Monday, 1 December 2008



Many a mother in Australia when the busy day is done
Sends a prayer to the Almighty for the keeping of her son
Asking that an angel guide him and bring him safely back
Now we see those prayers are answered on the Owen Stanley Track.

For they haven't any halos only holes slashed in their ears
And their faces worked by tattoos with scratch pins in their hair
Bringing back the badly wounded just as steady as a horse
Using leaves to keep the rain off and as gentle as a nurse

Slow and careful in the bad places on the awful mountain track
They look upon their faces would make you think Christ was black
Not a move to hurt the wounded as they treat him like a saint
It's a picture worth recording that an artist's yet to paint

Many a lad will see his mother and husbands see their wives
Just because the fuzzy wuzzy carried them to save their lives
From mortar bombs and machine gun fire or chance surprise attacks
To the safety and the care of doctors at the bottom of the track

May the mothers of Australia when they offer up a prayer
Mention those impromptu angels with their fuzzy wuzzy hair

- Bert Beros

The Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels was the name given by Australian troops to a group of Papua New Guinean people who, during World War II, assisted and escorted injured Australian troops down the KOKODA TRACK/TRAIL (further explanation below). The Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels were named for both their frizzy hair and helpful role.

The Kokoda Memorial at Cascade Gardens has been created to help visitors to Cascade Gardens appreciate the courage and determination of the men who fought on the Kokoda Track in Papua New Guinea during World War Two.

The walk extends from Rotary Park in the centre of Cascade Gardens south along the pathways towards the Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre. Sections of the walk pass through tropical rainforest reminiscent of the fetid jungles in which fierce battles were fought on the KOKODA TRACK/TRAIL.

The KOKODA TRACK/TRAIL is a single-file foot thoroughfare that runs 96 kilometres (60 miles) overland — 60 kilometres (37 miles) in a straight line — through the Owen Stanley Range in Papua New Guinea (PNG). The track is the most famous in PNG and is renowned as the location of the World War II battle between Japanese and Australian forces in 1942.

It is one of the bloodiest campaigns of World War II, which has forever sealed the relationship between Australia and PNG. It was on 21 July 1942, that Japanese troops landed on the northern coast of then New Guinea and unexpectedly began to march over the Owen Stanley Ranges with the intent of capturing Port Moresby.

Had they succeeded, the mainland of Australia would have come under dire threat.

Kokoda was arguably Australia's most significant campaign of the Second World War. More Australians died in the seven months of fighting in Papua, and the Japanese came closer to Australia, than in any other campaign.

Many of those young Australians, whose average age was between 18 and 19, now lie buried at the Bomana War Cemetery outside Port Moresby.

The famous photograph of ‘fuzzy wuzzy angel’ Raphael Oimbari leading a blindfolded wounded Australian (picture above) epitomizes the close relationship between Australians and Papua New Guineans which has come about because of the battle of Kokoda.

To read between the lines of ‘Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels’, the celebrated poem by Australian digger Bert Beros, will drive you to tears.

The poem, which whilst sentimental, touches a chord that has endured to this day in the hearts of both Australians and Papua New Guineans.

It tells of the prayers of worried Australian mothers, whose young sons are fighting the Japanese on that rugged trail, and how their prayers are answered in the form of ‘fuzzy wuzzy angels’.


Anonymous said...

VG, are they bats in the trees? I can't believe you were actually brave enough to go near them. They give me the creeps!!!

Great post on the trail. Very informative.

VG said...

Thanks Grace. Pictures were taken during the day - hence my bravado. I wouldn't have been game if it was dark, that's for sure!