Labor Member for Blaxland Jason Clare and Liberal Member for Cook Scott Morrison today launched the 2013 Mateship Trek – Wau to Salamaua at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra.
The Mateship Trek is a bi-partisan initiative established in 2009 to bring together young Australians from different backgrounds to learn about each other, their potential and Australian military history through participating in the Treks.
The Treks are conducted every 2 years and are about:
- raising money for charity;
- raising awareness of our military history;
- building friendships between young people of different backgrounds; and
- building leadership skills.
The first Trek in 2009 was along the Kokoda Track, and in 2011 the group retraced the path of the World War II prisoners of war in Borneo along the Sandakan Death March. In April 2013, Mateship returns to Papua New Guinea to walk the Black Cat Track from Wau to Salamaua, commemorating the 70th Anniversary of the World War II campaigns in this area.
The Trek will conclude with a Dawn Service at the Commonwealth War Cemetery in Lae, where 3,000 Australians who paid the ultimate price during these campaigns, have been laid to rest. Almost 700 were killed in action on or around the Black Cat Track.
In late January 1943, Australian forces successfully defended the Wau airstrip against the Japanese. On Anzac Day the order was given to surge toward Salamaua across what became known as the bloody ranges of northern New Guinea. Salamaua was subsequently taken by the Allies on 11 September 1943.
The Wau to Salamaua campaign was critical to the Australia led New Guinea advance to take back positions still held by the Japanese, following the battles of Kokoda and the beach heads of Buna, Gona and Sanananda in 1942. Our success at Salamaua played a key role in taking Lae, which occurred just seven days later.
“The story of Kokoda is well known. Unfortunately, the heroic efforts of the Australian soldiers on the Black Cat Track a few months later have been largely forgotten. We need to fix this,” Mr Clare said.
“That’s what this Trek is about. Walking in the footsteps of Australian Soldiers, honouring them, learning their stories and making a commitment to live a life worthy of the sacrifices they made for us,” Mr Clare said.
Mr Morrison highlighted the importance of the Mateship Trek in remembering the sacrifices of our troops, both past and present.
“The Mateship Treks enable us to pay tribute to our diggers by ensuring their sacrifices are not forgotten and, more importantly, that their memories are carried on by a new generation who have had the privilege to walk in their footsteps,” Mr Morrison said.
This year the Mateship Trek has partnered with Soldier On an Australian charity that supports wounded soldiers and their families. The group will be raising funds for Soldier On and will also fundraise for aid projects in the villages along the track, where our troops were supported seventy years ago.
The Trekkers for the 2013 Mateship Trek are:
- Steven Tu, 24, from Bankstown
- Amna Karra-Hassan, 24, from Granville
- Lael Kassem, 21, from Guildford
- Mustafa Agha, 22, from Merrylands
- Jarrod O’Brien, 20, from Picton
- Jake Saloway, 17, from Blacktown
- Shae O’Dowd, 18, from Gymea
- Timothy Boland, 21, from Yowie Bay
- Emma Cullen, 23, from Cronulla
- Mitchell Palmer, 21, from Caringbah
- Aiden Mitchell, 23, from Brisbane
- Sandra Gayed, 21, from Kogarah
This year, the Mateship Trek is made possible by the generous support of Trek Partners – Channel 9 & Bankstown Sports Club; and Trek Supporters – Pickles Auctions; Interlink Roads, Bankstown RSL, Linfox, Qantas, Deloitte and Kathmandu.
Several other organisations such as Thales, Northrup Grumman, G4S Australia and many individuals have also made contributions and donated via the Soldier On / Mateship Trek Team fundraising page: http://personalchallenge.gofundraise.com.au/page/Mateship2013
The Governor of New South Wales, Her Excellency Professor Marie Bashir AC, is patron of the Mateship Trek.