Kokoda trek will honour grandad

CALLUM Oldfield of Castle Hill said walking the 90-kilometre Kokoda Track next year would allow him to honour the memory of his grandfather, Ron Oldfield, who served in the Korean War.
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Callum is training for the challenging jungle hike with his father, Robert, who completed the trek last year.

“I’ve had a relative in every war — dad was in the army five years — and I actually want to join the air force,” Callum, a Castle Hill High School prefect, said.

The year 11 student will complete the trek in the inaugural Castle Hill leadership program with classmate Chandla Serret of Glenhaven, also a prefect, and other pairs of students from schools in the Castle Hill electorate.

Before the trek they will meet Australian leaders including Westpac chief executive Gail Kelly, NSW Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione, NSW Supreme Court Chief Justice Tom Bathurst and former prime minister John Howard.

“I’m interested in the program because it’s about challenge, leadership and resilience,” Castle Hill High principal Vicki Brewer said.

Program founder Castle Hill MP Dominic Perrottet completed the Kokoda trek in 2002. He said what struck him was the rows of graves at Bomana War Cemetery, at the southern end of the Kokoda Track, “and of all those 18-year-old men who died for the freedom we have today”.

He hoped the program gives students a “positive alternative to schoolies . . . [to live] out the values which embody the Kokoda spirit — courage, endurance, mateship and sacrifice”.

■ Tickets to the Castle Hill Leadership Program fund-raiser dinner on Friday, November 22, at Castle Hill RSL are $100. NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell will attend, along with all the school leaders chosen for the program. Program patron, former chief of the Australian Defence Force, General Peter Cosgrove, will give the keynote address.

■Details: 9634 7474.

Then Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, visited the Bomana War Cemetery near Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, in May. Picture: Andrew Meares

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