Opening of the Kokoda Track Memorial Walk, Kokoda Barracks, Canungra QLD
I respectfully acknowledge the people of the Yugambeh language region, the traditional owners of the land on which we meet, and pay my respect to their elders past and present, and all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples here today.
What a delight it has been for Linda and me to be at Canungra today and to participate in events marking the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Kokoda.
It has been an important opportunity to pause, remember and honour the efforts of Australian soldiers in New Guinea in World War 2.
The Kokoda Track Memorial Walk adds to the continued link of facilities within Kokoda Barracks being named after significant events or people from the campaign.
The Memorial Walk will be a prominent reminder of the deeds and service of our forebears, of the example they set and the legacy they passed on.
What a wonderful moment it will be shortly when we accompany Kokoda veteran Mr George Turner on the first official walk.
In my Anzac Day address this year I spoke of how, on that day particularly, Australians are drawn to war memorials and monuments. On most other days of the year, many Australians may simply walk by them and not think any more about them.
We shouldn’t. We should reflect and remember on what our memorials and monuments signify. The myriad stories they memorialise and the significance of service on those individuals, their families and our community.
This walkway will be a place to reflect on the losses that were experienced in the Kokoda campaign and to better comprehend the heroic deeds, the sacrifice and the importance of the ultimate victory.
It will also serve as a bridge to understanding and appreciating the service of our modern veterans and men and women in uniform.
As I alluded to during my speech this morning at the 80th anniversary commemoration of the Battle of Kokoda, today’s service men and women carry forward the Anzac legacy – reflecting it and building upon it through their own service in the same way that their forebears at Kokoda did.
All Australians are proud of those who serve our nation.
This audience knows that the sacrifices of our service men and women are also the sacrifices of their families.
In remembering and honouring those that served in the Kokoda campaign we also acknowledge the impact of their service on families, friends and others left behind.
The Memorial Walk we’re opening today will be a place of reflection, learning and remembrance in honour of those who fought for Australia during World War 2.
In closing, I want to acknowledge the outstanding work of all involved in the Kokoda Track Memorial Walk – particularly Mr George Friend OAM who instigated the project and Colonel Ross Bastiaan AM (Retd) who designed and forged the story plaques on the plinths.
It is thanks to your collective passion and determination to preserve the memory of those who fought in the battles along the Kokoda Track that future generations will be able to learn about their sacrifices for our nation.
The Kokoda Track Memorial Walk is the very embodiment of ‘Lest we forget’.
It is with great pleasure that I now declare the Kokoda Track Memorial Walk officially open.