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Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Trekking the Kokoda Trail with Prue Mason

My name’s Prue and I wrote Camel Rider which is an adventure story set in the Middle East. It’s about two boys called Adam and Walid who trek through deserts and mountains to save a dog called Tara.

I love adventures and I’m just in the middle of packing for a trek of my own. This one is through the jungles of Papua New Guinea. One of the best things about being a writer is that I can go on adventures and call them research. This one should be an adventure because Papua New Guinea is a country where people still live in their remote mountain villages without running water or electricity like their parents and grandparents and great, great etc. parents did before them.

The reason I’m going is because my two brothers talked me into it. Our Dad was a soldier in the Second World War and he fought alongside the Americans in the jungles of Papua New Guinea. They had a really tough time because this is how a soldier who was there described it – “Imagine an area approximately 100 miles long – crumple and fold this into a series of ridges each rising higher and higher until 7,000 feet is reached and then dropping to 3,000 feet – cover this thickly with jungle, short trees and tall ones tangled with vines… About midday and through the night pour water over all this so everything becomes slippery and muddy.” Sounds great doesn’t it? Well if you like trekking through mud and being eaten by mosquitos and attacked by leeches it could be fun.

My Dad and lots of other soldiers traveled along a track through this area called the Kokoda Trail. Not only did they have to try and make their way up and down these slippery, muddy ridges and through fast flowing rivers but they were also being shot at by their enemy. I remember my Dad showing me and my sisters and brothers a scar on his back that he told us was when an enemy soldier dropped out of a tree and had his knife almost into Dad’s back when luckily for Dad, but unluckily for the enemy soldier, there was a friend behind Dad who saved him. Dad said he learnt a lot about himself and life during the time he was a soldier. He said one time when he was fighting he got so close to an enemy he looked into his eyes. He saw the man was really frightened. From that time on Dad said he knew that there’s no such thing as an enemy – just people who don’t know each other but who have got themselves into a situation which is about life or death and they’re just doing what they can to survive.

When I’m struggling up and down those folded ridges I’m going to try and remember that at least I’m not being shot at.

But I’d better get on with my packing. When I get back from this trip I’ll be back to work. One of the interesting things about being a writer is the variety of work you can do. My next job is reading nearly 15,000 poems from children all around Australia because I’m one of the judges of a national poetry competition. Someone asked me what I’ll be doing with all those poems after I’ve read them. I figure I might plant them in our garden. Maybe I’ll grow a Poetree.

Hope you enjoy Adam and Walid’s adventures. I wrote this story when I was living in the Middle East and although Adam and Walid aren’t real people, Tara is a real dog. She’s here alongside me now and is waving a paw. She likes being the heroine of the story and has visited lots of schools here in the Australia when we go and talk about Camel Rider and what it was like living in the Middle East.

Posted by author Prue Mason.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

U listen to his screams at night. I tell him whatn help there is for him. If its home help he says they'll be wogs. If its a nurse he says It'll be a poofta

Anonymous said...

Why is there nothing available to the lives destroyed by this war

Kokoda Track said...

The Kokoda Trail or Track is a single-file foot thoroughfare that runs 96 kilometres overland — 60 kilometres in a straight line — through the Owen Stanley Range in Papua New Guinea. The track is the most famous in Papua New Guinea and is known for being the location of the World War II battle between Japanese and Australian forces in 1942.Kokoda Trail