Gillian Marks, Former General Counsel of Defence Materiel Organisation, Australia
DMO's former General Counsel, DMO, Gillian Marks, clearly loves a challenge and not just professionally. During her work time, Gillian Marks became a major change agent for Dr Gumley's reforms in DMO and increased the number of female executives at the "SES 2" level to a mighty three within Defence.
In her personal time, she also enjoys challenges and has walked the Kokoda Track twice - the second time with her14 and 16 year old daughters. The first time was a once in a life time opportunity with the commemoration of the Isurava Memorial with the Prime Minister and WWII veterans in attendance. "My father was in New Guinea in WWII so for me it was a very moving experience." Walking the track brings only some understanding of what the diggers went through.
The beautiful wilderness through which the track winds across the 2000 metre Owen Stanley Ranges is unforgiving - even more so in the wet season. "All we had to worry about was carrying our packs and getting from one end of the track to the other. Imagine what it must have been like without proper rations, poor equipment, disease and losing your mates?" says Gillian.
The Kokoda Track and WWII holds a lot of meaning for the indigenous communities living along and near the track. "There were lots of indigenous people attending the memorial commemoration - for them it was a big event too. Their traditional colourful dress, dancing, singing and drums was amazing, even when the drums could be heard all night!" As a result of this experience a number of the walkers including Gillian Marks founded The Kokoda Track Foundation to provide opportunities for the people of the track.
The second time she walked the track, Gillian says was also a wonderful experience walking with her daughters. "The second time the conditions were much worse as it rained constantly and we had to cross a number of swollen rivers by hastily made bridges or with harness - camping in a swamp was pretty interesting too!"
As curious as it may sound it seems the Kokoda Track is Gillian Marks' idea of a holiday as she says she would do it all over again.