LONG WALK: Bundaberg Vietnam Veteran Peter Peddie will set off on the Kokoda Track to finish the journey is father started in the Second World War. Photo: Ben Turnbull / NewsMail
LONG WALK: Bundaberg Vietnam Veteran Peter Peddie will set off on the Kokoda Track to finish the journey is father started in the Second World War. Photo: Ben Turnbull / NewsMail Ben Turnbull

Bundaberg man honours his father in Kokoda Track trek

WHEN Bundaberg's Peter Peddie makes his first nervous step on to the Kokoda Track he will be the second Private form the Australian Armed Forces to get the mud of Papua New Guinea under his boots.

Mr Peddie's father, Victor, served with the 2nd/9th Field Ambulance in the Second World War and after serving in Borneo, Burma and on a secret mission in China, found himself on the Kokoda Track.

After 19 days, Pte Victor Peddie contracted malaria and was sent back to Australia.

Decades later Peter Peddie, who served in Vietnam with 7th Battalion Royal Australian Regiment (7RAR), plans on finishing the torturous journey his father didn't.

But the 96km trek is not about redemption - Mr Peddie wants to get a small taste of what his brave father and his fellow soldiers went through.

"That's a reason I wanted to go, partly because Dad was there and he didn't finish the track," Mr Peddie said.

"Part of my ambition was to carry on where he left off.

"I believed I'd get an understanding of what they went through - but I am going there carrying stuff all, they went there carrying big heaps of weight."

Mr Peddie looks down as he lists the hardships the men on the Kokoda Track - shortage of food, being fired upon, sickness, disease and not knowing where the enemy was - and his voice is full of emotion when his says how brave the men were.

In the face of the tortures of war, the officers and men on the Kokoda Track took on a powerful enemy, but through unquestionable resolve fought back and enhanced the reputation of Australians in battle.

It will be impossible for Mr Peddie to understand exactly what the soldiers went through but he will get a taste of one thing - the unbreakable mateship Australians are admired for.

Mr Peddie will be doing the Kokoda Track with the charity Walking Wounded, alongside him will be Afghanistan veterans and the parents of soldiers killed in Australia's most-recent campaign.

The bond Mr Peddie had with his mates in Vietnam will be remembered as he builds new relationships with some of his country's current soldiers, something he was looking forward to.

Walking the Kokoda Track will be tough for Mr Peddie, and after training for months to be ready he still had one question running around in his head.

"What is it like to wake up in the morning and stick your head out of your tent and you are looking at the memorial? What does that feel like?," he said.

"You are almost there, you are almost finished and you only have that last day.

"It will be something I will find out; I don't know how they (former soldiers) would feel when they themselves finished the Track."

Mr Peddie flies out of Australia on September 2 and starts the track the following day. He will step off the Kokoda Track on September 9.

The track

Distance: 96km

Step off: Owers Corner

Last stop: Kokoda

Highest peak: Mount Bellamy, 2190m



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