It was billed as the caddish behaviour of a sexually charged footballer, but has quickly emerged as a modern love story.
Geelong star Josh Hunt has ditched Ellie Pearson, his girlfriend of five years, for a Queensland girl that he met on a Kokoda Track adventure tour. In an email to work colleagues, Pearson said that the footballer had dumped her for his new love interest just days after the ex-lovers had enjoyed a romantic getaway in Hawaii. The email promptly went viral after friends forwarded it on with relish – and the break-up was officially made public in a Herald Sun article.
It is just one of many bogan love stories believed to have emerged on Papua New Guinea’s historic trail in recent years.
The treacherous 96 kilometre track was the setting for the epic World War II battle between Japanese and Australian forces in 1942. In recent years it has become somewhat of a bogan magnet for Australians seeking to “get in touch with their roots”, not to mention a popular location for emotionally overwhelmed men to propose engagement to their girlfriends.
The Kokoda Track is a popular pre-season challenge for footballers, with many modern coaches and team leaders using the hike as a team building exercise. During the football offseason, AFL players are said to account for some 80% of Kokoda tourists. Shockingly, some athletes are even known to have returned to Australia with a heightened sense of history following the adventure.
Hunt is believed to have been particularly moved by the occasion. Fresh off a frivolous holiday with his girlfriend of five years, the Geelong star relished the chance to learn about the nation’s war history and the battle that, according to many, “saved Australia.”
While the ‘Kokoda Adventure Experience’ company provided Hunt and his fellow trekkers with boots, ample food, shelter, blankets, first aid kits and a handful of skilled guides to carry their luggage for them, the hike was still no walk in the park. Hunt and the unknown woman forged a bond in the oppressive conditions as they cuddled next to the campfire, listening to Jimmy Barnes and John Farnham on Hunt’s iPod. And, with the ghosts of Australian war heroes watching over them in approval, thus began a bogan love story.
Meanwhile, the scandal been seized upon by AFL CEO Andrew Demetriou as a “wonderful human interest story.” Demetriou told The Public Apology that it made for a refreshing change from the usual sordid AFL headlines, in the sense that no woman was sexually assaulted, bashed or raped.
“I’m so glad that Josh has been able to find love – and on the Kokoda, of all places, how wonderful!” a playful Demetriou said.
“I’m usually watering down all sorts of gang rape allegations around November and December, so it’s a nice change to be able to talk about the blossoming love life of one of the AFL’s brightest stars.”
“This continues the AFL’s strong association with Kokoda and the ANZAC spirit. Forget that he’s cheated on his missus, this is a fucking good yarn!”
The Public Apology understands that the ABC will feature an episode of Australian Story on the Kokoda romance to coincide with the start of the AFL season.
By Dave Edwards