George Palmer 39th Bn, Patrick Lindsay, KTF Chair, Bede Tongs MM, 3rd Bn Garnett Tobin 2/31st Bn, George Palmer 39th Bn & Owen Baskett 3rd Bn
On 3 November last year, four Kokoda Veterans turned the first sod at the site of the new Kokoda College, which will be built by the Kokoda Track Foundation.
Today, some 8 months later, nine shipping containers are being packed by Tereno Constructions, the provider of the building materials, at their distribution centre in Ulladulla in NSW. The containers will be shipped to Oro Bay and then transported over land to Kou Kou village which is a 20 minute walk from the Kokoda plateau.
For the construction of the Kokoda College the Foundation is looking to engage a large group of Australian volunteers. For two months in October and November, our volunteers will work alongside local villagers from Kou Kou and construct the College – literally out of the jungle!
“Just imagine what could happen: the College is there in the containers, plans are laid out, and tools are in their boxes … and no one to build it. The old truism that many hands make light work applies here” said Captain Tongs.
It is planned to have seven teams to work on different parts of the College and to do the majority of construction in the months of October / November, before the rainy season starts. There will be about 40 volunteers in total, with groups of 6 staying in the guesthouses in Kou Kou Village for two weeks at a time.
During WWII there were 12 Battalions on the Track and these volunteer positions offer an opportunity for family and friends to return to where their fathers fought. The Battalions who fought on the Kokoda Track and Beyond were the: 39th, 53rd, 2/14th, 2/16th, 3rd, 2/27th, 2/25th, 2/31st, 2/33rd, 2/1st, 2/2nd and 2/3rd.
Bede inspecting the shipping containers full of building materials for the Kokoda College at Dalmeny NSW
“The Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels were there for us in 1942 and the work of the Foundation means that we are there for their families and descendants now ” said Captain Tongs.
“Access to an education and basic health care must be available to these villagers as near as possible to where they live. The country is rugged and it is not easy to travel long distances to go to school or receive medical attention. The graduates of the College will make a huge difference to communities along the Track and, when the current short-fall is met, to communities in other regions of Papua New Guinea as well” he added.
On 2 July, Bede Tongs visited Dalmeny to see the building materials, tools and other resources for the construction of the College being packed into the containers. Bede, who turned 93 last week, is one of the Ambassadors for the Kokoda Track Foundation and is keen to see the College operating to educate much needed teachers and health workers.
The Kokoda Track Foundation is building the Kokoda College in October and November this year and making a vital contribution to improving the education and health standards of the Oro and Central Provinces in PNG. The College will train urgently needed elementary and primary teachers and community health workers who will operate the schools and aid posts across the region.
For more information regarding the Kokoda College, please visit www.kokodacollege.com.
If you know of someone who was in the Kokoda Campaign but are not sure of their Battalion, a good place to start is the World War 2 Nominal Roll at www.ww2roll.gov.au Some Soldiers moved to different Units after the Kokoda Campaign, so you might have to do some more searching after looking at the Roll.