This time last year, Punchbowl Boys High School, in Sydneys south-west, were taking some heavy hits to an already tarnished reputation. The press went feral over some riotous behaviour at a Books Not Bombs rally in the City. A rally noted more for its pubescant fervour than any positive achievement. In the end the community leaders settled things down.
Well, a year on, good and responsible folk have made real efforts to instill some pride and respect into young Muslims out there. And encouraging results are available. A bunch of Punchbowl High students have just taken on the Kokoda Trail in New Guinea. An Australian sacred site.
One of the students, Mohammed, says they had a point to prove,
We was born here, not one of us was born overseas, we have Australian blood, we are Australian, our background is Lebanese.
I feel both embarrassed and jealous, having not done the Kokoda Trail myself. For I’ve long believed Kokoda has as much significance to our era, as Gallopoli has for our grandparents. Now we’re talking heroes.
Recently I picked up two civil engineers working on a road project over the New Guinean Highlands. They talked of 30 metre deep topsoil, on 40 degree inclines, with treacherous shifts after rain. The Trail from Hell.
Not a problem. The Punchie Boys did the Trail in 6 days flat. They took along a Camp Dare guide, natives related to the WW2 carriers, and a Vietnam Vet who cracked the whip by re-creating the history of the Trail. Without the hardware. Mohammed came out raving,
I didn't know anything about this before, I can now say I know it fully with passion