2012 Kokoda Challenge
I heard from Bernie again this morning and all is well.
As at 11.30am SA time, 14 of the K12s are on a plane on their way back to Port Moresby, and 12 are bouncing their way to Kokoda in a truck. For those doing the math – Brenton has decided that back-to-back was a silly idea after all, so he has opted to head back to PoM with Anne and the rest rather than joining the Retreat trekkers for the walk back to Ower’s Corner.
As mentioned in the last update, the Retreat trekkers will arrive in Kokoda then start walking to Hoi in the early afternoon. This will be a gentle* but beautiful start to their walk.
(*gentle in actual, normal person terms, none of this crazy “oh it’s just gently undulating” walking language)
I heard from Bernie last night and this morning, and from Pauline in PoM last night. Everyone is well and it seems things are finally going to plan!
Yesterday, the bulk of the group finally got to Buna. This involved 4 hours of the most bumpy, squashed ride ever. They took a break in Popondetta en route, and a soccer game provided some welcome relief from the cramped truck ride. During the course of their 4 hour adventure, I understand they ran out of petrol twice; again, standard PNG fare.
Upon arrival in Buna, they were welcomed by locals dressed in full traditional regalia. Some of the trekkers then opted for a longboat ride to Sanananda (which probably would have been slightly more relaxing without the 1.5m waves). It was an adventurous day; lots of waiting around and bumpy truck rides probably doesn’t constitute the greatest way for the Retreat trekkers to start, but I’m sure they’ll get into the zone later today when they start walking on the Track.
By 7pm last night, they were all dry and having tea in a nice hut overlooking the ocean. At that point they were not optimistic that the truck would get back from Popondetta in time (3am) for them to meet the plane, but they did end up getting to Popondetta as planned this morning and, in any event, the plane time was changed so that Pauline and Brian S didn’t fly out of PoM til 8.30am, meaning the K12s who are not doing the Retreat will likely fly out from Popondetta to PoM around 9.30 this morning. Those trekkers will spend tonight at the Gateway in Port Moresby before flying home tomorrow.
Meanwhile, the Retreat trekkers will walk from Kokoda to Hoi today. From memory, this will only take them 1 – 2 hours, and they’ll likely get in to the lovely village of Hoi after lunch.
I just had a call from Pauline, who is relaxing with a coffee at the Gateway Motel in Port Moresby. This morning, Chris Adey flew out, Pauline went to the airport to collect Peter’s bag, which didn’t arrive with him on Tuesday, and Lyall met up with some local friends before heading home.
As for the K12s heading to the Beaches: one of the guides Pauline spoke to in PoM said he thinks they’re still stuck in Kokoda, but Pauline’s friend Cecily, in Kokoda, thinks they’ve left Kokoda – so who knows?! Hopefully, they’re at or en route to the Beaches. At this stage they’ll probably only visit Buna, as they then need to be back at Popondetta by about 7am tomorrow to get their flight back to PoM.
This afternoon, Brian Schumacher will arrive in Port Moresby, and he and Pauline will spend the afternoon touring around PoM with a guide. They (and Peter’s bag) will then fly to Popondetta tomorrow morning to meet the rest of the group and distribute additional Leukoplast tape, fungal cream and video camera memory cards (which Brian kindly packed last night) to the back-to-back trekkers and – perhaps as importantly – supplies of cheese, Vegemite and mayonnaise to Cecily (essential items the villagers cannot buy in Kokoda!).
Pauline reports that it was hot and sunny in Kokoda yesterday – hopefully that means the Retreat trek will be a bit less wet than the Tribute trek. The Tribute trekkers’ spirits were given a real boost by the arrival of Alice, Ben, Zorana, Paul and Peter yesterday, with their bountiful energy and enthusiasm. Ben was taking lots of photos and Alice took over drug duties (making sure everyone was taking their anti-malaria medication etc.), in between general excited bouncing around the campsite.
We may not hear from the group tonight due to a lack of battery and reception, but whether they’re at Buna or Kokoda I understand that they’re enjoying the break before flying home or commencing the walk back over the Track to Ower’s Corner.
