodetta and via a truck into Kokoda where they begin their excruciating walk across this famous track.
"I have made a collection of all the stick I used when walking along the Kokoda Track. Every time I come and walk the track, I go home with a stick," Garry said once.
These sticks are his self awarded trophies for his bravery along one of the world's most hazardous tracks. He has already five and there is still room for more if this Gold Coast adventurer is keen on taking on the peaks of Isurava and Efogi again.
"I walk because I have been very hurt. Walking this challenging track takes away the pain in my heart," Garry told this writer after his last trip in 2004. Garry was heart broken after his wife for many years divorced him and opted for the man many EMTV viewers in the late 1990s will know only as The Man from the Snowy River. Garry has gone down on bended knees and begged his wife to return but she didn't, forcing Garry to take the challenges of the excruciating Kokoda Track. And when he walks, every step he takes, and every breath he inhales, Garry misses his wife so much. He made no secret when he wept openly after his last trip recalling those merry moments they both shared prior to her departure along the track.
So this was his reason for taking on Kokoda Track a record five times. Has anybody beaten that record yet? Over to your TPA.
Many thanks to Jessie Lapou, formerly Post Courier reporter for filling in the gaps. And congratulations to Garry for becoming a grandfather. Now memories of Kokoda will live on.