I went to Kokoda not knowing what to expect. The one thing I was told was that it was going to be hard but I didn’t realise the sheer scope of the challenge I was about to undertake. It was not until completing the Trek that I realised the extent of what I had achieved. I was pushed further than I thought possible and in such a short period of time learnt a number of lessons that will stick with me for the rest of my life. I would like to give my gratitude to John Nalder, Adventure Kokoda and everyone from the RSL and Services Clubs, especially the Griffith Ex-serviceman’s Club, for giving me an opportunity to do something I couldn’t have done without their support.
The thing that has remained with me since the trek was the generosity of the Koiari people, the carriers and the local people along the Track. I was fortunate to meet a number of locals on the Track whose generosity and compassion changed my view on the world. People with nothing to give but a wave and or a smile still offered their help and aid to anyone who needed it. When I was struggling up a hill or on a slippery log across a river I could always rely on a guiding hand or a word of encouragement to help me to the next campsite. This generosity has had a major impact on me and I have done my best to transpose this into my everyday life. It has really changed the way I perceive the world.
One carrier in particular, a boy named Dixi, was around the same age as me and became a good friend by the end of the trek. Though he was deaf and dumb we spent most nights laughing together as we attempted to talk with our hands. His courage and free nature has inspired me. He showed me that even with his disabilities and limited opportunities he could still live a happier and fuller life than most people I know.
The experience and professionalism of John Nalder and the Adventure Kokoda team made the trek enjoyable and informative. Our experienced leaders were able to take us off the ‘official’ wartime track and showed a number of newly discovered track’s that really capped off an excellent eight days of trekking.
The most memorable part of the trek for me was Isurava Memorial. The words Courage, Endurance, Mateship and Sacrifice engraved on the four plinths of the memorial are engrained in my memory and define the spirit of the Australian soldiers who fought on Kokoda. Hearing about the brave acts of soldiers who fought and died on the very spot you were standing was special, moving and something I will never forget.
Sharing the experience with a group of such great individuals really made the experience. The support I received from everyone in the group formed a special bond that I will look back on fondly. Though we were all from different homes and backgrounds the group really together to help and encourage everyone to complete the trek. If it wasn’t for the other trekkers the challenge would not have been as rewarding.