The K12s made the best of yesterday’s delay, spending a funny, relaxing night in resort Kokoda. They enjoyed some birthday celebrations for Zorana and Brenton. This may be related in some way to the request for further supplies (of scotch whiskey) that came through yesterday…
They were hoping to truck it to Popondetta at 4am today – no word yet as to whether or not that has happened. They are particularly keen to hear whether any more donations have come through since they’ve been in PNG.
If you’d like to sponsor the team or contribute to the fundraising efforts of a particular trekker, you can visit these pages by clicking on the trekkers name below.
The trucks from Popondetta didn’t arrive, so the trekkers are spending another night in Kokoda. If all goes to plan,* they will depart for Buna at 4am.On the plus side, this likely gives the back-to-back trekkers a slightly higher chance of getting their soaking wet clothes and boots slightly more dry…Claire
(*i.e. the plan that is their new plan after their original plan and back-up plan fell victim to standard PNG chaos!)
Pauline, Alice, Zorana, Paul, Ben and Peter flew from Port Moresby to Kokoda mid-morning today. All but Pauline have now gone to join the Tribute trekkers to head to the Northern Beaches, except Chris Adey and Lyall who have flown back to Port Moresby with Pauline. Those three are not going to the Beaches – Chris and Lyall will, I believe, return home in the next few days (please note this is not due to injury or illness; this was the plan all along), while Pauline hopes to visit some people and places in and around Port Moresby before joining the rest of the Retreat trekkers at Kokoda on Friday, along with Brian Schumacher who leaves Adelaide tomorrow.
Confused? Yeah me too!
As you’d now know, the Tribute trekkers finished their walk at Kokoda yesterday. They then camped at Kokoda last night. Most of the Retreat trekkers arrived in Port Moresby yesterday and stayed at the Gateway Motel last night.
Today, the plan is for the Retreat trekkers to fly to Kokoda, and for the whole group (minus a few who have opted not to do the beaches and to head straight back to Port Moresby) to then get to Popondetta by truck, and then head to the Northern Beaches.
As of 9.30am this morning, the scenario is textbook PNG: the plane from Port Moresby has been delayed because of low cloud over Mount Bellamy, and the trucks coming from Popondetta have been delayed by breakdown. But all being well, the K12s will be in Buna tonight.
After breaking her leg last year Corina has decided to finish what she started.
And yes she did it!
If you wish to support Corina’s you can visit her sponsorship website at: http://www.everydayhero.com.au/corina_poole
I heard from Bernie at 4pm today. The Tribute trekkers are all well in Kokoda.
They’re huddled under a canvas in heavy rain while the porters try to put up tents in a soggy field – the fun keep coming!
They are no doubt tired but ecstatic to have completed the trek, and will soon meet up with most of the Retreat trekkers. Most of that group will then head to the Northern Beaches.
Some of the Retreat trekkers departed Adelaide bright and early this morning to join their fellow K12s (in their muddy, wet, stinky glory) at Kokoda or Popondetta (depending on where the plane can land in the wet conditions).
Pauline, Alice, Zorana, Ben, Paul and Peter were farewelled by a small, bleary-eyed crew, and arrived in Brisbane mid-morning. They had a 3 hour wait for their next flight and will arrive in PNG later today. Brian Schumacher heads off on Thursday, and the rest of the Retreat trekkers are already in PNG as they are doing the Tribute + Retreat option (Bernie, Brenton, Sam, Catherine, Lindsay and Julie) – I wonder what they’re thinking about that decision now!
Most of the K12s who are coming home after the Northern Beaches will arrive in Adelaide on Saturday evening (15th September), and most of the rest of the group will return on Sunday 23rd September…so we’ve still got a while to go; I do hope you stay tuned and keep those messages from home coming – especially for those who are not even quite halfway through their adventure yet!
If you wish to support the Centacare Kokoda Challenge team’s fundraising efforts you can visit the sponsorship website at http://www.everydayhero.com.au/bernie_victory or by downloading the donation form here.